There could be many reasons you’d want to disable the webcam on a laptop, PC or Mac. With cyber security being such a hot topic, knowing how to turn off your webcam is vital for your peace of mind.
Obviously, if you have an external USB webcam then the solution is very simple indeed. When you’re not using the device just unplug it from your PC and that will remove any possibility of hackers watching or listening to you. And if you happen to have a Huawei Matebook, it may well have a webcam that pops up from the keyboard and is disabled when you pop it back down.
But if your camera can't be unplugged or easily hidden, read on.
How to disable your webcam in Windows 10 and Windows 7
If you don’t use your webcam very often then a good option is to disable it entirely through the Windows Device Manager, which will also disable the microphone. To do this go to the Start Menu and search for device manager, then select the option that relates to Control Panel.
In the menu that appears you’ll find a heading for Imaging Device, click on this and you should see your integrated webcam listed. To disable it right-click and then you can select the Disable option, or for a more thorough solution click on Uninstall.
While this is a decent fix, it should be noted that hackers with the right kind of remote access could potentially re-enable the webcam. It would take more work than your casual peeping Tom is likely to bother with, but it’s not a cast-iron fix. Also, if you do want to use your webcam you’ll have to install drivers and reverse the process above, which isn’t exactly practical. If this is the case then you might want to consider the next option.
How to disable your webcam using Parallels Toolbox
If you’re looking for a more intuitive and user-friendly solution to disabling your webcam then Parallels Toolbox can provide this in a much more accessible way for both PC and Mac.
This software comes with a whole host of features to make your life easier, disabling and enabling your webcam can be done in a few clicks.
Simply open up the software from your task bar at the bottom, click on the camera pane at the very top of the window that appears, and then click ‘block camera’ from the drop down menu.
This process can be seen below.
This particular feature comes as part of the Disk and System pack which contains other features to help speed up your computer's operation, while also bringing the features of your computer closer to your fingertips.
Stop people hacking your camera: Just cover it
As clever as some software can be these days, a simple and effective way to stop anyone hacking a webcam or any other camera is simply to cover it. That’s why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the current head of the FBI use the low-tech solution of sticking a piece of tape over the cameras on their laptops.
The advantage of this option is that you can easily remove the tape whenever you want to use the camera. Of course you don’t want to use strong adhesive types like gaffer / duct tape or packing tape as that could leave residue, but we’ve found that cutting the sticky end of a Post-It Note and placing it over the camera is an easy, cheap, and effective method. Electrical tape is another good option, and with the wide range of colours and patterns on offer you can even make an aesthetic feature out of your hacker-defying decoration.
One additional thing to address is the microphone on your PC, as this is usually linked to the camera. If you’re unsure of its location, search online for the model of your laptop for a manual so that you can identify which small opening is for the mic(s), then cover them with tape as well to avoid anyone eavesdropping on your conversations. Bear in mind that this will only muffle the sound, and it's best to disable or uninstall the webcam (and associated mic) as we've described above.
There are a number of ways that scurrilous people can monitor you online, and for extra security tips, read our guide on how to stay safe online.