How to Disable Your Computer's Camera in Windows 7

Block software from using your computer's built-in camera

Webcam on computer monitor
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Most laptops come with built-in cameras, which applications and websites can activate on their own if users give the appropriate permissions. If privacy is a concern, however, you might want to disable the integrated webcam altogether on your computer—for instance, if you want to prevent malware from taking control of the camera to spy on you and your home.

If you're a parent, you have still more reasons for wanting to disable the webcam, all of them having to do with your kids' safety. For example, instant messaging and interactive websites that use laptop cameras aren’t always child-friendly or appropriate, and you might decide that disabling your webcam is the best way to protect your children and their identities.

If you have an external webcam, disabling it is extremely simple: Just unplug the USB cord that connects the camera to the computer (and if you're a parent, put the camera in a secure place where your child won’t find it).

Disabling an integrated webcam isn't that much more involved and will take only a few minutes. The directions below apply to Windows 7.

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Getting Started

How to disable your computer's camera in Windows 7
Lisa Johnston

Go to the Start menu on your desktop and click on Control Panel. Click on Hardware and Sound.

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Locate Your Webcam

How to disable your computer's camera in Windows 7
Lisa Johnston

Click on Device Manager. From the next screen, select Imaging Devices and select your webcam from the list by double-clicking on it. 

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Disable Your Webcam

How to disable your computer's camera in Windows 7
Lisa Johnston

Click on the Driver tab and select Disable to disable the webcam.

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Confirmation

How to disable your computer's camera in Windows 7
Lisa Johnston

Click Yes when asked if you really want to disable your webcam.

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Turning Your Webcam Back On

To re-enable the camera, simply click on Enable in the same window where you disabled it.