Disable Windows webcam and privacy
Microsoft Windows doesn't always allow you to control the webcam the way you want and may enable your webcam even if you don't want it enabled. This is why we created camDown. To allow you to temporarily disable your laptop camera or webcam in one click
With that in mind, in Windows, having a webcam and microphone as part of your laptop or desktop computer allows you to use Zoom, Skype, Google Duo, Discord, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Teams, and other apps to make video calls, take pictures, record videos, and more. Many apps and services request and use your webcam / camera or microphone, and Windows settings can give you some control over which apps can use your webcam or microphone.
Privacy is important
Some people rightfully worry about unknown apps, organizations, or malware using their webcam or microphone. Whenever your webcam or microphone are used, you should be in charge. To help you understand when your webcam is turned on, the following indicators are provided:
- If your device comes with a webcam light, the light will turn on when the webcam is in use.
- If your system doesn’t have a webcam light, you’ll get a notification to let you know when the webcam turns on or off.
To help you understand when your microphone is in use, the following indicators are provided:
- A microphone icon will be displayed in the notification area of the taskbar.
To see which apps are currently using your webcam or microphone or have recently accessed your webcam or microphone
- In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Camera or Start > Settings > Privacy > Microphone.
- In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings > Privacy & security > Camera or Start > Settings > Privacy & Security > Microphone.
Note:This functionality does not exist in Windows 10 versions 1809 and earlier.
Again, Windows may not allow you to control your webcam the way you want and can enable your webcam even if you don't want it enabled. That is why we created camDown. To allow *you to completely control your webcam
Microsoft allows for some settings to control your webcam or camera, as described in the following sections.
Your webcam or microphone controls might be turned off already if you’re using a device assigned to you by your workplace or if you’ve added a work account to your personal device. If that’s the case, you’ll see Some settings are managed by your organization at the top of the Camera or Microphone settings pages.
Three types of webcams
There are three types of webcams that apps and services may have access to, depending on what type of webcams come with or are installed on your device:
- A color webcam is used for taking traditional color photos or videos.
- An infrared webcam takes a gray scale (black and white) photo or video based on infrared intensity.
- A depth webcam can see the shapes of items in front of it, and how far they are from the device. For example, a depth webcam can be used to recognize when a person is in front of the device.
How to control which Microsoft Store apps can use the webcam
- Do one of the following:
- In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Camera.
- In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings > Privacy & Security> Camera.
- Choose whether you want to allow apps to access your webcam by turning the setting On or Off.
- Choose which apps can access your webcam by turning the individual settings for apps On or Off.
- Use camDown to control your webcam simply and easily.
For more info, check out this how-to video on managing your webcam privacy settings.
Note: Even if you turn the webcam off for each app listed in your webcam settings page, some of the listed apps might still be able to open the webcam to let you take pictures or videos. But the webcam won’t capture images or video unless you explicitly select the Photo or Video button.
How to control which Microsoft Store apps can use the microphone
- Do one of the following:
- In Windows 10, go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Microphone.
- In Windows 11, go to Start > Settings > Privacy & security > Microphone.
- Choose whether you want to allow apps to access your microphone by turning the setting On or Off.
- Choose which apps can access your microphone by turning the individual settings for apps On or Off.
- Use camDown to control your webcam with ease.
How to allow a website to use your webcam or microphone while web browsing in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox
You can use your webcam and microphone for websites in Microsoft Edge. However, even when your webcam and microphone are enabled for web browsers, you will still need to give individual websites permission before they can use your webcam and microphone.
- Go to a website that wants to use your microphone and/or webcam.
- If a dialog box appears asking if you want to give the website permission to use your webcam or microphone, select Allow once or Always allow, or close the dialog box to block access.
How to stop a website from using your webcam or microphone in Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox
- In Microsoft Edge, select Settings and more and then select Settings.
- Select Advanced settings, and then under Website permissions, select Manage permissions.
- Select the website you want to manage.
- Under webcam or Microphone, turn the switch to Off to disable access for that website.
Note: Some websites might not work if you choose to block them from accessing your webcam or microphone. For example, you might not be able to join a video conference.
Exceptions to the webcam and microphone privacy settings
If you turn on Windows Hello, it will use your webcam to sign you in even if the setting that allows apps to access your webcam is turned off! If Windows Hello is turned off, it can’t access your webcam. (Windows Hello, part of Windows 10 and later, is a new way to sign in to your devices, apps, online services, and networks.)
Starting with Windows 10 version 1903, an additional setting is available on webcam and microphone settings pages that provides limited control over desktop apps that access your webcam and microphone using supported methods. This setting is called Allow desktop apps to access your webcam or Allow desktop apps to access your microphone in Windows 10 and Let desktop apps access your webcam or Let desktop apps access your microphone in Windows 11. Here you will find the list of desktop apps that Windows has detected which have interacted with the webcam or microphone. Turning the setting on or off will impact all apps listed under this setting.
You can avoid most of these issues by using camDown.
- You can select any of the apps listed to get details about the specific file on your device that accessed the webcam or microphone.
- If you use an app or Windows feature that uses your webcam or microphone indirectly through a Windows component, you will see the Windows component listed instead. For example, if you interact with Cortana using your microphone you would see "Speech Runtime Executable."
- If you turn off the Allow desktop apps to access your webcam or Allow desktop apps to access your microphone settings in Windows 10, or the Let desktop apps access your webcam or Let desktop apps access your microphone settings in Windows 11, you can impact some Windows features from using your webcam or microphone, such as Cortana or Windows dictation.
Desktop apps may not always appear in the list of apps available on the webcam and Microphone settings pages or might still be able to access your webcam or microphone even when these settings are turned off. Find out why