Built-in cameras, or webcams, are now becoming more and more common in modern computers. Even if a computer does not have a built-in camera, many people have opted to attach an external webcam just to attend online meetings, stream, or host shows.
There is usually a tiny LED right next to the built-in camera on your laptop, which turns on to let you know when an app or program is accessing the camera, and that you are being observed. That being the norm, not all devices come with a built-in LED indicator. Therefore, you have no method to tell when you are being spied on.
Thankfully, the Windows 11 operating system comes with a hidden feature that you can enable that will let you know when the camera is being used, and when it is turned off. If your computer’s LED is broken, not working, or missing, you can just enable the hidden privacy indicator to inform you of when the camera is being accessed.
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Enable Camera Usage Notification on Windows
If your computer has a built-in camera, there are chances that it may also have an LED indicator embedded just beside the camera. This LED turns on when the camera is being accessed, and looks something like this:
If you do not find an LED, you can get a notification on your Windows 11 computer when your webcam is being accessed by an app or a program. Here is how:
Note: The process involves making manual changes to the Windows Registry. Misconfiguration of critical values in the system’s registry could be fatal for your operating system. Therefore, we insist that you create a system restore point before proceeding forward with the process.
You can also use our top selection of disk imaging and backup software so you never lose your data or operating system again.
Open the Registry Editor by typing in “regedit” in the Run Command box.
Navigate to the following from the left pane:
You can also copy-paste the path into the navigation bar for quick access.
Double-click the “NoPhysicalCameraLED” DWORD and change its Value Data to 1.
Close the Registry Editor and restart the computer.
Once the computer restarts, you will see a “Camera on” notification at the top of the taskbar when an app accesses the webcam.
When the camera is no longer in use, you will see a “Camera off” prompt.
Now, even when you do not have an embedded LED indicator for your camera’s privacy, you will still know when it is being used.
In case you want to disable the hidden camera privacy indicator, change the Value Data for “NoPhysicalCameraLED” back to “0“.
How to Disable Camera on Windows 11
If you are skeptical about your webcam invading your privacy, you can also disable it permanently (until manually enabled). You can opt to disable the camera if your computer has one but you have no use for it.
There are two ways to disable the webcam.
Disable Camera from Windows Settings
From the Settings app, you can deny all apps and programs permission to access the camera. This will disable the camera unless you allow permissions to all or specific apps.
Note: The camera could still be used during the login process if Windows Hello requires it.
Go to the following:
Settings app >> Privacy & security >> Camera
Here, toggle the slider in front of “Camera access” into the Off position.
Now, no apps will be allowed to access the camera, whether they are already installed on your computer, or will be installed later.
If an app attempts to access the camera while the access is disabled, you will see a message as such in this image:
If you need to enable access to the camera in the future, all you need to do is toggle the slider in front of “Camera access” into the On position.
Disable Camera from Device Manager
You can also disable the camera from the Device Manager. Here is how:
Open the Device Manager by typing in “devmgmt.msc” in the Run Command box.
Click “Cameras” to expand it, right-click on the webcam, and then click “Disable device.”
Now, the webcam will be disabled and unrecognized by the computer. If you attempt to access the webcam through software, you will see a prompt such as the following:
As you can see from the message, the webcam is undetected on the PC.
If you want to re-enable the webcam in the future, all you need to do is enable the camera from the Device Manager.
Check Which App is using Camera
When the camera is being used by an application, it initiates an access request. These requests are logged in, which you can check from the settings app.
To check which apps have recently accessed the device’s camera, go to the following:
Settings app >> Privacy & security >> Camera >> Recent Activity
Here, you will find a list of all the apps, including the date and time, that they accessed the webcam.
Knowing when your device’s camera is activated is always a plus point. Regardless of what device you are using, may it be a phone, a tablet, or a computer, there should always be an indicator to let you know when your webcam has been activated.
Webcams have now made their way into people’s bedrooms, let alone their homes. From Vlogging to security purposes; webcams are now an essential part of many people’s lives. However, it does not mean that you must compromise your privacy.
If you have a Windows computer in your home, with an embedded or external webcam, we suggest that you enable the hidden camera indicator today so you are always aware when you are being watched.