Let’s Disable Your Webcam

In today’s article, we’re going to show you how to disable your webcam. It’s something I’ve seen folks ask before, and something someone contacted me to ask about. While I don’t normally answer questions via email, it did seem like a good article to write.

I see this question, about how to disable your webcam, quite a lot. There are some ingenious solutions, from sliders you can stick to your laptop to just putting a piece of electrical tape over it. Some vendors have gotten in on it and include a sliding cover that you can use when the webcam is not in use.

If you’re that paranoid, you might want to look for a laptop (generally) that doesn’t have a webcam – but that can be hard to find these days. In some cases, they’ll have a red light that comes on when the webcam is in use. Of course, the truly paranoid don’t trust that. And the really, truly paranoid people know their coffee pot is spying on them!

Well, in today’s article we’re going to share how to disable your webcam. It won’t be all that difficult. It’s something a beginner could do, if they can follow directions, because we’ll be using nano. So, anyone can do this…

NOTE: I only tested this with Lubuntu. That means it should work with any Ubuntu flavor and with any derivatives of Ubuntu. It should also work up-stream and in most distros, but I can’t say that those have been tested.

Disable Your Webcam:

Like many articles, this one requires an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Once you have the terminal open, enter the following command:

Now, copy/paste (or type yourself) the following into that file:

The first line, the line starting with a # sign, is a ‘comment’, meaning that it’s there for you, the reader, and won’t be interpreted by the computer as an input or a command of any kind. This is pretty common and traditional. You can change that text to anything you’d like. Something short and descriptive is probably best.

Now, you’ve gotta save it. It’s nano, so it’s actually not that hard but might confuse some folks. After all, it could seem hard if you’ve never done it before, but this is how you save it with nano. You just press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER Bob’s your uncle! It’ll save the file and close nano for you.

Finally, you need to reboot for the changes to take effect. The effect is permanent, more or less. If you want to undo it permanently, then just reverse the process from above. If you want to disable it temporarily, you can try this and it should work for you:

That should do it! Though you’d still have a non-working webcam the next time you rebooted your computer. If you’re going to take the time to disable your webcam, you probably want that behavior anyhow. Again, if you disable your webcam and want to truly reverse it, just remove the lines like I mentioned.

Closure:

I don’t really want to encourage people, but I won’t be terribly rude if you email me with a question. Just, you know, know that I have other things going on in my life and that I don’t actually have all the answers. I write about the things I know, the things in my notes, or the things that spring to mind when I am late with scheduling another article. Ah well, now you know how to disable your webcam.

On the other hand, you can feel free to email me questions you think I might be able to answer (Keep ’em simple!) that might make good articles. I could use your question as a bit of an intro fluffing device and then do a “Reader’s Questions” kinda thing. There’s a big difference between emailing me for support and emailing me with a question that might make a good article. There’s no pressure in the latter case, as there is no time constraints or expectations. So, feel free to do that – just don’t expect me to respond with a solution, and there might be an article that comes from it.

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