How to Use a Webcam With Yahoo Messenger

by Jeff Grundy
Yahoo Messenger is a free way to place video calls to almost any country in the world.

Yahoo Messenger is a free way to place video calls to almost any country in the world.

The Internet changed the way people all over the world communicate with each other. Email enables millions of users to replace written letters with easy-to-send communications delivered in a matter of seconds, and video-chat services allow instant face-to-face calling without expensive telephone charges. Yahoo Messenger allows millions of registered users to place video calls to colleagues, friends and loved ones using a standard USB webcam and Internet connection. As long as you have a USB webcam compatible with DirectX 9.0 -- found in Windows XP and newer operating systems -- you can configure the camera for use with Yahoo Messenger.

Connect the mini-plug end of the USB data cable to the webcam, if it's external, and then plug the other end into an empty USB port on your computer. Wait a few seconds for Windows to detect and initialize the camera. Windows 7 does not require a software driver for most modern webcams, but may require one for older ones and some Logitech models. If Windows prompts you for a manufacturer driver, insert the installation CD for the webcam and follow the prompts. Alternatively, download and install the latest driver for the webcam from the manufacturer's website.

Ensure your Internet connection is active, and then launch Yahoo Messenger on your computer. Log in to the chat program with your Yahoo username and password when prompted.

Click "Messenger" on the menu bar, then select "Preferences." In the Yahoo Messenger Preferences window, click the "Video & Voice" link in the Category pane.

Click the "Camera" drop-down list and select "System Default - USB Video Device" or the device name of your webcam if listed.

Click the "Microphone" drop-down list and select "Microphone USB Camera" or another similarly named device option. Alternatively, choose the microphone associated with the device name of your camera if listed. Click the "Apply" button after selecting the appropriate webcam and microphone devices.

Click the "Open Video and Voice Setup" link under the Test Devices header in the Video & Voice window to open the Video and Voice Setup window.

Position the webcam so that it is facing you, and then read aloud the message on the screen that reads, "I can see the colored dots light up as I speak into my microphone." This helps the application calibrate your microphone for use when chatting. After the Setup window displays the "You've successfully configured your microphone" message, click the "Next" button.

Listen to the music that plays over your computer speakers and use the slide control in the "Step 2" window to adjust the volume. After adjusting the volume to a comfortable level, click the "Next" button.

Verify that the webcam device you selected in the Preferences window appears in the drop-down list under the "Choose the Camera You Want to Use" label. A small preview screen should display the stream from the webcam. Therefore, you should be able to see your face in the preview window. If you cannot see yourself in the preview window, click the "Retry" button and wait for the preview window to refresh.

Click the "Finish" button after completing the setup of your webcam and microphone.

Click the "Apply" button in the Video & Voice window, then the "OK" button.

Click "Messenger" on the menu bar, then "My Webcam." If a warning box appears, click the "OK" button. A new window appears display the live stream from your webcam. If you can see yourself in the window, you configured the camera correctly.

Double-click the name of a contact in your Yahoo Messenger friends' list. Click the "Video Call" button to initiate a video-chat session with the other person. Once the other person accepts the video call, he will be able to see your webcam stream on his computer monitor.

Items you will need

  • USB webcam
  • USB data cable

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

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