How to share USB webcam over network on Windows, Mac and Linux

Anna Brooks

In a poll conducted recently 158 FlexiHub users said that they use it to share a webcam over network among their Windows machines. This number surprised me, so I decided to see if there are good online guides on how to do it. Google search returned websites with questions and answers, but a proper guide was nowhere to be found. I came across questions of two types – some wanted to gain full control over another PC webcam while others wanted to know how to stream an image from one computer to another or directly to the network.

Below are the best techniques and tips I picked to share with you.

Sharing USB webcam on Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10

Get the access

76% of Windows users suppose that to allow a remote computer access a webcam, one needs to spend a lot of time adjusting Windows settings. But if you were wondering if there is a software that can share webcam with remote locations easily - there is one! Get FlexiHub here. Install it on both of your computers. Anyway, you shouldn’t worry about your OS - the app supports Windows, OS X and Linux.

You'll need to choose the subscription and create a FlexiHub account. Page with registration form will open in your browser – fill it in and click ‘Create Account’. Once account was created successfully, open FlexiHub and enter your login and password.

You may be wondering why is it necessary to create an account when you just want to share your webcam. The answer is you need an account to share devices over network instead of LAN. All devices are shared in your account and won't be openly available to everyone over local network or Internet.

Back to your camera and software.

Once you log in to your system with a webcam connected to it and open FlexiHub, you’ll see your webcam there (or rather its name displayed). Click Connect on another computer with FlexiHub installed.

That’s it. Now you can access and redirect the webcam over network and use it from other computer.

Stream video

To stream videos you will need to use special web platforms, or YouTube, or one-click software solutions.

Note: here we'll talk about video streaming over YouTube. If you prefer streaming video with software – refer to the guide for Mac OS X below, but instead of My Webcam Broadcaster described there, use Yawcam app for Windows.

To stream videos on Windows follow these steps:

Step 1
Go to YouTube features page. Make sure you're logged into the Google+ account you want to stream with.

Step 2
Click "Enable" next to "Live Events", you are allowed to do it only if your account is in good legal standing. Read the Terms and Conditions and click "I Agree" to continue.

Step 3
Click "Create Event" button. There you can give a title to your stream, add a description and tags and schedule your streaming or start streaming right away.

In the Privacy Settings you can make your stream either public – anyone can see it, or private – only those accounts you specify will see it.

Step 4
For Hangouts plugin to be able to access your webcam, you have to enable Google Hangout on Air, select "Quick" instead of "Custom".

Step 5
To activate your webcam and launch Google+ Hangouts, click "Go Live Now". If you don’t have the Google+ plugin, you will be prompted to install it and allow it to access your webcam. Once the Hangouts window opens, it will take a minute or so for the video to buffer and you are set to begin your broadcast.

Step 6
Click "Start Broadcast" to start live streaming from your webcam, ‘OK’ to confirm – and the count begins. Your broadcast can last up to eight hours.

"Control Room" option allows you to manage your viewers – if you find some of them to be disruptive, you can either mute or kick them.

Step 7
Clicking ‘Links’ at the bottom of the Hangouts window will get you the link and embedding code you can share with others. The stream will be seen automatically on your channel on YouTube.

Got questions? Please ask them in comments!

How to share USB webcam on Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and CentOS)

Get the access

For webcam sharing we’ll use USB Network Gate by Eltima Software.

Step 1
Use these commands:
To download software on your computer
dpkg -i

To install all dependencies automatically:
dpkg -i
apt-get update
apt-get install -f
dpkg -i

To install or upgrade rpm package:
yum install

Step 2
Open the app and do the following:

  1. Go to “Share local USB devices” tab
  2. In USB devices tree select the webcam you would like to share
  3. Click “Share local USB device” button
  4. “Share USB device” window will be invoked. You can see additional info about your webcam (Vendor, Manufacturer, Serial Number, etc.)

The main drawback here is a large network traffic. To decrease it turn on traffic compression. To set traffic compression algorithm go to Options.

That’s it. Other computer gets full access to the webcam as if they were physically connected.

Stream video

Setting up streaming on Linux is more convenient with VLC player.

Step 1 - setup
To install VLC on Debian, Ubuntu or Linux Mint:
$ sudo apt-get install vlc

To install VLC on Fedora, first enable RPM Fusion's free repository, then run:
$ sudo yum install vlc

To install VLC on CentOS or RHEL 6, first set up EPEL repository, and then use the following commands:
$ cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
$ sudo wget http://pkgrepo.linuxtech.net/el6/release/linuxtech.repo
$ sudo yum install vlc

Step 2 - Verify Webcam in VLC
Make sure your webcam is detected by your Linux system and VLC.

You’ll need to know the webcam’s name for that. In the example below, the webcam is named /dev/video0.
$ ls /dev/video*
/dev/video0

Then you have to test video from your webcam. Here is the command you need to use, do not forget to replace "video0" with the name of your device.
$ vlc v4l2:///dev/video0

If your webcam is successfully detected by VLC, you should be able to see your video stream.

Step 3 - Configure Webcam Streaming on VLC
You have successfully detected your webcam in VLC, next is configuring webcam streaming.

In this example webcam is streamed over HTTP in WMV format. To configure VLC for webcam streaming, first launch VLC.
$ vlc

In VLC menu choose "Streaming".

On the screen select your webcam’s or audio device’s name, e.g., /dev/video0 for webcam, and hw:0,0 for audio. Tick "Show more options" checkbox and make a note of value strings in "MRL" and "Edit Options" fields. These strings will be used later in the tutorial. Click "Stream" button.

Verify the video source, e.g., v4l2:///dev/video, and click "Next" to continue.

Choose the destination, i.e., streaming method/target, of webcam streaming. In our example we choose HTTP from the drop down list, and click "Add".

Next, specify port number and path of a streaming service. For port number, type 8080; we assume the port number is not occupied, for path - "/stream.wmv". For transcoding choose "Video - WMV + WMA (ASF)" profile from the drop down list. Click "Next".

The next screen displays automatically generated stream output string. Make a note of it and click "Stream" button.

At this point, VLC should start streaming video from your webcam over HTTP. Streaming traffic is sent directly to localhost at TCP port number 8080, so you won’t be able to see anything in the VLC window.

To verify that VLC is running correctly at TCP port 8080, run the following command, and look for VLC.
$ sudo netstat -nap | grep 8080

Step 4 - Watch Streaming Video from Webcam
Once a streaming server starts running, the webcam live feed is available at
http://:8080/stream.wmv

You can use VLC player or MPlayer to access the webcam feed as follows.
$ vlc http://:8080/stream.wmv
$ mplayer http://:8080/stream.wmv

If you are testing the feed from the same host, use loopback address 127.0.0.1 instead.

Ask your questions in the comments below.

Webcam splitting on Mac (El Capitan included)

Get the access

We used FlexiHub for Mac by Eltima Software for this guide.

First, download and install it in the Applications. Do it for all Macs that need shared access to the webcam.

To begin sharing webcam on a host computer running Mac OS X, follow these steps:

  1. Launch FlexiHub
  2. First sign in with your FlexiHub account you have created here. In the interface, you will see the list of USB devices currently connected to the host computer.

  3. You don’t have to make any additional steps on the host computer. You also may lock the devices you don’t want to be shared, but in our case the Webcam should be unlocked (it is set by default).
  4. Right click on the webcam in the list to configure some sharing options for it: select the needed compression options or change settings for currently shared devices.
  5. Once you are done with setting up the configuration for the remote webcam, click Connect on the local computer.

Now the webcam should be connected to another Mac and can be used there. If this sharing method does not work for you or for some reason you do not find it suitable, try to set up video streaming.

Stream video on Mac

Follow this step-by-step guide:

Step 1
Find an app to stream your webcam. I recommend using a free app called My Webcam Broadcaster for Mac.

Note: Compared to online streaming platforms, YouTube or encoders these apps are usually less functional, i.e. they have less features, less customization options and the streaming quality is lower. They work perfectly fine though if you need them for monitoring your house or office, as they are simple, easy-to-use and reliable.

Step 2
Download and install the app.

Step 3
Allow the app to access your webcam. Note that you might need to update your Flash plugin for this to work.

Step 4
Start streaming!

"Go Live" button starts streaming video from your webcam to a video player at a designated URL. You can view this URL on your browser or through the app on your mobile device.

Go to the app's settings and change the values to get the video quality and resolution you want.

Step 5
Share the URL on social media to get an audience for your live stream.

The best thing about using the app is that it is simple – download, install, stream, and share. All it takes is a few minutes and a couple of clicks.

Just like with other live streams, you can manage viewers of your video – remove those you do not like; or watch it yourself – set it as ‘private’ in the Settings.

Download free Elmedia Player to watch streams on other Macs.

Any questions?