How to use CamTwist in Google Hangouts

I spent several days and sprouted many new grey hairs trying to get CamTwist to work properly in my Google Hangouts, so I want to share what I’ve learned and how I do it.

After you install CamTwist, make sure your preferences are set correctly. If you previously added Safari or Chrome in the “Only load the CamTwist driver in these applications” setting, remove it. I could not get CamTwist to work right or reliably with this setting, so I select “Don’t load the CamTwist driver in these Applications” and always make sure the Applications list is empty. Here is a screenshot of my settings:

Image of my CamTwist preferences window
My CamTwist settings that work for me

Before using CamTwist in a Hangout (also applies to Skype or any other program) follow these steps:

    • Exit CamTwist
    • Exit Safari, Chrome, or whatever browser you use for Google Plus and your Hangouts
    • Exit any other programs that may share/make use of Safari or your browser, such as Google Drive or DropBox.
    • Start Camtwist

1) in the “Select Video Source” list click Webcam and click the “Select” button
2) in the “Select some effects” list, pick an effect and click “Add”
3) Click on each item in the “Step 3″ box and adjust settings, etc; Select the Tools menu and Preview to see your adjustments – Remember that the items in the Adjust settings list are displayed as layers when applicable. So if you are using a PIP for green screen or a blur, you may have to rearrange the items in this list by dragging it up or down on the list. You can adjust all of these settings at any time, even when your hangout is running.

          • Open your Browser
          • Start your Hangout
  • Click the Hangout settings gear-button in the upper right
Hangout Settings button
Click the gear-button to select your video source
  • Click the first drop down and select CamTwist as your camera

Video settings in a Google HangoutIf you don’t see CamTwist as an option for your video source or if the drop down is greyed out, then the Hangouts plugin is not seeing or finding the CamTwist driver. This can happen if you did not exit out of your browser (all windows, fully exited) before starting CamTwist or if some program is sharing/using your browser and it was not closed (see above).  Sometimes, a reboot may be needed. Sometimes, you just have to do all the steps over. Sometimes, it’s just fucking voodoo and the 9th time you do it all exactly the same as the previous 8 times, it will work.. THIS is the most frustrating part of using CamTwist with Google Hangouts.

  • After selecting CamTwist as your video source, and if all looks good in the preview window click “Save Settings”, and start your hangout! You can adjust your CamTwist settings at any time

Why use CamTwist in your Hangouts?

Camtwist effects
My “Please stand by” screen for when I go to the bathroom during a long hangout. it is animated and scrolls like an old broken TV

I use CamTwist to select new and interesting backgrounds for my Hangouts by hanging a well-lit green screen behind me, using the Image Overlay effect, then adding the Webcam source by clicking “PIP” instead of “Select”. This lets me drag any background image into the Image Overlay settings to change my background.

I also use CamTwist to adjust my brightness, and add a unique “please stand by” screen (looks like it’s on a old, blurry, scrolling TV screen).

CamTwist is a great, free program, but for some reason it does not always play-nice with Google Hangouts. If you’re having trouble or have any questions, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to help.

How to use CamTwist in Google Hangouts by
  • Kit

    Thanks for this – been having the same issue. About to reboot. Fingers crossed!

  • Dave

    I can select camtwist in the google hangout settings, but I don’t see what I’ve done in camtwist in the google hangout window

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/107418054739711167675 Rand Wilson

      @095166be2e313b2fc13d0a9afb13b667:disqus are you seeing what you did in CamTwist in the CamTwist preview? If so, but you aren’t seeing it in your Google Hangout, after selecting CamTwist as the Hangout camera I have no clue as to what’s going on.

  • Kaprice2

    Anything work for Green Screen with Google Hangouts on Windows systems?

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/107418054739711167675 Rand Wilson

      I’ve heard that ManyCam is almost as good as CamTwist, and I think you can do green screen with it.

  • http://twitter.com/THINK_Lyndon Think_Lyndon

    Thank you sir. This has saved me hours upon hours of trial and error.

  • JP

    I have tried using cam twist in my hangouts as well but for some reason I can never get the hangout to recognize the feed as a 16:9 720p source it thinks it is 4:3 and squeezes it. I can’t figure out why

    • Alexander Trust

      I have the same issue. Google Hangouts and YouTube Liverecording only show a 4:3 version. It seems as if Camtwist does not communicate in what resolution it records/broadcasts the video signal.

  • Bo Pritchard

    PIP Settings only shows a button with “Swap with video source” on it. Preview is black. Webcam shows in preview, PIP Webcam-nothing. Any idea?

    Cam Twist 2.2
    Macbook Pro
    OS X 10.7.4

    • https://plus.google.com/u/0/107418054739711167675 Rand Wilson

      Not sure what’s going on there @bopritchard:disqus !

  • passé

    bahahaha this made me lol… “Sometimes, it’s just fucking voodoo and the 9th time you do it all exactly the same as the previous 8 times, it will work..

  • http://ANewDayRealEstate.com Joe “The Connector” Kennedy

    I could get it to work with Google Hangouts, but have not been able to get the CamTwist camera to show up for selection in Skype preferences. Any suggestions? Thank you.