Webcams, whether built-in or connected via USB, are essential in our digital world. In Windows 10, some apps, such as Skype, need access to the camera to function properly. You can also use your webcam to record videos and take pictures.
But what if you notice that the light next to your webcam is on while you aren’t using it? Could it be that hackers are spying on you and recording footage without your knowledge? Some hackers even inject malware that hijacks your webcam, disabling the LED light. If you feel uneasy, you can hastily cover the webcam with a piece of tape or a sticky note.
However, what if you want to use your camera for Skype video calls or other purposes? Keep reading to find out how to see what applications are using the webcam. Windows 10 makes this process easy, and you can also control which apps can access your camera.
How to Tell Which Application Is Using a Windows 10 PC’s Webcam
To find out what app is currently using your webcam, follow these steps:
- Hit the Win+X key combination, and open “Settings”.
- Go to Privacy > Camera. If you scroll down, you’ll see two lists: one includes traditional desktop apps, while the other one includes Microsoft Store apps.
- Any app that currently has access to your camera will have the text “Currently in use” under that application.
- To tell which applications have been using your Windows 10 webcam, check if you’ll see a gray text under an app with the words “Last accessed” and a specific time and date shown.
- If you don’t see any of the above texts under your applications, then it means none of your apps have been accessing your webcam since you installed the May 2019 Update or you’re yet to install the May 2019 Update.
How to Control Which Apps Can Access a Webcam in Windows 10
Important note: You can only manage UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps or modern apps downloaded from the Store. Traditional Desktop apps will still have access to your webcam without appearing in the list under “Camera”. For this case, it might be safer to cover the camera or disable it completely.
To configure these settings:
- Access the “Camera” via the “Settings” app.
- Check if the text under “Allow access to the camera on this device” says “Camera access for this device is on”. If it says “Off”, click on the “Change” button and set it to “On”. This option also turns on the “Allow apps to access your camera” option. In an older Windows version, click on the toggle button under the “Let apps use my camera” option.
- Under the “Choose which Microsoft Store apps can access your camera” section, you can give or deny individual apps access to your webcam. However, this only stops an app from directly accessing the camera. According to Microsoft, an app can still access your camera indirectly, and to completely block it, you need to click on the “Change” button under the “Camera access for this device is on” option and switch it off.
- Microsoft provides further directions as follows:
- If you turn on Windows Hello, it will use your camera to sign you in even if “Let apps use my camera” is turned off.
- Even if you turn the camera off for each app under “Choose apps that can use your camera”, some of the listed apps might still be able to open the camera to let you take pictures or videos. But the camera won’t capture images or video unless you explicitly select the Photo or Video button.
- Alternatively, you can disable your camera device in the “Device Manager”. To do so, press the Win+X shortcut, and select “Device Manager”.
- Expand “Imaging devices”, and right-click on your camera device and select “Disable device”. The camera remains disabled until you re-enable it again in “Device Manager”.
How to Enable or Disable “Let Windows apps access the camera”
You can configure these settings using the Group Policy Editor. Here are the instructions:
- To launch the Group Policy Editor, open the “Run” box by pressing the Windows Key and R combination and type in gpedit.msc.
- Open this path:
- Computer\ Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\App Privacy
- Find the “Let Windows apps access this camera” setting and double-click it.
- Choose “Enabled”, and then select “User is in control”.
- To prevent Windows apps from accessing your device’s camera, choose “Disabled”.
In Windows 10, using a camera is necessary for some apps to work correctly. It’s therefore not advisable to disable the “Allow apps to access your camera” option.
Concerned? Perform a Malware Scan
If the light still turns on occasionally even after denying apps access to your webcam, your system could be infected. These days, hackers are using Remote Access Technology (RAT) to hijack and control your webcam without your knowledge. They can then record everything that you do and use it against you.
You don’t want to risk your system being compromised, and keeping your guard up is important. We recommend shielding yourself from such security vulnerabilities by installing Auslogics Anti-Malware. This is an advanced tool that not only inspects your entire system for malicious items but also blocks any suspicious files or apps from creeping into your system. Seeing as it may not be always possible to completely disable your camera in Windows 10, Auslogics Anti-Malware is the next best program that will give you total peace of mind.
Webcam spying is real. Don’t be a victim, protect yourself.
We hope by now you know how to see what applications are using your webcam and how to manage them on your Windows 10 device. Share your questions, comments or compliments with our community via the comments section.