Setting Up a Web cam for Video Chats

January 13, 2009

in Internet

by Tina Gasperson

Video chatting is a fun and easy way to keep in touch with people too far away to visit often. Grandparents love to use this method to “see” their grandchildren and interact with them remotely. Sometimes parents who have to work long hours set up video cams with sound at home to feel closer to their family. Others use video chatting as just the latest way to “do” chatting – instead of typing your conversation and reading the responses, you just speak and watch.

To start video chatting, naturally, you’ll need a computer with a broadband Internet connection – DSL, cable, or FIOS. Dial-up connections are too slow to have a Jetsons-style video chat. Make sure you purchase a Web cam that has a built in microphone, as this makes the entire setup process much easier. Microsoft’s Lifecam series of Web cams have built in microphones, are optimized for video chatting, and are reasonably priced. Or search Google Shopping to find a full range of web cams to suit your needs.

Once you’ve installed your new Web cam, turn on your computer speakers and use your favorite instant messenger application to connect with your family and friends. Windows Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and others allow easy integration with your Web cam. Follow the instructions in each of these programs to make full use of all the options included with your camera.

If you’re looking for new friends, or you’d like to set up your own video/audio stream that others can view, head over to, a social networking site that relies on chats and video streams to connect people. Add people to your network, and then connect to them via the site and converse using your Web cam, computer speakers, and microphone.

If you’re “of a certain age” you’ll remember watching episodes of the popular cartoons series The Jetsons, where family members were able to see each other remotely while talking on the phone. Back then, that seemed far-fetched. Now, video chatting seems like a normal part of life in the 21st century. So I just want to know, where is my flying car?

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.