How to use Facebook video chat

Mike Wehner, Tecca
View photos

Facebook's long-rumored video chat feature is finally here, giving you an opportunity to look into the eyes of all 5,000 of your "friends." The service was just announced today, and is already up and running. We're here to show you how it works, and just how simple it is to get started.

Although the new service will technically roll out to all users over the next few weeks, if you want to get in on the action early and don't see it enabled yet for your profile, just head over to the Facebook video calling corner and request access before following the steps below.

  1. The video chat feature works hand-in-hand with Facebook's built-in chat system. The first step to starting a video feed with someone is simply choosing their name from the chat sidebar and opening a messaging session.
  2. In the blue bar at the top of the chat window you'll notice a new video icon — click it. If this is your first time using Facebook video chat (given the fact that you're reading a guide, we'd guess the answer is "yes") you will be prompted to download and install the software needed to make the service play nice with your webcam and/or microphone.
  3. After the installation file is downloaded, double click it to being the installation process. Depending on your computer operating system, the installation may require you to grant permission to the computer to access your webcam and microphone. If this occurs, simply allow access and finish the installation.
  4. When the installation is complete your video chat session should begin automatically. If it doesn't, simply click the video icon to try again. If your chat partner agrees to the video session, a window will pop up displaying both your partner and yourself.
  5. You can select your audio device by clicking the bar at the bottom of the video window. A drop down menu will display all the audio devices currently hooked up to your computer, allowing you to pick the correct one.
  6. To end a video session, simply close the video window by clicking the X in the corner.
View photos

That's everything you need to know to proceed on your video chat escapades, but perhaps text chat is more your style. If that's the case, be sure to check out our guide to Facebook group chat — a feature that was also just announced today. Enjoy!

More from Tecca: