Solutions for the “broken camera” icon and grayed out options bug in Video Call and Webcam

So you’ve set up your camera successfully in Messenger.  Next, you click the Video button at the top of the screen, your contact accepts and you see them but all they see is:

Or instead of a video call, you want to use the Show my webcam feature but when you try it appears grayed out:

The solution
With thanks to my good friend Sam (otherwise known to some as Underlord), after suffering with this for awhile, you can now workaround this bug by re-enabling the “Allow others to see that I have a webcam” option.  To get to that option, open up any Messenger window, press the Alt key on the keyboard to bring up Messenger’s menu bar, then choose Tools and then Options.

Finally at the bottom of the first options category, verify that the “Allow others to see that I have a webcam” options is selected and click OK.

You’ll now need to sign out of Messenger and sign back in.  To do this, just right-click the notification area icon (Windows XP/Vista) or taskbar button (Windows 7) and choose Sign Out.  Then right-click it again and choose Sign In.


You should now be able to initiate a video call successfully and select the show webcam option.

My show webcam option is still grayed out
There’s another bug in Messenger where in some cases the show webcam option will still be grayed out, regardless of your allow others to see option as described above.  To work around this problem, you’ll again need to open up any Messenger window, press the Alt key on the keyboard to bring up the menu bar, choose Tools and then choose Audio and video setup.

Click Next on the audio setup screen to get to the webcam selection.  From the dropdown, select Disable.  Then finally choose Finish.   
Next, hit the Alt key again to bring up the menu bar, again choose Tools, and then Audio and video setup.  Click Next to get back to the webcam selection, click the dropdown and choose the webcam you just set to disabled.  Finally choose Finish and you should have a working show webcam option again. 

In testing, it seems you may need to repeat this process with every Messenger session.

Note: There are plenty of other webcam issues dealing with connectivity and some driver issues which won’t be fixed by either of these solutions.  Future blog entries will deal with some of these issues.


Posted on July 15, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. thank, you sosososososososososososososososososososososososososososososo much

  2. thanks mate, that was becoming beyond irritating 😀

  3. Than you Jason for all your help. I could not get my windows live messenger working. It is now working from your help on this site.

  4. thanks a heap !

  5. Hey, i had to completely reboot my laptop last night and then today i downloaded msn live messenger again, i have vista operating system, when on msn it only allows video calls, and if anyone tries to send me their webcam invitation it tells them ive declined it, in which it doesnt show up on my msn conversation. its driving me nuts, do you know what the problem would be ? get back to me asap pleasee

  6. thx for the help

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