Windows 10 camera and privacy

In Windows 10, having a camera as part of your device or system lets you make Skype video calls, take pictures, etc. Many apps and services request and use the camera, and Windows settings give you control over which apps can use your camera.

Some people worry about unknown apps, organizations, or malware using their camera. Whenever your camera is used, you should be in charge. That’s why you’re always told when your camera is turned on:

  • If your device or camera comes with a camera light, the light will turn on when the camera is in use.
  • If your system doesn’t have a camera light, you’ll get a notification to let you know when the camera turns on or off.

We also provide settings to keep you in control, described below.

Camera 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 settings page.

Three types of cameras

There are three types of cameras that apps and services may have access to, depending on what type of cameras come with or are installed on your device:

  • A color camera is used for taking traditional color photos or videos.
  • An infrared camera takes a gray scale (black and white) photo or video based on infrared intensity.
  • A depth camera can see the shapes of items in front of it, and how far they are from the device. For example, a depth camera can be used to recognize when a person is in front of the device.

How to control which apps can use the camera

In general, to allow or block specific apps and services:

  1. Go to Start windows logo , then select Settings > Privacy > Camera.
  2. Make sure Let apps use my camera is turned on.
  3. Under Choose apps that can use your camera, turn individual apps and services settings on or off.

Note

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.

To block most apps from using the camera:

  1. Go to Start windows logo , then select Settings > Privacy > Camera.
  2. Turn off Let apps use my camera. This will turn off the camera for your account on that device while still letting other people use the camera when they’re signed in with their own accounts.

Exceptions to the camera privacy settings

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. If Windows Hello is turned off, it can’t access your camera. (Windows Hello, part of Windows 10, is a new way to sign in to your devices, apps, online services, and networks.)

Classic Windows applications won’t appear in your Choose apps that can use your camera list and are not affected by the Let apps use my camera setting. To allow or block Classic Windows applications, use the settings in those applications.

Note

How can you tell if an app is a Classic Windows application? You’d usually install one by downloading it from the Internet or with some type of media (such as a CD, DVD, or USB storage device). You’d launch one using an .EXE or .DLL file. They're typically desktop apps (which run on your device) rather than web-based apps (which run in the cloud). You can also find Classic Windows applications in the Windows Store.