Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

This sounds like a driver problem. Pre-installed Windows comes with drivers for all the equipment on your machine; an upgrade often may not.

Hello Leo, I have a Toshiba Satellite laptop with a built-in Chiconi USB 2.0 camera. I upgraded my system to Windows 7 Ultimate and for some reason, I cannot turn on the camera. Before Win 7, all I had to do was to move the cursor to the edge of the screen and the camera would turn on... I checked in the hardware section and it tells me that the camera is working properly. I feel a bit stupid by now ... could it be that I need to update the driver – even when the system tells me that the camera works properly? I have no idea how to access the camera...

In this excerpt from Answercast #23, I look at an upgraded computer that cannot find its camera, why new drivers are probably needed, and where to find those current drivers.

Update those drivers

The short answer is absolutely correct; you do need to get updated drivers for that camera.

Here's what happened. Your previous system probably had installed drivers that are specific to that camera. I'm guessing you probably had Windows pre-installed on that machine and as part of that pre-installation, the manufacturer put in all of the drivers for all the hardware that the manufacturer provided. When you went to Windows 7 Ultimate, my guess is that the copy that you have simply doesn't have the drivers for every possible bit of hardware, which is not uncommon.

That's the way these things work.

What you need to do is go to either the computer manufacturer (Toshiba in this case) or potentially to the camera manufacturer, and look on their website for updated Windows 7 drivers for that camera.

Specialty software

The reason this sounds so much like drivers and so much like a third-party add-on is the behaviors that you described of moving the mouse off to one side of the screen. That is, most definitely, not a standard behavior.

That sounds like something that a specific driver added for their camera; specific software added for their camera. As a result, I really do think you're gonna have to do go off and find those drivers directly from the manufacturer.

Hardware working properly

The one thing that I wanted to comment on is this concept that the camera's working properly. My guess is you're looking in Device Manager. Unfortunately, the fact that hardware is working properly in Device Manager doesn't necessarily mean that the hardware is working completely.

All that really gets tested there are the very basic low-level fundamentals: can the computer communicate with this device over USB?

It may not necessarily even know what kind of camera it is or maybe even that it's a camera at all. It knows that it can communicate with that device. That's really all that 'device is working properly' means when you're in the Device Manager.

It's not until you install the additional drivers that are specific to that piece of hardware that the additional functionality it provides or that it requires is finally enabled.

Article C5419 - June 3, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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