Did you Powerwash your Chromebook to fix the camera, and it still doesn’t work?
(Argh! How frustrating when all you wanna do is just get online for your lecture. It’s like making something you don’t wanna do even more difficult. I HATE that feeling!)
Powerwashing is often the last resort for many frustrated Chromebook owners because it completely wipes your device. Having to reinstall all your favorite apps and restore your settings is annoying.
But when you Powerwash because your Chromebook’s camera wasn’t working, and then it STILL doesn’t work afterward, there could be a manufacturing defect that you’ll need to rule out.
But hopefully not. Let’s go through the troubleshooting steps to see if we can resolve it so you can get your webcam back up and running once again.
Many readers are using Chromebooks in a learning environment (distance education or WFH environments) and the built-in camera is critical for online virtual classrooms, presentations, lectures, notes, meeting, or remote learning. So I hope this guide helps you out.
If you still can’t get it working after going through all the steps on this page, feel free to post a comment and I’ll try to help you out.
Do you have a school, work, or personal Chromebook?
If you have a personal Chromebook that you bought yourself, then you’ll be good to go for troubleshooting.
(You also need your OWN GOOGLE account, not a school email or else this won’t work.)
Otherwise, a school or work loaner Chromebook will be pretty hard to fix due to the many limitations. Contact your IT personnel for instructions or just let them fix it.
School or work admins can disable the camera so even if you launch it, you’ll just see a black or blank screen.
If you don’t see the error message, it could be due to this restriction. They probably don’t want you video chatting with friends during times when you’re supposed to be productive.
The only way around this is to contact your administrator if it’s a school or work borrowed laptop.
Just wanted to get that out of the way first. Borrowed Chromebooks are extremely restricted in what they can do, depending on the admin settings.
If you purchased a used one that hasn’t been properly removed from the enrollment, get a refund! It’s bricked.
OK, onto the camera fixing now.
Check the error message when opening the camera
The most common message you’ll see is “camera not found” or “camera unavailable”.
This is just a blank screen with nothing but the error message. If this is what you see, move on to the next step.
If you see something else, follow the instructions to reset the camera. This guide is written for the former message.
Note that the CAMERA app is a Play Store app.
So it needs to be installed by your school or work’s IT team in the first place. If it’s not installed, you can’t launch it. It needs to be allowed by the team first.
Check that you’re signed in with a PERSONAL Google Account
You need to be signed in to your personal Chromebook using your personal Google login.
The camera app needs to be preinstalled on the Chromebook if you’re using a school email or Chromebook. Most likely, they won’t do it. They probably don’t expect it to be used for productivity.
Regardless, they can change settings at any time. If your camera worked before even on a borrowed Chromebook using your work/school email, they may have enabled it without you knowing.
You need to use your personal device with your own personal credentials.
Disable Chrome extensions
First, let’s disable extensions.
They can indirectly mess with the camera functionality, so why not rule it out? If you install Chromebook extensions like you’re collecting coins in Super Mario, you may have one that’s forcing your camera to not work properly.
Launch Chrome then type in “chrome://extensions” in the URL bar.
Disable everything that is related to the camera or influences how Chrome functions. Or just turn them all off. No need to uninstall them- just turn them off by disabling them.
Close Chrome completely. Then, launch the Camera app. Restarting the app may clear out any lingering data in the background that could be making your camera freeze or glitched out.
Remove Play Store apps
If it still doesn’t work, do the same thing with your Play Store apps installed on your Chromebook. Remove everything that you think may influence how your camera behaves.
If you just did a Powerwash, there should be nothing installed.
But if it’s been a few days and you’ve downloaded the same apps as you did before your last Powerwahs, it can be the same app that’s causing issues!
Reinstall apps that require camera access or show errors
If the apps you’re using can’t find the camera, try reinstalling them to see if it fixes it.
For example, if you’re using Instagram but then it can’t find the camera, install it.
Restart your Chromebook. Then install it again. See if that works.
Try other apps and see if they work other than the “broken” one. There are a lot of complaints online from people who can’t get their camera to work with popular apps like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Spam, etc.
When you’re trying to take that selfie for your TikTok followers and it just doesn’t work? It ruins the moment. Might as well uninstall it.
Update your Chromebook to get pending updates
Updating ChromeOS will get you the latest updates, which include bug fixes. Even though it seems like it’s far-fetched, you never if the update includes patches for the camera.
If not, perhaps ChromeOS needs an update.
As you know, the team behind ChromeOS is releasing both major and minor updates frequently. Your device may be due for an update.
These updates fix glitches and bugs and your camera issue may be one of the issues the latest update addresses.
Check for updates then update your Chromebook:
- Launch Chrome
- Click on the Menu > About Google Chrome
- Check for updates
- Install them if they’re found
- Restart your Chromebook if updates are downloaded to complete them
Note that you must restart it completely- not just shut the lid. That doesn’t update your machine.
Restart your Chromebook completely
That brings us to our next trick- restarting your Chromebook! So easy, but so overlooked.
Just restart your Chromebook using the option in the Launcher. Do NOT just shut the lid or hold down the power button.
Restart it by selecting it from the menu option and letting it sit to do it on its own. Once it’s done, sign in again, launch the Camera app, and check if it’s working now.
If it magically fixes itself, it’s likely some lingering processes in the background from poorly coded extensions or apps. Restarting your Chromebook clears the system RAM.
Or it could just be pending ChromeOS updates that have been sitting there.
Charge your Chromebook to a full battery
Some people have reported that the camera won’t function if there’s not sufficient charge in the Chromebook battery. Plug it in and give it a full charge. Restart it. Then try launching the camera again.
If this is true, it’s probably some built-in mechanism that conserves the last few percentages of battery power for the system itself rather than running the camera, which will drain the power.
Try it before you knock it, especially if your Chromebook has a worn battery. Or just try using it while plugged in?
Try external cameras (USB webcams)
Your Chromebook can connect to external webcams using USB ports.
If you just can’t get your webcam working (hardware defect), or you just don’t have time to fix it, consider getting a webcam that’s compatible with Chromebooks. A lot of these just connect directly to the USB-C port (or USB-A) like other peripherals.
Then you launch the Chromebook’s Camera app and it should recognize it if it’s compatible. Click the toggle camera button on the app to switch.
Considering lugging a webcam around with your Chromebook gear is it worth it?
If you’re doing work that requires a clear, crisp picture of yourself online, then external webcams are a must.
The built-in webcam is generally only 720p, which is outdated by today’s standards. It’s considered “HD” for high definition, but then you have webcams that are 1080p, 4K, and soon to be 8K.
Yes, it’s another piece of equipment to bring with you. But it can be mounted on the lid so it’s front-facing right in front of you. Or you can get a webcam stand so it can be put on the side.
Webcams are superior to built-in cameras. If the work you do requires clear, crisp streaming, then it’s worth investing in one for yourself.
Use a webcam monitoring service online
There are some websites you can use to check if your webcam is working or properly connected. You can test both the webcam built into your machine or external USB webcams.
Remember to ALLOW the site to ACCESS YOUR CAMERA! You’ll get the dialog warning show up as soon as the site tries to communicate with your device.
On default Chrome settings, you’ll see a warning message at the top of the page that you need to consent to before it can test it. If you don’t see the message, the settings were changed to either allow or block all request for camera access.
Try these online sites to see if they can recognize your Chromebook’s camera:
- webcamtests.com (click on the silver “test my webcam” button, allow permissions, see if you get a picture on the video player!)
- onlinemictest.com (click on the “play” button, allow permissions, check to see if you see yourself in the preview on the panel)
When you test, does your webcam’s light turn on? If permissions are allowed, you should see yourself on the screen.
- If the camera is found, then it’s likely an issue with whatever app you’re using that can’t find it. Try restarting your Chromebook, uninstalling the broken app, then reinstalling it again.
- If the camera can’t be found, then it’s likely an issue with your camera specifically. It could be damaged (hardware issue), improperly connected, or your Chromebook may not recognize it.
It can also be a software issue such as lingering data, RAM cache, or pending updates. There Are too many reasons to name.
Remove camera restrictions (content settings) on websites
Some sites that ask for your camera’s permission may have been blocked by your content settings.
In Chrome, whenever a site asks for your location, camera, microphone, or other accessories, you have the option of allowing access or blocking it.
It’s possible that whatever site you’re trying to access has blocked permissions for the camera.
Check the restrictions blocklist in Chrome by going to your content settings:
- Launch Chrome
- Click More > Settings > Privacy and security
- Click on Site Settings
- View the permissions to find the sites with camera restrictions- if any exist.
- Remove the blocks to allow the app/site to use your camera
These permission settings are easy to dismiss so a lot of people restrict content settings without even realizing it. Just click the button and make the popup go away.
It’s only when things break or don’t work that you have to fix it. There’s gotta be an easier way someday. Telepathy perhaps?
Try a Hardware reset
A hardware reset is not the same as Powerwashing. It can help fix hardware problems that are causing issues for your device.
Peripherals such as the RAM, webcam, touchpad, keyboard, or other accessories may not be detected by the mobo, so resetting the hardware can restart it.
It’s the next step to fixing software issues on your Chromebook if a Powerwash doesn’t work. If you’ve tried Powerwashing but the camera still says it’s unavailable, then try a hardware reset:
Power off your Chromebook. Be sure to turn it off completely!
Confused about all these different repair methods? Here’s a brief rundown so you know what you’re doing:
- Powerwash. This completely restores your laptop back to default settings like when it was new. It should be used as a last resort when you just can’t fix it. But if you’re reading this guide, you already did this and the camera still doesn’t work.
- Chromebook recovery (Chrome Recovery Utility Tool). This restores your Chromebook back to functioning state, but requires that you create a restore point on a backup medium. People don’t usually do this, so it’s not that practical.
- Hardware reset. This resets the hardware (keyboard, touchpad, RAM, speakers, display, webcam, USB peripherals, etc.). It can help fix issues with detecting or connecting accessories to your Chromebook.
- Settings reset. This just resets Chrome back to default settings, which removes content settings like blocked cameras, mics, locations, or sensors. Good to use if you changed settings on Chrome and don’t know what you did. Fixes it instantly without losing saved credentials like bookmarks or usernames/passwords.
Yes, it’s a lot to take in. But it can help you pinpoint where the problem lies. Each of these restore methods have a unique time and place to utilize them.
For example, if you do a setting reset and the camera still doesn’t work, then you know it’s not a random setting you mistakenly toggled which broke it.
Only do this if you’ve done a Powerwash and it didn’t resolve the issue. It’ll delete the items saved locally on your Chromebook (such as files in your Downloads folder).
If this doesn’t work, try a settings reset (covered next). It could be a setting that just needs fixing to get your camera working again. Let’s find out.
Or do a Settings reset
Lastly, you can try doing a settings reset.
This is different from a hardware reset, even though they sound similar. This will restore your browser settings to the default mode (how it was when it was new) so it can undo any actions you’ve taken.
For example, if you changed some menu option a long time ago that you are completely oblivious to now, it’ll revert it.
Perhaps you blocked the camera on some websites or applications. Or you randomly clicked on warning messages to make them go away without realizing that you permanently changed some settings on the backend. This can obviously affect how your camera performs.
So resetting them may fix the problem. Sometimes, apps you download from the Play Store or Chrome extensions you install can change how your Chromebook behaves.
They may even be rogue extensions that can modify behavior without your consent!
(This is exactly why you shouldn’t be downloading random apps/extensions unless you trust them).
Even though ChromeOS is very stable, it can still be compromised with dangerous extensions or apps. Google usually removes these eventually, but who wants to be the guinea pig that downloads it first).
See the official blog of Malwarebytes for a good example of “bad” apps on the Play Store that harvested user data secretly. That’s why you don’t just go DL’ing whatever your friends are telling you to. Friends don’t let friends install shady Play Store apps!
(Friends also don’t lie.)
OK, so back on track…
Here’s how to reset your settings:
- Launch Chrome
- Click on the menu at the top right of the screen
- Look for Settings > Advanced in the dropdown menu selector
- Click on Reset settings
- Click on Restore settings to their original defaults
- Follow the on-screen dialog
- Accept the changes
This will reset Chrome settings to their defaults. But it won’t delete things like passwords, usernames, fonts, accessibility settings, etc. So those remain intact.
So if you save your credentials in Chrome, don’t worry about them getting wiped out.
Resetting your Chrome settings to default will do the following:
- It’ll change your default search engine back to Google
- Your tabs will be closed
- Your homepage will be set to the default page
- Customize new tab pages will be reverted back to normal
- Cookies will be erased
- Chrome extensions will be uninstalled
- Chrome themes will be deleted
- Pinned tabs will be deleted
- Content settings will be reverted to default
- Camera, sensors, locations, microphone, etc. lists will be cleared (allow or block lists for websites to access these peripherals)
While this restores Chrome back to normal, it may or may not restore your camera. If you’re still getting the error when trying to use the camera, it’s definitely NOT a Chrome setting that’s rendering it unavailable.
You can rule this out. Process of elimination in action. But let’s move on to the next solution to fix your Chromebook camera.
If you’re still getting a black or blank screen when you try to use it, then keep reading for more troubleshooting solutions.
Use the Chromebook Recovery Tool
If you’ve created a Chromebook backup to an external flash drive, hard drive, or personal cloud drive, you can restore it using the Chrome Recovery Utility.
Those things come in handy, no?
Of course, this will only work if you’ve actually made the backup in the first place. If not, then there’s no restore point for your Chrormeobok to repair itself.
For those with data points that they can restore to, here’s a tutorial on how to use the Chromebook Recovery Utility.
Note that this will restore your Chromebook to exactly how it was when you created the restore point. If you were already having webcam issues (showing the camera unavailable error), then it won’t fix it.
It’ll just restore it back to an earlier time when your camera was broken.
Contact the manufacturer for exchange or return
If you purchased your Chromebook less than 12 months ago, you can get it repaired under warranty. Depending on the build, you may be able to get it fixed or replaced for free.
Some will charge for shipping or other miscellaneous costs, so be careful.
But most of the popular brands that build these things are easy to work with. Just contact the manufacturer, get an RMA, and follow the steps to get it repaired.
This is a lot cheaper than buying a new one and saves you time. In the meantime, you’ll have to find a replacement for your Chromebook.
No matter if you have a Dell, HP, Acer, Samsung, ASUS, or some other brand of Chromebook, the basic manufacturer warranty still applies to all of them.
Some brands may offer extended warranties or you may have purchased one from the retailer. If you used a credit card, they may have special warranty periods that cover damage or defects.
Post your issue on the Chromebook Support Forums
Google hosts their own community-driven forums for Chromebook support.
Consider posting your question there for help from community experts or other uses alike. The forums are busy with helpful people that have much more experience in the subject.
Note that the people on there are volunteers and responding to questions without pay, rather than official Google employees.
So be polite, considerate and detailed in your post!
Here are some tips on getting a useful reply:
- Type out what you’ve tried so far in detail
- Type out what you think the issue is
- List your Chromebook model, ChromeOS version, etc.
- Explain the issue in detail (what causes it, quirky things, how to trigger it, etc.)
- Screenshots of the issue at hand
Someone will chime in with suggestions on how to fix the issue. For free!
It’s your good old fashioned support forum back in the good old days of the Internet. Who needs social media trolls? Every 90s kid will understand when forums dominated the web!
You can also use the search function and find other posts from people that may have had similar issues to you. Maybe you can find a solution there in resolved posts. It can’t hurt other than cost you a few minutes of your time.
The Google Chromebook support forum is free to use. You just need to sign up.
Other common camera problems (Q&A)
Here are some other similar issues regarding the Chromebook camera that people have.
Getting a black screen or error message?
When the camera stops working, you’ll either see one of two things when you try to use it:
- An error message that says:
“Can’t find your camera”
“Your camera is currently unavailable. Please check if the camera is properly connected.”Every Chromebook that loves to troll their owners
- A blank screen (solid black with nothing on it)
If you get the blank screen, it’s completely black with nothing on it. This is usually due to a hardware problem (broken camera) or restrictions by your school or work admin.
If you get the error message, then it can be a software issue, content rule, or some other setting that’s disabling the camera.
Why did my camera stop working on my Chromebook?
Why is my Chromebook camera not working on Zoom or Teams or Hangouts?
Some people having camera problems reported that they can use the camera in SOME apps, but not others. Sometimes they work intermittently. Or sometimes they don’t work at all. For example:
My camera works on Microsoft Teams but not Zoom
My camera only works on Google Hangouts, but not Zoom
My camera worked once on Zoom, but never again.Every frustrated Chromebook owner before smashing their laptop
Whatever combo of issues you have, it’s important to rule out the possibilities:
First, test the camera on a different app from the one that’s not working.
If it’s not working on Zoom, try Hangouts (it’s free and doesn’t require downloading) as long as you have a Google Account (which you do if you have a Chromebook- unless you’re using Guest mode).
This way you can see if it’s really an issue with your cam or just the platform.
This makes discovering where the issue lies that’s causing your camera to stop working much easier to go off of.
Does the camera work on one platform but not the other?
Then this is likely a software issue with the specific website.
The camera works fine, but the website has some technical glitch that prevents it from communicating with your camera.
Here are some things you can do:
- Check your content settings to make sure that you didn’t block the site from webcam access
- Try resetting your Chrome settings
- Try using the site in incognito mode
- Try using the site in Guest mode
- Try the camera in another app. If it works in the other app, uninstall the “broken” app then reinstall it
- Use an online website to see if the webcam can be recognized (if not, then it’s something wrong with especially YOUR webcam and not the apps)
- Contact the support team for more info if you can’t get it working
There may be some lingering data stuck in the cache, software glitches, driver issues, or the site just may be having trouble finding your camera.
- If it works intermittently on the same site (it’s likely a technical issue with the site)
- If it works on one app but not the other (it’s likely something wrong with the integration between the “broken” site- contact their support)
- If it doesn’t work on any site (it’s likely a problem with your camera, either hardware or software, use the steps above to fix it)
Yes, I know this sounds like a broken record by now.
Where are the Camera settings on a Chromebook?
The Camera settings are in the Camera app. You can toggle the options when you have the app running:
- Click on the Launcher icon at the bottom left
- Find the Camera app or search for it in the search field
- Launch the app
When the Camera pops up and the preview panel shows, you can change the Camera settings from this panel.
The options are limited, so it’s not like an iPhone with a bunch of settings
But you can adjust the basics settings for the perfect picture:
- Change the grid type (3×3, 4×4, golden ratio)
- Toggle between video, photo, or square
- Save your location
- Turn on/off camera sounds
- View the front/rear camera photo resolutions or aspect ratios
- If you have two or more cameras (such as those in convertible Chromebooks) you can toggle between them or change their settings individually
- Choose between internal or external cams
- Change photo locations (local or Google Drive)
Here are some tips to optimize your Chromebook camera if you have blurry, dark, or bad picture quality.
The camera light is on, but the screen is blank!
If the camera’s LED light is lit up, but you still don’t see any picture or video in the preview pane, then try updating your laptop to the latest version, resetting your Chrome settings, and also uninstall then reinstall the app that’s giving you camera troubles.
If you launch the Camera app but it still says “No camera found” across all apps, then you’ll want to look into doing a hardware reset (outlined earlier on this page). It could be a manufacturing defect since the light signals that the camera is ON.
Contact the manufacturer or your IT team if you still can’t get it working after trying everything.
Did you fix your Chromebook’s camera even after a Powerwash failed?
Fixing troublesome issues is just being robotic and going through the troubleshooter guide. It’s really the process of elimination.
Pinpointing what’s causing the camera to not work is key
When you can eliminate if it’s a hardware or software issue, it becomes easy.
The camera is a useful peripheral- often critical for many users. It’s just a matter of finding out if it’s the camera itself that’s damaged, or if it’s related to pending updates, bugs, or application integration problems.
With this guide, I hope you were able to figure out what was causing your camera to fail and resolve it.
If you’re still having problems trying to get it resolved, leave a comment below and let me know!
Or if you were able to get it fixed, share your troubleshooting words of wisdom with others who may get some ideas to fix theirs!