What Is the Difference Between a Laptop Webcam and a Universal Webcam?

Webcams enable you to communicate via video.
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Every peripheral attached to your computer, whether internal or external, uses drivers. Drivers are what tell the computer's operating system how to interact with the peripheral. If the drivers for the device are out of date or missing, you will not be able to use the device. In the case of webcams, universal webcam drivers are drivers that work with any webcam regardless of make or model.

1 Internal Webcams

Internal webcams are webcams that are built directly into the body of the computer. Many laptops, for example, have a built-in webcam just above the screen. This webcam works in the same way as an external webcam, but may have fewer features. Internal webcams are also found on some monitors and all-in-one PC units. Computers with internal webcams normally have the webcam drivers pre-installed.

2 Universal Webcam Drivers

In order for any webcam to function correctly, it needs the right drivers. While internal webcams should come with drivers already installed, it's possible you might need to find some on your own. Universal webcam drivers are an option if you're unable to find specific drivers for your exact make of webcam. Universal drivers function with almost all webcams, though you may not have the same range of control the original drivers might have provided.

3 Finding Your Webcam Information

If you use a Windows computer, you can find exact information regarding your webcam in the device manager. Swipe the mouse into the lower right-hand corner of the screen and click “Control Panel.” Click “Hardware and Sound” and select “Device Manager.” Your webcam will be under “Imaging Devices.” If you're using OS X, you can open the system profiler application found in the “Utilities” folder to explore peripherals attached to your Mac computer.

4 Downloading Drivers

The first course of action in finding drivers should be checking the manufacturer's download Web page. If your webcam was manufactured by Logitech, for example, stop by the Logitech downloads page to see if the webcam has drivers available. If you can't find the manufacturer's website or no downloads are present – common for users with internal webcams – consider using a universal webcam driver instead (see Resources).