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How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Chris Hoffman
How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcamChris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Webcams often include a light showing whether the webcam is in use or not. Windows doesn’t make it easy to check which application is actually using the webcam when the light comes on, but it’s possible to find out.

If you’re concerned about someone spying on you—and especially if you don’t use your webcam much—you may want to disable your webcam altogether. Webcam spying is a very real thing, and you can never be too careful.

But if it does turn on, you’ll want to know which app is using it. You’ll need Microsoft’s free Process Explorer tool to do this. As part of the line of Sysinternals tools, it’s a much more advanced application with powerful features that aren’t available in the normal Windows Task Manager.

First: Find Your Webcam’s Device Name

First, you’ll need to find your webcam’s device object name. This information is available in the Device Manager.

To launch the Device Manager on Windows 8 or 10, right-click the Start button and select “Device Manager”. On Windows 7, press Windows+R, type “devmgmt.msc” into the Run dialog box, and press Enter.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Locate your webcam in the list of devices connected to your computer. You’ll likely find it under the “Imaging Devices” category. Right-click it and select “Properties”.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Click the “Details” tab to view more details about the hardware. Click the “Property” box and select “Physical Device Object Name” in the list.

Right-click the device object name displayed in the Value box and select “Copy” to copy it to your clipboard.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Identify Which Processes Is Using the Webcam

You’ll now need to launch the Process Explorer application you downloaded from Microsoft.

In the Process Explorer window, press Ctrl+F or go to Find > Find Handle or DLL.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Right-click inside the “Handle or DLL Substring” box and select “Paste” to paste the device object name you copied from the Device Manager.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Click the “Search” button. Process Explorer will search all your running processes and show you a list of all the processes currently using your webcam’s hardware.

This will only show you processes that are currently using the webcam when you perform the search. If a process was using the webcam five seconds ago but wasn’t using the webcam when you performed the search, it won’t appear in the list.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

If you need to see more information about a process, locate it in the list of running processes, right-click it, and select “Properties”. Here, we can see that the CameraHelperShell.exe using our webcam is part of Logitech’s webcam software. You may need to perform an online search for the process name if you’re not sure what it is.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

If you’re not sure what the process is and it looks suspicious, you can right-click it in this list and click “Kill Process” to temporarily stop it from running.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

However, if your computer is infected with malware, you’ll need to remove the malware from your computer to stop it for good.

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How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »

Windows 10’s May 2019 feature update delivered a significant improvement to the webcam settings page. Windows now gives you more privacy by letting you see which apps are using your camera. If your webcam indicator lights up unexpectedly, you should be able to quickly identify the culprit.

The list of apps resides within Windows’ existing Camera Privacy settings page. To find it, open the Settings app from the Start menu (or use the Win+I keyboard shortcut). From the Settings homepage, click the “Privacy” tile and then the “Camera” page in the left navigation menu.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

The page is divided into two sections: Microsoft Store apps and desktop apps. More control is available for Microsoft Store apps, as these can only access your camera through well-defined interfaces that are guarded by Windows permissions. You can prevent individual Store apps from accessing your camera by using the toggle buttons on the page.

Below each app’s name, you’ll see the time that it last used your camera. If an app is listed but no time is displayed, it can access your camera but has not yet done so. Apps which are currently using your camera will display “Currently using” in bright yellow text.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

The desktop apps section works in a similar way, except you can’t prevent desktop apps (traditional Windows programs) from using your camera. The list displays all programs which are known to have used your camera in the past. It will also display “Currently using” to highlight apps which are actively streaming video.

Unfortunately, you can’t necessarily rely on the contents of this screen. By virtue of their nature, desktop apps are able to access your camera hardware directly, bypassing Windows’ regular APIs. This means that a malicious app could stream your camera feed without notifying Windows, so it won’t show up in the list. Generally, most respectable programs will appear here, but Microsoft’s own documentation warns of the possibility that some won’t.

I will explain a very effective method to find out what app is using your webcam. This way, you can stop it from being used without your permission, or simply close an app to free up your webcam to use in another application.

For some reason, Windows 10 struggles to let you use your webcam across multiple apps. In most cases, when webcams think they are being used by an app, they will light up and won’t be usable in other apps. So let’s take a look at how we can identify which app is using our webcam so that we can stop it.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

How to Find Your Webcam Process in an App to Stop it

To find our webcam, we’ll need to understand what the name is in the device manager. From there, we can search our running processes to find matches to our webcam.

To begin with, open your Start Menu and search for Device Manager. Click to open device manager when it appears. Search for the Imaging devices section and click to open the dropdown arrow.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Next, right click your webcam and click Properties. On the new window that appears, click Details. Next, click the Property drop-down box and search for Physical Device Object Name. Right click the listing that appears and click Copy. You can now close that window down.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

You now have your device name and you will be able to search your running processes to find out what application is using your webcam.

How to Use Process Manager to Find Which App is Using Your Webcam

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

For this step, you must download Process Explorer. It’s a program available here from Microsoft Sysinternals. Once you have downloaded the file, extract the Processexplorer.zip archive file.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Once extracted, navigate to the extracted folder and click to open procexp.exe. Click Agree when prompted. You should now see a complex process manager, similar to what you see on Task Manager. Click Find and then Find Handle or DLL.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Copy your device name into the Handle or DLL substring box and then click Search. It may take some time for the results to populate. You will now see the list of applications currently using your webcam.

If you cannot understand what each of the apps are, click on them in the search results page and you will notice that they will be highlighted in gray on the main window for Process Explorer. If it’s an app you recognize, you can close it down and webcam access from that app will stop.

At that point, you should now be free to use your webcam in another app without hitting any problems. If you are still having issues, it may be another unrelated problem. For example, an issue with the software itself. Or perhaps there is an option in the settings menu for that software to change your default webcam.

If you do not recognize the program in the search results, a quick search on Google should return some accurate results. In some cases, it may just be some kind of software necessary for your webcam. It’s unlikely, but it could be malware that is using your webcam.

In this case, you can click on it to highlight it in Process Explorer. Then, right click it in the main window and click Kill Process. After that, you should follow our guide to check and completely remove malware from your Windows PC.

Summary

I hope that this guide has helped to teach you how to find out what app is using your webcam in Windows 10. By following this guide, you can ensure you don’t run into clashes with your software and you can double check your camera isn’t being used by malicious software.

Ollie stumbled upon writing online whilst participating in a mobile network forum back in 2011. Since then, he has developed an incredible passion for writing about all sorts of tech from smartphones, PC hardware, software, and everything in between. Read Ollie’s Full Bio

If you're worried you might have some malware using your webcam to spy on you, MakeUseOf has a list of steps you can follow to find out which Windows program is the culprit.

To do this you'll need Process Explorer, the awesome Windows Sysinternal tool developed by Mark Russinovich for IT work. You can download the installer here if you like, or you can just run the application from their server (which is faster).

Best Windows Task Manager Alternative: Process Explorer

Last week we asked you to share your favorite alternative to the functional but often underpowered…

With Process Explorer running, follow these steps:

  1. Figure out what your camera's object name is by finding it in Device Manager. For Windows 7: search "Device Manager" in the start menu. For Windows 8.1: search the same thing in the Charms bar.
  2. Once you locate it in the Device Manager, double-click and go to the "Details" tab. Open the property drop-down and select "Physical device object name", then right-click to copy the name.
  3. Return to the Process Explorer, or get it started if you haven't yet. Then hit Ctrl+F and paste the camera's object name into the search field and click "Search." You should see whatever processes are currently using your webcam.

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If the program using your webcam is something you recognized, there's no need to worry (but you may need to quit it if you don't want it running)! If you don't recognize the program, right-click it in Process Explorer and select "Kill Process", then uninstall it from your machine. After the program has been removed, run a full-system virus scan to ensure your machine is safe to use again.

Chris Hoffman
How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcamChris Hoffman
Editor-in-Chief

Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Have you ever wondered which applications on your PC are listening to your microphone? A new feature in Windows 10’s May 2019 Update tells you, but it’s easy to miss. This feature works for both desktop apps and Store apps.

How to See What’s Using Your Microphone Right Now

If an application is using your microphone, you’ll see a microphone icon in your notification area, also known as your system tray. It’s black if you’re using Windows 10’s light theme and white if you’re using Windows 10’s dark theme.

Hover your cursor over the icon and Windows will tell you which app is currently using your microphone. If more than one application is currently using your microphone, Windows will show you how many applications are using your microphone.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

If you don’t see the microphone icon, be sure to check the overflow menu by clicking the up arrow to the left of your notification icons. If the microphone icon is hidden here and you’d prefer it visible on your taskbar, you can drag and drop it to the notification area on your taskbar.

This icon only appears while an application is currently using, or listening to, your microphone. If you don’t see it, no applications are using your microphone right now.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

If multiple applications are using your microphone and you’d like to know which, click the icon. It will take you to the Settings > Privacy > Microphone window. Scroll through the list and look for applications with red “Currently in use” text.

Note that there are two lists here—one list of “Microsoft Store apps” and one of traditional “desktop apps.” Be sure to look through each list.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

How to See Which Apps Have Previously Used Your Microphone

Even if no applications are using your microphone right now and the icon doesn’t appear, you can check which applications have been using your microphone. Head to Settings > Privacy > Microphone in Windows 10 to open the microphone settings.

Scroll through the list of applications with permission to access your microphone and look under each for a “Last accessed” date and time. Windows will tell you the exact date and time your microphone was last accessed by the application.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

The Settings > Privacy > Camera pane also shows when apps last accessed your computer’s webcam hardware. However, there’s no similar notification icon for webcam access—Microsoft’s thinking may be that your computer likely has a visible webcam indicator light already.

Don’t Trust This Completely For Desktop Apps

As Microsoft notes, desktop applications could interact directly with your microphone or webcam hardware and bypass Windows 10’s privacy controls and monitoring.

In other words, it’s possible a desktop application could access your microphone or webcam but not appear in this list. An application may be accessing your microphone hardware at a low-level, and the microphone icon may not appear.

However, Windows should detect microphone access from the vast majority of desktop applications. Specially coded RAT malware, however, could evade detection.

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How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »

You don’t need a fancy wireless network camera or a spare Android/iOS gadget to set up your own home monitoring system. Here’s how to use a USB-connected or built-in PC webcam to watch your home or office space when you’re not around. Don’t have a webcam? Check out our Top Webcams Chart.

Step 1: Download and install Yawcam

We’re going to use Yawcam, a free Java webcam app. Yawcam lets you use any of the cameras attached to your PC to capture a live feed and then publish the live video from your Web-connected PC. First, download the Yawcam installer and click through the wizard to install it. Once Yawcam is finished installing, make sure the webcam(s) you want to use are plugged in and have drivers installed. When everything is hooked up properly, launch Yawcam.

Step 2: Configure your webcam in Yawcam

First, make sure that Yawcam is using the right webcam. When you open Yawcam for the first time, you won’t have any active video feeds. You can add your camera by clicking the Settings menu and choosing Device. If your webcam is built into your PC–as is the case with those found on most laptops and all-in-one desktops–select the Integrated Camera option. If you’re using a USB-connected external webcam, select Change to and choose your USB camera out of the lineup. If your camera doesn’t show up, try choosing Detect webcam--if Yawcam finds your camera, it will add it to the list.

Yawcam preview window. How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam If Yawcam detects your camera, it should open a new Preview window with your camera’s video feed. Once everything is working and in the proper position, we’re ready to start configuring the motion-detection feature.

Step 3: Turn on motion detection

Next, turn on Yawcam’s motion detection feature. From the main Yawcam window, click on the Window menu and select Motion Detection. This window shows you a preview of the motion your camera is detecting. You can fine-tune the motion-detection features in the Settings menu, where you can confine the motion detection to a certain area of the camera image, tweak the sensitivity level, and more. Feel free to play around with the settings a bit, then click the Enable button on the left-hand side of the window. Now motion detection is running, but it’s not streaming the camera feed anywhere.

Step 4: Set up Yawcam’s email function

Set up Yawcam to email you when it detects motion. You may need to get the SMTP settings from your email provider or ISP. How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam Having a motion-detector webcam is handy, but you need some way of monitoring the feed when you’re not at your desk, so we’re going to configure Yawcam to email you snapshots whenever the motion detector is triggered. From the Motion Detection window, click the Actions tab and check Send E-Mail; then click the Settings menu button. Here you’ll need some information from your email provider–specifically, the SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) settings. If you’re a Gmail user, you can find Google’s SMTP settings by following these instructions. Otherwise, you’ll have to consult your email provider or ISP for the SMTP settings.

Next, check Attach image at the top of Yawcam’s Email Settings menu, specify the email address you want Yawcam to send it to, and tweak the flood control settings to make sure you aren’t completely inundated with camera spam–in our case, we left it on the default settings, which caps the camera’s output at one email every five minutes, though you may want to boost it up to ten minutes (600 seconds). Click OK, and you should be all set.

Step 5: Other important steps for making sure Yawcam works correctly

Whenever Yawcam is open, your camera will be watching out for your home like a hawk. However, to ensure that you’re actually getting your surveillance play-by-play delivered to you, you’ll need to make sure your PC doesn’t enter sleep or stand-by mode while you’re away. Go to Control Panel, Power Options, Change When the Computer Sleeps to make sure your PC is still powering your webcam. It’s also a good idea to turn off the display (but not the computer) so that any sneaky targets aren’t aware of your monitoring activities.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Do you notice some unusual activity on your computer which has given you all sorts of ideas that someone might be remotely accessing your computer? Well, your worry is justified. Everyone has their personal and critical information stored on their computers which is accessed by someone unwanted can be dangerous.

But how do you tell if someone is remotely viewing your computer?

Here are some solid clues:

1. Check recent activities

If you want to know someone is accessing your computer, then the first and foremost thing you should do is check your recent activities. If there have been some unexpected changes, this means that someone is remotely viewing your computer. If you have a Windows computer, you can easily check your recent activities by opening Documents folder -> This PC -> File Explorer. You can simply press Windows Button + E and click on Quick Access at the top left menu. You will be able to see all the files that you accessed in the recent past. If something seems abnormal or unusual, that is your clue.

2. Check your browser history

Another way to know if someone is accessing your computer is by checking your browser history. If it is a hacker, they would definitely be sure about deleting the browser history but if the evesdropper makes a rookie mistake, you will know that someone has used your computer without your permission. It is very easy to check your browser history. If you use Google Chrome, click on the vertical ellipsis on the top right corner and click on History. There you have it.

3. Check Log Events

If you are using Windows 10, then it is easier to know if someone is accessing your computer. Windows 10 maintains a log of all the times you log in to your system. You will find all these logs in the Event Viewer app. Go to the Windows Log in the Event Viewer and choose Security. You will need a little more expertise to decipher those codes because these logs are just numbers to a layman.

4624 means ‘Logon’

4672 means ‘Special Logon’

4634 means ‘Logoff’have

4. Review your firewall settings

If you are wondering how to tell if someone is remotely viewing your computer, then you must check your firewall settings. A firewall is basically the shield that prevents other people from gaining access to your computer. So, if your firewall settings has enabled remote access, then you might be in trouble. Go to the computer’s Control Panel to check the Firewall settings.

5. Use Task Manager to detect access

Another way you can tell if someone is remotely viewing your computer by assessing the programs recently opened from Window’s Task manager. Press Ctrl+ALT+DEL and choose Task Manager from the options available to you. Review your current programs and identify if there has been any unusual activity.

It is a huge threat if someone gets access to your computer remotely because they will then have access to all your information which if got into the wrongs hands can be menacing. So, prevention is always better than cure.

How do you stop someone from accessing my computer remotely?

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

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With so many computers now coming with built-in cameras, especially notebooks, some people tend to worry that their cameras are being used by third-parties who want to spy on them. Most cameras have a light that illuminates when they’re active, but that’s not always enough for the tinfoil hat brigade.

But let us be honest here for a second, even if that little light is on, you’re still going to want to know which application is using it, and that’s not always obvious – especially if the app doesn’t want you to know what it’s doing in the first place.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Because of that, we have put together a few steps that can be used to try and check what app is using that camera of yours, and it’s really not that difficult.

In order to do this though, you’ll need to use Process Explorer which can be downloaded by heading over to this link. It’s a quick download and you’ll be up and running in no time, provided you have a decent enough Internet connection, of course.

Once you’ve downloaded Process Explorer from the link embedded above, you need to get your hardware camera’s full name, which can be fished out of Device Manager, that can be accessed by right-clicking the Computer icon on your desktop, then Manage, then clicking Device Manager on the left-hand side navigation pane in the resulting Computer Management window.

Refer to the screenshot below to know exactly where you need to end up.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

You’ll need to double-click the camera in Device Manager and have a look in the Details tab. In the Property drop-down menu, you need to find Physical device object name. Right-click on the value and click copy.

Note: Usually the built-in camera of the PC you’re using can be found under Imaging Devices in Device Manager.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Finally, run Process Explorer, press the CTRL + F keys, and paste in your camera’s name, which you copied from Device Manager. Hit ‘Search’ and you should get a list of what is accessing your camera at that time. If they’re processes you know about, then you’re golden. If not, then you’ve got a problem and you’ll probably want to get them killed ASAP.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

If you do find abutting untoward then you might want to run a virus scan or two. Maybe three.

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Some users have reported coming across “Webcam is being used by another application” error message while using Skype and other video calling apps. You will find below the steps to fix this problem in Windows 10.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Webcam is Being Used by Another Application

The error message “Your Webcam is currently being used by another application” occurs irrespective of whether you are using the integrated webcam on the Laptop or using an external Camera attached to a desktop computer.

In general, this error is known to occur due to Corruption of Skype program, missing or corrupted Camera drivers, the Camera App being corrupted and due to Skype or other video calling Apps not having the permission to access the Camera on your computer.

1. Allow Skype to Access Camera

A simple reason for “Your webcam is currently being used by another Application” error message is due to Skype being unable to access the camera on your computer.

1. Go to Settings > Privacy > select Camera in the left pane. In the right-pane, toggle ON Allow Apps to Access your Camera option.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

2. Next, scroll down and toggle ON the slider next to Camera , located under “Choose which apps can access your camera” section.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

3. On the same screen, scroll down further and make sure that the slider for Skype is set to ON position.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

Restart your computer to implement this change.

2. Enable Camera on your computer

It is possible that you or someone else with access to computer may have disabled the webcam for security reasons or the webcam has been disabled by the security program on your computer.

1. Right-click on the Start button and click on Device Manager .

2. On the Device Manager screen, expand the entry for Cameras (or Imaging Devices), right-click on your webcam and click on Enable Device option.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

3. Reset the Camera App

It is quite possible that the error message is being caused by a software glitch or a bug in the Camera App.

1. Go to Settings > Apps > select Apps & Features in the left pane. In the right-pane, scroll down and click on Camera > Advanced options .

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

2. On the next screen, scroll down and click on the Reset button.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

3. On the confirmation pop-up, click on Reset to confirm.

Restart your computer and see if you are still getting the error message on your computer.

4. Update Camera Drivers

1. Right-click on the Start button and click on Device Manager .

2. On the Device Manager screen, expand the entry for Cameras (or Imaging Devices), right-click on your webcam and click on Update Driver .

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

3. On the next screen, click on Search Automatically for updated driver software option.

Allow Windows 10 to search for the updated device driver on your computer and follow the prompts to install the updated driver (if available).

4. Restart your Computer to implement this change.

5. Use Desktop Version of Skype

If you are unable to fix the problem using above methods, you can try using the classic desktop version of Skype on your computer, instead of using the Skype App as already available in Windows 10.

1. Open Chrome or any other web browser and download Skype for Windows on your computer.

How to tell which application is using your windows pc’s webcam

2. Once the download is complete, double-click on the download Skype.exe File and follow the onscreen prompts to complete the installation of Skype.

3. After Installing Skype, Restart your computer and open the New Skype Desktop App.

Using the classic version of Skype should allow you to make Skype video calls without encountering “Your webcam is currently being used by another application” error.