How to switch from a laptop camera to a webcam

Laptop cameras usually don't have a high resolution, which is why many laptop users buy a webcam as a replacement. However, before you can use the new hardware, you need to replace your laptop's camera with a webcam.

This switching process is quite simple. In this article, we'll walk you through the steps needed to switch from your laptop camera to a webcam on Windows and Mac PCs.

How to Switch from Laptop Camera to Webcam on Windows PC

An external camera is ideal for PC users who want to take advantage of features such as automated panning and tracking, recording video, or participating in video chats. Most webcams also offer better video resolution than a standard laptop camera.

But to use it for video chatting and video recording, you need to disable your laptop's built-in webcam first. Next, you will need to configure the external webcam as the primary webcam to allow it to work with other Windows programs.

Here you will find the steps to switch from a laptop camera to a webcam on different versions of Windows.

Windows 11

If you see your webcam in the "Devices and Printers" category when you connect it to your PC, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows key + R.
  2. To access the Control Panel.
  3. Enter "control" in the Run dialog box and press "Enter."
  4. Set the "View by" option to "Large icons" or "Small icons" in the upper right corner of the window.
  5. Choose "Devices and Printers".
  6. Find your secondary/external webcam and right click on it.
  7. To set the default webcam, click "Set as default device".

However, if your webcam does not appear in the "Devices and Printers" section when connected, try disabling your laptop's camera by doing the following:

  1. Use the shortcut Windows key + R key to open the Run dialog box.
  2. Go to "Device Manager" by entering "devmgmt.msc" in the Run dialog box and press "Enter".
  3. In "Device Manager", scroll down the list of installed devices in the "Camera" section and select it.
  4. Choose "Disable Device" by right-clicking on the internal webcam.
  5. Do this for each additional camera you have placed on your system.

Now that your laptop's camera is disabled, your laptop will automatically access your webcam when needed.

Windows 10

In Windows 10, you can also switch between the laptop camera and a webcam in different ways.

To disable the laptop camera, follow these steps:

  1. Simultaneously press the Windows + X shortcut and choose "Device Manager" from the list.
  2. Double-click on the drop-down menu labeled "Imaging Devices."
  3. Select "Disable" next to the name of the internal webcam.
  4. Try using a program and see if the problem persists.

Another way is to set the webcam as the default device. Here's how:

  1. Press Windows + S and type "Control Panel".
  2. Choose the first item and click "View devices and printers" under "Hardware and sound".
  3. Confirm that the webcam is there.
  4. If so, right click on the webcam and choose “Set this device as default”.

How to Switch from Laptop Camera to Webcam on Mac

The iSight camera that comes pre-installed on Mac computers cannot be replaced with an external webcam, but there is an easy fix. It is possible to record or chat via an external webcam. Here's how:

  1. Connect the camera to the computer via a USB cable. Or, if you have a Bluetooth webcam, connect it via Bluetooth with your Mac.
  2. Wait for the computer to recognize the external webcam. Discovery may take 10-15 seconds.
  3. Select the “Photo Booth” software from the applications dock at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Access the camera by selecting "Camera" from the menu bar at the top of the page.
  5. Select the external webcam from the list of options available in the drop-down list.

The laptop will switch to the external webcam from the standard iSight webcam. For consistency, these adjustments will be applied to all other installed Mac apps.

Additional FAQs

Why can't I switch from my laptop camera to my webcam?

If you've followed all the steps and still can't access your webcam, there are several things you can do to fix this problem. Try connecting the camera to another computer. If you're having issues on many PCs, the problem is most likely with the webcam.

Look better on video calls with your laptop

Switching from a laptop camera to a webcam is quick and easy on Mac and Windows devices.

Likewise, if you are using external video chat platforms, you can adjust the app's default camera by accessing the app's options from the menu bar. The processes should be pretty similar to what we've covered in this article, whether you're using WhatsApp, WebEx, or one of the countless other video calling apps and services available.

Are you using your laptop's camera or a webcam? Do you think laptop cameras are enough or do you prefer webcams? Let us know in the comment section below!

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