I’m anxious that programs on my Windows 10 system are accessing my camera without me knowing. How can I find out what apps have permission to access my camera in Windows 10, and how can I disable them, as needed?
You’re right to be suspicious: from what I have read, there are a number of known exploits that let hackers gain some level of control over your built-in webcam or camera, often without even having the “active” light illuminated. 95% of the time it might be completely irrelevant and just hours of you staring at your screen with no expression at all (at least, that’s what someone watching my laptop camera would see), but the 5% of the time you forget your computer’s running across the room and change outfits, have a shower or share a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend or family member? Not good. At all.
If you are running good anti-malware software and keep it updated, odds are good that you’re safe from the most nefarious of the bad software. Just don’t bring your computer into the bathroom every time you shower (which is good advice anyway, right? 🙂 ). So the basic is to know how to get to the privacy settings for your camera and know what apps on your Microsoft Windows 10 system have permission to tap into it, then learn how to disable it too.
And yet, there’s a curious problem with getting to this particular setting through Win10 search, which is almost always a great path forward. Here’s what I mean:
A search for “camera” seems reasonable. But no luck.
Okay, so how about “camera privacy“?
That’s not much better either. Which is weird, as Cortana should definitely know “camera” as a synonym for “webcam” on a computer, wouldn’t you think?
So, instead, search for “webcam” or just “privacy” and you’ll get the result you need:
There we go. Finally. “Webcam privacy settings“.
Click on it or tap on it to proceed.
There’s everything you need to know. The top control lets you completely disable all camera / webcam access for every app on your Windows 10 system, or you can selectively pick and choose on the lower area so that, for example, you could leave Skype enabled for your video conferences, while disabling everything else. It is a bit hard to understand on my system, for example, why MSN Food & Drink needs access to my Webcam.
While you’re here, by the way, also click on “Microphone” on the left and make sure there are no surprises there too:
That’s it. And if you’re still anxious, a bit of tape over the camera lens itself is a surefire way to disable malicious software watching you through the camera or webcam. 🙂