Windows 10 camera, microphone, and privacy

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

Some people worry about unknown apps, organizations, or malware using their camera or microphone. 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 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 or microphone 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 or Microphone settings pages.

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

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Camera.
  2. Choose your preferred setting for Let apps use my camera hardware.
  3. Under Choose apps that can use your camera, turn on or off the individual settings for apps and services.

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.

How to control which apps can use the microphone

  1. Go to Start , then select Settings > Privacy > Microphone.
  2. Choose your preferred setting for Let apps use my microphone.
  3. Under Choose apps that can use your microphone, turn on or off the individual settings for apps and services.

How to allow a website to use your camera or microphone while browsing in Microsoft Edge

You can use your camera and microphone for websites in Microsoft Edge. However, even when your camera and microphone are enabled for Microsoft Edge, you will still need to give individual websites permission before they can use your camera and microphone. Here’s how:

  1. Go to a website that wants to use your microphone and/or camera.
  2. If a dialog box appears asking if you want to give the website permission to use your camera or microphone, select Allow once or Always allow, or close the dialog box to block access.

How to stop a website from using your camera or microphone in Microsoft Edge

  1. In Microsoft Edge, select Settings and more  and then select Settings.
  2. Under Advanced settings, select View advanced settings.
  3. Under Website permissions, select Manage.
  4. Select the website you want to manage.
  5. Under Camera or Microphone, turn the switch to Off to disable access for that website.

Note

Some websites might not work if you choose to block them from accessing your camera or microphone. For example, you might not be able to join a video conference.

Exceptions to the camera and microphone privacy settings

If you turn on Windows Hello, it will use your camera to sign you in even if Let apps use my camera hardware 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.)

Desktop apps won’t appear in your Choose apps that can use your camera or Choose apps that can use your microphone lists and are not affected by the Let apps use my camera hardware or Let apps use my microphone setting. To allow or block desktop apps, use the settings in those applications.

Note

How can you tell if an app is a desktop app? Desktop apps are usually downloaded from the Internet or installed with some type of media (such as a CD, DVD, or USB storage device). They’re launched using an .EXE or .DLL file, and they typically run on your device unlike web-based apps (which run in the cloud). You can also find desktop apps in Microsoft Store.