The WebcamMax program offers a sizable library of effects you can use to have fun on your webcam, from simple overlaid images and picture-in-picture functionality to more complicated distortion effects. The software intercepts your webcam's video feed, applies the effects you choose and then generates a new video feed which you can use in most video chat programs, including Skype -- as long as you set everything up correctly.

Setting Up WebcamMax

This will likely seem obvious to you, but it might not be as obvious to a friend or family member you're trying to help troubleshoot: For WebcamMax to work with Skype, both programs need to be running simultaneously. Which one you launch first doesn't matter. Do keep in mind, however, that WebcamMax immediately starts intercepting your webcam's video feed when you launch it, so if you're already chatting with somebody on Skype, your video will drop. Starting WebcamMax first will give you the time to set up any effects you want to have already running when your video chat starts, such as background replacements.

Setting Up Skype

The drivers that were added to your computer during the WebcamMax installation process ensure the software shows up as a webcam in your Skype settings. To set WebcamMax as the default video source for all your Skype calls, click "Tools," select "Options," click the "Video Settings" tab, select "WebcamMax Capture Fast" using the "Webcam" drop-down menu, and then click "OK." Alternatively, click the "Call Quality Information" button that appears when you select a contact, select the "Webcam" tab and switch to the WebcamMax feed using the drop-down menu.

Limitations

Even if you set WebcamMax as the default webcam in Skype, the program won't automatically start when you launch Skype. You will always have to start it manually, and you won't be able to make video calls until you do unless you switch the Skype webcam settings back to the normal webcam. As long as WebcamMax is running, you'll be unable to access your normal webcam video feed in Skype. If you've purchased WebcamMax, this won't be an issue, since a WebcamMax video feed with no effects applied is indistinguishable from a normal webcam video feed. If you have the free version, however, the watermark across the top of your screen will make it immediately obvious that you are using it.

Considerations

Using WebcamMax on Skype may not always be appropriate. If you're just having fun with your friends, the software is harmless. You may also occasionally use Skype to chat with distant family or with people you have a more professional relationship with, though. If that is the case, you should avoid setting it as your default webcam in Skype and only switch it on when you need it, to avoid any awkwardness.