What Do You Do if Your Webcam Says It Is Being Used for Another Device?

Webcams can be internal or external.
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Your computer's webcam can only be accessed by one program at a time. If you're video chatting on Skype, for example, you won't be able to simultaneously record video through Open Broadcaster. To use your webcam in the application you want, you first need to close off access from the application that's currently using it. Since it's not always obvious where the conflict is occurring, this process may involve a bit of trail and error.

1 Close All Open Apps

If you're experiencing a software conflict with your webcam, it's possible the device is being used by an application without your knowledge. Close all open applications on your computer, including those that are running in the background. One common culprit of webcam troubles is the software that comes with the webcam -- if this software is running, the webcam might not work in other apps. Once all programs are closed, try accessing your webcam via one application at a time.

2 Restart Your Computer

Restarting your computer is one of the most basic and efficient methods for clearing out conflicts and removing possible error causes. When your computer reloads the operating system, it will only be using the core system applications and whatever you've instructed it to run on startup. If you experience the same issue after restart, it is possible the cause is an application running at startup. Check through your running applications to find anything that might be using the webcam.

3 Disconnect the Device

Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to particular bugs or glitches on a computer. As applications open and close, pieces of functionality get suspended in memory or forget to turn themselves off. If you have an external webcam, disconnecting it from your computer removes it from the system completely, forcing any programs accessing it to stop and letting you start from scratch. Reconnect the webcam after a few seconds to see if a quick disconnect was all you needed. If you have an internal webcam, disable the device through Windows Device Manager by right-clicking it and selecting "Disable," and then right-clicking again and selecting "Enable." This has the same effect as disconnecting and reconnecting an external webcam.

4 Update Your Drivers

One of the most common causes of hardware and peripheral problems is outdated drivers. Drivers are small pieces of software that tell your operating system how to interact with the various computer components. Visit the official website of your webcam's manufacturer and download the most recent drivers for your particular model of webcam. Updating drivers sometimes resolves otherwise unexplainable hardware issues. Even internal webcams require device drivers; consult your product documentation to learn the manufacturer of the webcam so that you can find its drivers.