How to set up camera privacy settings in Windows 10

Before you can use a camera app in Windows 10 you have to allow access to the camera itself. Only then can you allow access to the app. We walk you through it.

A man making a Zoom call.

Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

For many Microsoft Windows 10 users, the camera has become vital to their day-to-day routine. Whether it is the low-resolution camera housed in your old laptop or the latest high-definition digital camera, teleconferencing, Zoom meetings and other collaborative business endeavors require a working and properly configured camera.

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For most cameras, configuration and the permission to access the camera are handled during the installation process, but not always. Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, you will have to configure or reconfigure a camera to work with Windows 10. However, the location in Windows 10’s labyrinth of configuration screens where you would make those changes might not be where you think it should be.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to access camera settings in Windows 10 and how to grant permission to access a camera to specific apps.

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How to set up camera configuration settings in Windows 10

While you might think the camera settings would exist under Devices in the Windows 10 Settings menu, they are actually located under Privacy. Click or tap the Windows Start button, click Settings (gear icon) and then select the Privacy tab. Scroll down the left-hand navigation bar on the Privacy settings screen and select the Camera link to reach the screen shown in Figure A.

Figure A

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The first step to is to make sure you have access to your camera turned on. If you don’t, click the Change button and move the switch to the on position.

The next step asks if you want to allow apps to access the camera: That switch should also be flipped to the on position, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

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Scroll down the right-hand screen to reveal the next configuration section, shown in Figure C. In this section you can select which Microsoft Store-approved apps are allowed to access the camera.

Figure C

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The choices you make in this section are a matter of personal preference. However, as a general rule, if you don’t use the app, don’t allow camera access. Although occurrences are rare, camera apps have been used to breech Windows 10 security protocols. Removing access from apps you don’t use is just a prudent security exercise.

As you scroll further down the right-hand screen you come across a section (Figure D) that allows you to give permission to specific apps (non-Store). This switch should be flipped to the on position if you want to use teleconferencing apps like Zoom. Oddly, this is also where you can grant camera access permission to Microsoft Teams.

Figure D

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The same general rule applies here as well: If you do not use these apps, turn off permission to access the camera. Unfortunately, you cannot grant access at the individual app level in this section—it is either on or off for all.

Unlike some other peripheral devices, Windows 10 pushes other camera configuration settings, like photo quality resolution, video resolution and color correction to the apps you have granted camera access.

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