How to Tell Which Application Is Using Your Windows PC’s Webcam

By Chris Hoffman on January 20th, 2017

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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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.

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

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 01/20/17
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