If you use your webcam frequently for online meetings and classes, you may have experienced different issues with it.
These issues could range from the computer not detecting the webcam to getting a black screen.
One of them, which can be unsettling, is that the camera light doesn’t turn off even when you’re not using the webcam.
Occasionally, it may be blinking or turning on for a few minutes and then turning off on its own.
You may wonder if this is a serious issue or if there’s nothing to worry about.
Why Is My Webcam Light On? (Causes, Fixes)
Whenever your webcam light is on, it indicates that it’s in use.
If you’re not using the webcam, but the light is on, it can show that another app is using it.
You should identify that app and cut its access to the webcam.
Another reason could be malware infection or hackers that access your webcam to spy on your activities.
In such cases, you need to run a thorough scan of your system and make sure it’s protected.
The webcam light is a way to show you it’s in use.
If your webcam light is on, but you’re not using it, an app or process is using it in the background.
Specific programs, particularly video conferencing apps like Skype, have access to your webcam and can turn it on and off when you open them.
They can even record videos while you’re on your computer without any warning or signs.
Even if these aren’t the underlying cause, legitimate programs that have access to the webcam may regularly check if they can still connect to and turn on the camera or not.
How To Fix
The easiest fix to this issue is to find out which apps access your webcam and disable this access.
You can find this out in different ways.
A. Reconfigure Startup Programs
If you see this issue only at startup, it may not be serious.
That’s because your OS performs some operations upon startup that may initialize the hardware temporarily.
When the system boots up completely, the hardware will turn off.
Some programs start in the bootup process, and if one of these programs controls your webcam, the webcam light will flash.
You can reconfigure the startup command and prevent your system from enabling webcam drivers at startup.
To do so, type msconfig in the search bar and hit Enter.
Go to the startup tab and look at the programs that open upon startup.
If any of them accesses the webcam, disable it and see if it helps.
If you can’t find any program in this way, you can use the Task Manager.
You should see which programs launch at startup by checking the Startup tab and disabling all of them.
Now, check if the light comes on.
If it doesn’t, you can be certain that one of these programs is the culprit.
Enable each program and see which one causes the light to turn back on.
B. Privacy Settings
You can also check which apps use your camera through your privacy settings.
Go to Settings > Privacy > Camera.
There are two sets of apps that can access your webcam, desktop apps (traditional Windows apps) and Microsoft Store apps.
You can disable both of these groups’ access to your camera.
However, you have more control over the Microsoft Store apps since you can turn off each app’s access separately.
On the other hand, the desktop apps only have one toggle to turn off the access, and Windows says that some of these apps may still have access to your camera after turning off the feature.
You can find a list of all programs that can access your webcam under Choose which Microsoft Store apps can access your camera.
It includes all the apps currently using your webcam and those that have used it in the past.
If they’ve used it before, you can see the last time they accessed your camera below the app’s name.
Otherwise, the app has never used your webcam.
Turn off each app’s access to your webcam one by one and see if it turns off the webcam light.
C. Third-Party Apps
There’s another way to help you detect which programs access your webcam via Process Explorer.
It’s a free app by Microsoft that allows you to see what permissions an app has or what files or directories it opens.
After downloading the program, go to Device Manager and double-click on your webcam.
Click Properties and go to the Details tab.
Expand the Device Description menu and click on Physical Device Object Name.
Copy the words under Value.
Now, launch the Process Explorer program and open its search box by pressing Ctrl + f.
Paste the text you copied from camera properties and click Search.
The tool starts searching for the programs and processes running currently and using your camera.
After detecting the program, you can right-click it and end it by selecting Kill Process.
Alternatively, you could disable access to the webcam via the program’s settings.
If the program isn’t a legitimately installed app, it must be malware, and you need to run your antivirus.
2. Browser Sessions
In addition to applications, some websites can also access your webcam.
These websites need access to our webcams to make video calls.
You may also use these apps to make video calls, so simply closing the browser tab can help you solve the issue.
If you don’t have any tabs open, a certain website may have gained permission to access your webcam and use it without you knowing it.
How To Fix
The easy fix to this issue is to block websites from accessing your webcam via your browser settings.
Different browsers have different settings to disable this access.
Here’s what to do on each of these browsers:
A. Google Chrome
After launching Google Chrome, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner and select Settings.
On the left panel, select Privacy and security and click on Site Settings.
Expand the menu under Camera and select Don’t allow sites to use your camera.
To block websites from accessing your camera on Firefox on Windows 10/11:
After opening Firefox, click on the three horizontal bars in the upper right corner and go to Settings.
Click on the Privacy and Security tab and scroll down to Permissions.
Find Camera under Permissions, check Block new requests asking to access your camera option, and click on the Save Changes to enable it.
C. Microsoft Edge
Launch the Microsoft Edge browser and click on the three horizontal dots in the upper right corner.
Scroll down to Settings and open the Settings window.
Click on the three horizontal bars in the upper left corner and select Cookies and site permissions.
Expand the menu under Camera and turn off Ask before accessing.
This way, you’ll block all websites from accessing your camera.
If you have a specific website in mind that you want to block from accessing your camera, you can follow these steps:
Open the intended website in Edge and click on the lock icon next to the website’s URL.
Look at the Permissions option and see what option is enabled for Camera.
If it’s not “Blocked,” expand the menu in front of the camera and select it.
3. Malware Infection
If you’re sure none of the installed programs on your device is using your camera, the chances are high that hackers are using your webcam to record your activity.
Remote access tools (RAT), phishing techniques, and different malware can allow hackers to gain backdoor access to your hardware, including your webcam, and spy on you to gather your private information.
If you’ve used a website with an online chat feature, there’s a high chance that hackers can find their way to your webcam through that feature.
Although it’s not super easy for cybercriminals to access your webcam, it’s a prevalent cybercrime, and you should always be cautious.
Some of these viruses can even use your webcam without turning on the webcam light.
How To Fix
The best way to stay protected against malware infection and criminal activity is to prevent these harmful entities by practicing cyber hygiene.
Never click on fishy links or download anything from unsecured sources.
In addition, you should have a powerful anti-malware and anti-spyware tool installed on your computer.
Although Windows has a built-in antivirus tool, it’s better to use a third-party app to enhance your protection and ensure no malware can enter your system.
4. Driver Issues
If you’re sure that no suspicious activity is going on and all the apps are blocked from accessing your webcam, the root cause could be a simple driver issue.
An outdated webcam driver may be causing glitches that turn on the webcam light, although it’s not in use.
That’s particularly the case if the light is blinking rather than a solid light.
The malfunctioning driver causes the webcam to reset repeatedly.
How To Fix
The fix to an outdated driver is simple.
All you need to do is update the driver and see if it turns off the webcam light.
Go to Device Manager and click on Cameras.
Right-click your webcam and select Update driver.
Click Search automatically for drivers to get Windows to search online and install new drivers.
5. General Troubleshooting Solutions
If none of the above methods work, you could go through general troubleshooting methods and see if they help.
That’s because the issue may not be a serious one, such as hacking, and could be a harmless glitch.
Here’s what to do:
A. Install Windows Updates
Microsoft tries to address glitches and bugs and improve security via its periodic updates.
Windows always notifies you when a new update is available.
If you want to be 100% certain you have the latest updates, you can check for them manually.
Press Win + I together to open the Settings app.
Click Update and Security, and choose Windows Update from the left panel.
If you have the latest updates installed, the message says, “You’re up to date.”
However, you can still click on the Check for updates button to see if there are any new updates.
In addition, you can click on View optional updates and check the updates that might apply to your current situation and solve your issue.
B. Run The Troubleshooter
Windows 11 has a reliable troubleshooter that helps you solve minor issues by scanning your system.
It also has a specific troubleshooting tool for webcams and cameras, which you can try if nothing has worked.
To run the troubleshooter:
Type Troubleshoot in Cortana’s search box and press Enter.
In the Troubleshooter window, click on Additional Troubleshooters and find Camera under Other.
Click on the Run button to start the troubleshooting process.
C. Reinstall The Webcam
Uninstalling and reinstalling the camera is another option that can reset the device and help with the issue.
You can uninstall the device via Device Manager, whether it’s integrated or external.
Go to Device Manager and click on Camera to find your installed webcam.
Right-click on it and select Uninstall Device.
Follow the on-screen prompts to finish the process.
Now, restart the computer and connect the webcam to it.
Windows should automatically detect it and install it again.
Then, you should reinstall any software that comes with your webcam.
D. Check Your Bluetooth Connection
This solution doesn’t apply to an integrated webcam or one connected via a USB cable.
If you’ve connected your webcam via Bluetooth, the connection may get interrupted repeatedly, and you can see the light coming on and off when Windows or apps try to make sure they’re connected to the webcam.
You can easily access your Bluetooth settings via the Windows Action Center on the bottom right corner of the taskbar.
Click on the Bluetooth tile and see if your webcam is currently connected.
You could unpair the device, pair it again, and see if it helps.
How To Improve Webcam Security
Just like any piece of hardware, webcams can be attacked by hackers to access your information.
While you can follow the steps mentioned above to prevent apps and websites from accessing your webcam, you could take extra measures to boost your security.
However, if you use your webcam regularly, you may need to choose which options on better for your conditions.
1. Disconnect Your Webcam Physically
External webcams allow you to use them only when you need them.
Since they’re connected to your computer via a USB cable, whenever you don’t need your webcam, you can unplug it.
However, if you’re using a laptop with a built-in camera, you may need to try other ways to boost your privacy.
One of the best ways to physically disable an integrated webcam is to cover it.
You can use duct tape, post-it notes, or any kind of tape with low tack.
Just make sure the tape doesn’t leave a sticky residue after removing, so you may want to stay away from foam tape.
One of the best options is a webcam cover available online.
This way, you can simply cover your webcam whenever you don’t need it and remove it without leaving any residue.
They come in different sizes and designs, including sliding and sticking options.
They’re also inconspicuous, and you don’t need to worry about changing the appearance of your laptop.
2. Disable Your Webcam
If you don’t use your webcam too often, you can disable it in your operating system.
To disable the webcam via Device Manager, right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager.
Click on Cameras and right-click on your webcam.
Click on Disable device and select Yes.
You can reenable your webcam anytime you want, simply by going through the same process and selecting Enable.
Alternatively, you can disable your webcam via the BIOS settings if your manufacturer has given you this option.
However, note that disabling your webcam via BIOS will remove it from Device Manager, so you’ll need to reenable it via BIOS.
In addition, if your webcam and mic are connected via the same expansion slot, you’ll disable your microphone, too.
To enter the BIOS menu, restart your computer and press the preset key specified by the manufacturer.
It could be Del, ESC, or F12.
You will need to search your specific brand and look for its BIOS key.
After entering the BIOS menu, scroll through the list of all hardware in your computer and find your webcam.
It may not exactly say “webcam,” but you should look for something containing the word “cam.”
After finding the webcam, click on it and select Disable or Unlock.
However, as mentioned, you may not have the option to disable your webcam via the BIOS settings, so you should consult the user manual to see how it’s done.