How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

You’re sitting in front of your computer, minding your own business, when you suddenly notice the webcam light is on. Something is looking at you — maybe even recording or broadcasting online. But what? You don’t have Skype running, and you close the browser just to make sure. The light won’t go off! What’s using that webcam?

Here’s how to tell.

First Things First: Use A Sticker

Let’s start with a low-tech solution. If your camera is on and you have no idea why, it is possible someone’s watching you right now. So first, just cover the camera with a reusable sticker or a piece of cardboard. It may not be pretty, but it works.

laptop sticker   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

You can get a pack of purpose-built stickers for covering your webcam on Amazon, which you can peel and reapply again and again. Don’t wait for those stickers, though – for now, just cover your webcam with anything you have to hand, and proceed.

Download & Run Process Explorer

To figure out what’s using your webcam, we will need a free Windows utility called Process Explorer. It was developed by Microsoft and is also part of their Sysinternals Suite, a collection of tools for IT Professionals.

webcam0 procexp   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

You can download Process Explorer and install it, or you can run the application straight from the server – this will grab just the EXE file directly from Microsoft’s Sysinternals site, and is the quickest way to start Process Explorer.

Find The Camera’s Object Name

Now we need to find what your camera is called internally by your computer. Start Device Manager (Windows 7: search in Start menu; Windows 8.1: search in Charms bar), and find the webcam in the list:

webcam1 devman   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

Double-click the webcam, and go to the Details tab.

webcam2 devdesc   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

Open the Property drop-down and click Physical device object name, then right-click and copy its value:

webcam3 copy   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

Find The Process Using The Camera &Kill It

Now go to the Process Explorer window (or run Process Explorer if it isn’t open), and hit Ctrl+F. Paste in the physical device object name, and hit Enter. You should get something like this:

webcam4 find   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

In the screenshot above, it’s Skype, which means you can just exit Skype and there’s no reason to worry. But if it’s something nefarious, you’ll have to kill the process. Right-click the process in Process Explorer and click Kill Process.

webcam5 kill   How To Find What Program Is Using Your Webcam

You should see the camera LED blink out — there, now nobody’s watching you.

Uninstall The Offending App & Scan Your Computer

If this was an app you recognize and it really did start on its own, you might want to uninstall it. You can use the program removal feature built into Windows, or use the excellent Absolute Uninstaller, previously-reviewed Advanced Uninstaller Pro, or one of these three great uninstallers.

Finally, it is always a good idea to scan your computer for viruses and have a solid virus protection product installed. You can see our current recommendations in the Best Windows Software page.

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Suleiman

This is a serious top these days. Yesterday, a renowned news station in my city talked about webcam peeping problems and today you posted about it.
My question is that will this peeping can happen to our cellphone cams too?

Thanks for the posting, it was a great read with important infos.

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Maarten D

Didn’t think about that yet! Probably not possible with iPhones, but because Android is much more open, it is probably already happening!

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Morrison

Interesting article. Am a user of Sysinternals software, but didn’t know you could search by device name. CORRECTION however – Sysinternals was not developed by Microsoft. See (for example) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sysinternals#Winternals_Software_LP

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Erez Z

Sorry, did not mean to imply that was the case — i’ve been using Sysinternals software since before they were purchased by MS. Thanks for the link.

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Daniel E

Looks like a mash-up candidate

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wolf

I don’t suppose you have a similar article for Macs?

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robin waazenegger

got a penny dangled over my laptops camera

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Mickji

The removable sticker idea is good, but there is another problem with webcams…the mic. If someone can see you, they also can hear you and the same happens with your desktop. I have an antivirus and don’t download any weird thing that I see around, the checking haven’t showed any virus, and the scan shows sometimes numbers instead of a program name. To kill the process using the webcam every single time seems to not be sufficient in my case..

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