In this photo illustration the American video Communications company Zoom logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a computer model of the COVID-19 coronavirus on the background. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Remember in early 2020 when we were excited to join Zoom happy hours, and every meeting was a video?
If you still are meeting with clients, coworkers, and friends via video, you might as well look and sound good. Tap or click for my top Zoom tips.
Maybe you’re back to the office or at least not taking as many video calls. One clever use for your webcam, or an old phone or laptop, is to turn it into a security camera. Tap or click here for steps to set it up in under a minute.
Here are five more ways to get your money’s worth out of your webcam.
1. Use it to scan documents to your computer
Taking a photo, cropping it, emailing it to yourself, then uploading it or attaching it to another email is a pain. If you need an image on your computer, use your webcam. Even a decent webcam is good enough to scan a document for you.
On a Mac:
Open Photo Booth. Your webcam will automatically open.Place your document in front of the webcam and line it up on the screen.Hit the red photo icon to take a picture. It will then appear in the bottom right corner. Drag it onto your desktop or into a folder.
On a Windows PC:
Open the Camera app.Line up your document before the webcam, then hit the white camera icon to snap a photo.Your photo will appear in the bottom right corner. Click it to open, then click the three dots in the upper right.Choose Open folder to see where it is stored on your computer, then move it anywhere you like.
More screen smarts: Time-saving secret every smart TV user should turn on now
(Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)
2. Set up a photobooth
Set up a photo booth at your next get-together using your webcam. People can walk up to the computer and take solo or group shots, which can be shared with everyone at the party. Throw in some fun accessories for people to wear if you like.
Photo Booth Pro is a free app for Windows that lets you add real-time effects to your images and videos and capture single photos or photo strips. The footage is saved locally or to OneDrive.
On a Mac, open Photo Booth, then click the Effects button in the lower right corner to jazz up the photos. Plastic Camera and Comic Book are fun!
Sick of blurry, boring photos? Scroll through my 5 ways to take better photos and videos with your phone.
3. Unlock your computer with your face
Why should your phone get all the neat security features? You probably use a password to unlock your computer, but you can take your privacy a step further with facial recognition.
Windows Hello lets you use a PIN, facial recognition, or fingerprint to unlock your Windows 10 and 11 devices. Windows Hello Face uses infrared technology to scan your face, so you need a compatible webcam.
Speaking on security, is it safest to use a passcode, facial recognition, or your fingerprint to unlock your phone? Here’s my verdict.
This product, sold exclusively through PetSmart, you keep an eye on Felix or Snoopy while you’re away. In addition to viewing furry friends remotely, users can pan, tilt and zoom cameras through their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. There’s also two-way audio to allow remote conversations between you and your pet, infrared night vision, temperature monitoring and the ability to take snapshots and record video, just in case Fido does something especially cute.
4. Use your body as a mouse
Wait, really? Yes! Control the actions on your computer without a mouse.
CameraMouse is a free program that lets you use your head to move your mouse pointer on the screen. The software was developed for people with cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, ALS, MS, brain injury and various neurological disorders.
5. Shoot time-lapse videos
Time-lapse videos are fun to create and share. You can do a time-lapse of your face over a year or compress your 2-hour house party into a 20-second time-lapse video. The only limit is your imagination.
VideoVelocity lets you record time-lapse video from any webcam. You can grab snapshots from the footage and do with them as you please. The program is free, but you can upgrade to the HD version for $98.
Bonus Tip: How advertisers collect your data and target you with ads
Male, 38 years old, married, two kids under 5, watched a YouTube video about lawn care, visited a home improvement store in the last 10 days, listened to a podcast about lawns, earns $68,000 a year in a management position, and lives in a certain zip code. That’s how specific advertising can be today. In this episode, I sit down with advertising CTO Premesh Purayil from Freestar to learn how it works and how to opt-out of the data tracking.
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Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, «Komando.»
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters, and more, visit her website at Komando.com.