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Can You Disable an Integrated Webcam on Windows?

If you are concerned about privacy, you may have already worried about your computer’s integrated webcam, including your laptop camera and external webcam (more on the differences between them in our guide). With non-integrated webcams, you can easily disconnect them, but what about ones you can’t disconnect? While manufacturers promise no wrongdoing can take place, you may feel better just disabling your webcam. Fortunately, you can easily do this if you’re a Windows user.

If you have a windows machine, you can quickly disable your webcam. This can be done using a variety of methods, however, the easiest way is using Windows device manager. If concerns still exist, you can always opt to use a physical covering for your webcam, like a sticker or cover.

With our world becoming so quickly interconnected, it may seem hard to carve out some privacy for yourself and your family. While webcams offer us the ability to talk face-to-face with people worldwide, they can also be an unwanted feature in your daily life. If security concerns are on the top of your mind, read on to find out how you can deal with disabling an integrated webcam in Windows.

How To Disable Your Webcam on Windows in 4 Steps

Camera privacy cover slide for laptop with a green screen

Windows is one of the most popular OSs on the market. While other platforms like OSX have taken a sizable market share in recent years, Windows is still used more overall. But with advances in technology come new norms. One of these new normals is computers always having access to a video feed through integrated webcams.

While most systems are secure and most users can use their computers without spying, risks still exist. Whether it is nefarious hackers or other bad actors, keeping your home or office private is a genuine concern among computer users. This is why a lot of people are opting to disable their webcams. Disabling your integrated webcam does a few things for you, including allowing for some peace of mind when it comes to privacy; it permits you to control when your webcam is on more directly, and it’s also a great tool to use when dealing with sensitive information.

There are tons of reasons why you might want to disable your webcam. Sometimes all you are looking for is another layer of privacy in our fastly growing public world. The good news is that Windows has made it fairly easy to disable your integrated webcam through the OS. This can be done in several ways and can vary depending on the version of windows you are using. Here are a few walkthroughs to help you on your journey.

Disabling Your Webcam in Windows 10 or Windows 8

If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 8, you can easily disable your webcam using the device manager. Accessing this feature in Windows is fairly straightforward, and even the non-tech-savvy can handle the task quickly and easily. To disable your Webcam using Device Manager, just follow the steps shown here:

  1. Find the Windows start button and right-click it. Once the next menu pops up, select Device Manager.
  2. Once the Device Manager has opened, you should see an arrow that allows you to open a category called Imaging Devices.
  3. Now, right-click your webcam’s name and select Disable Device.
  4. You will be prompted to confirm your choice, click yes, and your webcam should now be disabled.

This is by and large the most convenient and easy way to go about this task. But, there are other ways to accomplish disabling your webcam. You might want only to allow some applications to use your webcam. If this is the case, you will need to disable the webcam for selected services. To disable your webcam for only select applications, follow these steps:

  1. Find the Setting icon. It should be located in the Start menu and has a gear-shaped symbol.
  2. Next, select Privacy.
  3. You should now see a camera section. Once you do, toggle the slide bar under Allow apps to access the camera
  4. Find the apps you want to allow or block and slide the toggle bar accordingly.

This option is perfect for parents looking to control which application their child can use the camera for. But if you are using an older version of Windows, can you still disable your integrated webcam? Thankfully, there is a way to go about doing this and we show you how to do that down below.

Disabling Your Webcam in Windows 7

If you are still using this older version of Windows, never fret! There is still a way to disable your webcam. It involves going into the settings and the device manager. To disable your webcam in Windows 7:

  1. From the Start menu, find the Control panel.
  2. Next, you should see a menu on the left-hand side of the window. Find and select Hardware and Sound.
  3. From here, choose Device Manager.
  4. Find Imaging Devices and select it. You should see a list of webcams attached to your computer, find and click the one you want to disable. 
  5. Next, click the Driver tab and select Disable to stop the connection to the webcam.
  6. You will be prompted to confirm your choice, click Yes.

As you can see, it is a fairly straightforward process to disable an integrated webcam in any version of Windows. But, if you’re still concerned about your privacy, perhaps there is a more complete method?

How to Disable Your Webcam at the BIOS Level

If you want to make sure your webcam is disabled for good, your best bet is to use BIOS to disable it. What is BIOS? BIOS is short for “Basic Input/Output System.” It is the operating system found on the hardware of your computer that manages your computer’s components on a basic level. When you disable your webcam in BIOS, you essentially cut it off from being recognized by Windows.

Not all computers will give you access to BIOS. Some that cater to businesses with high institutional sales—like Dell or Lenovo—will allow users to access the BIOS to do things like disabling webcams for security’s sake. Keep in mind this is not necessarily an easy task to accomplish. You need to be comfortable with some higher-level computer knowledge to disable a webcam through BIOS:

  1. Reboot your computer.
  2. You will need to access your BIOS setting by clicking the correct button quickly. In most cases, this will be F2 on your keyboard.
  3. When in the BIOS settings, try finding an entry labeled “webcam,” “CMOS camera,” or “integrated webcam.”
  4. Most of the time, these devices will have a simple button or toggle option to turn off.
  5. Select the option that disconnects the webcam from the system.

Additionally, you should be aware that you may also disconnect the microphone when you disable the webcam. This is because most laptop cameras and microphones are on the same module on the expansion board. This is a benefit from a security standpoint, but you may want to try another method if you intend to use your microphone. 

Consider Simply Covering the Webcam

Web camera and Laptop

With all this talk about going into your computer’s settings, you may be curious if there is a more straightforward method. Getting into your computer’s BIOS is not for everyone.  If you are not so tech-savvy, there is an easy and elegant solution to this problem. 

If you have ever walked around the office and noticed stickers on everyone’s webcam, you now know why. This is a way you can cover your webcam to ensure that no one can see what you’re doing. Let’s face it; sometimes, you just want to use your webcam. If you opt to disable it in your software, that means having to re-enable it every time you need it. It’s not hard to imagine how this can get annoying.

Additionally, if you have opted for the BIOS method, you’ll need to restart your computer each time. But, there is a low-tech and straightforward method you can use. Just cover your webcam up. There are a few ways of covering up your webcam, including with a bandage, with a post-it, or with a piece of paper and some tape.

However, you might be looking for a more elegant solution. If you are in a work office setting, you don’t want people noticing your webcam is covered up with a band-aid unless you really don’t care about looking professional. Fortunately, there are a couple of great options for you. The first is the Blocked Low Tack Reusable Stickers (on Amazon). These stickers offer a super small form factor that will just cover the lens.

If you have an external webcam and want to block your lens, the Lens Shutter Cover (on Amazon) is a great choice. These are some great low-tech ways to block your webcam. But the webcam is just one part of the equation? What about your microphone?

Disabling a Microphone 

Much like disabling a webcam on Windows, disabling a microphone is a relatively straightforward process.  To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Find and select the Setting tab in the Start Menu.
  2. Find System
  3. Next, click on Sound
  4. From here, you should now see an Input section. Find your microphone and select the Device properties icon.
  5. Check the Disable option.

Once you have moved through these steps, your microphone should now be disabled from use. Keep in mind that if you use the BIOS method mentioned earlier, you may have already disabled your microphone. 

Wrapping Up

If you are worried about your webcam and security, you are not alone. While these devices open up communications possibilities, they also open up privacy risks. But, if you are worried about your webcam, then you have a few options to disable it. While the Device manager method is the easiest, using the BIOS method can be more secure. If all else fails, you can always keep a physical covering over your webcam.