web camera

Whether you have a laptop with an integrated camera or a webcam that plug in via USB, you can use the applications included modern operating systems to easily take photos and record videos. With Windows 10, this is now built into Windows and no longer requires third-party applications.

This sounds simple, but it’s actually been difficult in the past. To do this on Windows 7, you’ll need to either hunt down a third-party application or dig through your Start menu and look for a manufacturer-provided utility that will be different on different PCs.

Windows 10

Windows 10 includes a “Camera” app for this purpose. Tap the Windows key to open the Start menu, search for “Camera”, and launch it. You’ll also find it under the list of All Apps.

The camera app allows you to take photos and record videos. It also provides a timer feature and other options, although it’s still a fairly simple application.

Photos you take will be stored in the “Camera Roll” folder in your user account’s “Pictures” folder.

RELATED: How to Turn On the Camera on Windows 10

Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8 inludes a Camera app, too. Open the Start screen by tapping the Windows key and type “Camera” to search for it. Launch the Camera app and use it to record photos and take videos. It work similarly to Windows 10’s Camera app, and will save photos to the “Camera Roll” folder in your user account’s “Pictures” folder.

Windows 7

Windows 7 doesn’t provide a built-in way to do this. If you look through your Start menu, you might find some sort of webcam utility that came installed with your computer. That utility might provide a way to do this without installing any more software. Search for “webcam” or “camera” in your Start menu and you might find such a utility.

Mac OS X

RELATED: How to Use macOS' Spotlight Like a Champ

You can do this with the “Photo Booth” application on a Mac. To open it, press Command+Space to open Spotlight search, type “Photo Booth”, and press Enter. You can also open Launchpad and click the “Photo Booth” icon, or open the Finder, click “Applications”, and double-click the “Photo Booth” application.

Use the icons at the bottom-left corner of photo booth to choose either a grid of four photo taken successively, a single photo, or a video. You can then click the red button in the middle of the Photo Booth window to take photos or record videos. The “Effects” button will let you apply filters to the photos and videos.

Photos you take will be stored in your Photo Booth Library, and you can also right-click (or Command-click) them in the Photo Booth window to export them and save them elsewhere.

Chrome OS

On a Chromebook, you’ll find a “Camera” app installed by default. Open the application launcher and search for “Camera” to find it. If you don’t see it, you can install it from the Chrome Web Store.

Like on other operating systems, the Camera app allows you to take photos and apply  filters to them. However, it doesn’t provide a way to record videos. Open the Chrome Web Store and look for another app if you want to record videos.

Photos are stored in the Camera app itself. You can open its gallery — click the button at the bottom-right corner of the Camera app — and you’ll be able to save photos from the gallery to your Chromebook’s local storage or your Google Drive account.

Linux distributions also offer similar applications. For example, if you’re using the GNOME desktop, you may have the “Cheese” application installed. You can probably install this application from your Linux distribution’s package manager if you don’t. It provides an easy interface for taking photos and recording videos with your webcam.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »