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dina_didi's avatar

How is it that my OS says that the webcam app needs to quit, when I did not turn it on in the first place?

Asked by dina_didi (1276points) July 11th, 2014
8 responses
“Great Question” (0points)

Sometimes when I am turning off my laptop there is a message that an application is open and needs to terminate. This application is my webcam. I am worried why this happens since I am not using my webcam (and not using programs that use my webcam). I am worried that someone hacked it. Could you give me some ideas why that happens and what can I do about it?

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ragingloli's avatar

When the operating system shuts down, it attempts to close all running programs and applications by itself.
Sometimes it fails to do so, and asks you to manually close the respective program yourself.
It is completely normal, and you should not worry about it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Although you may not have overtly turned it on, may have run some application that turned it on without telling you. Some web sites do that, and some chat-like software does as well.

If you’re absolutely sure you will NEVER use the webcam, go into Control panel / Devices and simply disable the webcam entirely. That will (a) not make it available to the operating system, and (b ) it will cause whatever program that was opening it in the first place to fail, and then you can figure out what to do next.

If you think that someone is spying on you (there was a big scandal a couple years ago in Connecticut (?) where a school system was spying on students using the built-in webcams) then the easiest thing to do is put a piece of duct tape over the camera opening.

snowberry's avatar

@elbanditoroso If someone is indeed spying on you through a webcam, couldn’t they still hear quite well even if the camera is blocked with duct tape?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@snowberry – yes, of course. But the question is, which is more invasive, a picture or a sound? In the Connecticut spying case, many students had their laptops set up in their bedrooms, and the school computer department was watching the kids change clothes, dry off after a shower, and so on and so forth. To me, that’s probably more invasive than a person talking.

But don’t get me wrong – both are improper.

hearkat's avatar

@elbanditoroso – It was Philadelphia:

@dina_didi – You may want to go through your computer’s setup to see if you have any applications that are set to automatically open when you boot up your computer. I also recommend going through the settings and preferences of every app you use to see if they have options for mic and camera access, in addition to those in the OS.

If you indicate what make and model of computer and what OS it is running, someone here might be able to give you more specific steps on how to disable the webcam and microphone, and perhaps also how to test for malware in your system.

Haustere's avatar

Expanding upon @hearkat‘s answer: Open windows Start Menu > search & open “Services.msc” > look for the webcam program in the list > right-click and select “Properties” > in the General tab, change the start-up type from “Automatic” to “Manual”

This will ensure the program will only open when you specifically run it, rather than starting up the moment you turn on the computer. Hope that helped!

dina_didi's avatar

@hearkat and @Haustere I am going to do this right now! I was worried about it and now that there is a solution to my problem I will be able to use my laptop without being afraid that somebody is spying on me. @elbanditoroso in the past I used duct tape to hide my webcam and it helped me but my only problem was that everytime I needed to use the webcam it was sticky and blurry… Thank you all for your ideas!

snowberry's avatar

With the possibility of forgetting and leaving the camera on, or someone breaking into your computer remotely, I’d still put something over the camera. If the camera is built in, I use a sticky note, bent into an L shape and stuck to the top of the computer. The sticky never touches the lens, but the paper covers it anyway.

If it’s an add on, I simply turn the camera to the ceiling, or turn it backwards to the wall.

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