A webcam driver is a type of software file used by a computer to properly identify, connect to, and function with a webcam that is connected to the motherboard of the computer. Without proper drivers installed for a webcam, the webcam would likely not function properly and may not even be usable, as it would likely be an unidentified piece of hardware to the computer. A webcam driver allows the computer, specifically the operating system (OS) on the computer, to recognize a webcam that is attached to it and function appropriately with that webcam.
Drivers are computer files needed by an OS to properly recognize the various pieces of hardware interconnected to form a complete computer system. Different computers and different types of OS may use various drivers and require drivers for different purposes, but ultimately they allow a computer to fully operate and utilize each part of the computer system properly. A webcam is a type of camera that can be connected to a computer, usually through a universal serial bus (USB) port, and capture video images. These images can then be easily saved for replay or upload to various websites or broadcast live over the Internet.
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A webcam driver is a file that the OS of a computer uses to properly recognize a connected webcam and function with that device. Many types of OS now have certain drivers included with them and these default drivers are installed as part of the OS installation. This allows a device of a certain type, such as a basic mouse or keyboard, to be connected and used without further software installation. For other devices, such as a webcam, to gain the full benefit of the webcam, these default drivers are not always sufficient and a more specific webcam driver may be needed.
For a webcam, for example, that is connected to a computer for the first time, default drivers in the OS may be able to recognize the device and even use it in some ways. To utilize all of the abilities of the webcam, however, a webcam driver would likely need to be installed for that specific webcam to fully function as a part of the computer system. Without the proper webcam driver being installed, the webcam may not work with certain programs, or specific features may be unavailable. Most webcams come with a compact disc (CD) or digital versatile disc (DVD) that contains drivers for that product, and updated drivers are usually available on webcam manufacturer websites.