What's the best way to cover my built in webcam?
March 6, 2014 10:42 AM   Subscribe

In light of revelations that some folks can look at me over the internet through my webcam without me knowing, I would like to have a solution to this problem. I was thinking that taping over the webcam would work well, but it might also look tacky, and might also add a residue to my computer that I would not like. Is there a kind of tape that would look good on a unibody macbook pro? How would I make that tape look good? What sort of tape would be suggested for its no residue, opaque characteristics? Is there a better solution than tape, like a well-thought out kickstarter project or something of that nature? Please help me with my paranoid bougie computer problem.
posted by oceanjesse to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
if you're confident that you're never going to use the webcam feature, I'd just brush the lens with a couple layers of black nail polish.

FWIW, if I were worried about the webcam, I'd be more worried about the microphone recording my conversations.
posted by skewed at 10:45 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am extremely confident that I will use the webcam feature in the future.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:46 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know a lot of people with little bits of duct or gaff tape over their webcam.

Get a cool color or design. Duct tape in fun designs is kind of a thing right now. Any craft store -- and lots of hardware stores -- will have this.

You could also try Japanese washi tape, which is basically masking tape with cool designs printed on it. I use washi tape to cover, for example, the Surgeon General's Warning that uglies up the pretty cigar box on my dresser. It's not perfectly opaque, though.

Re residue, goo gone will take that right off.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on March 6, 2014

The adhesive on Post-It notes is pretty friendly - just cut a little rectangle out of the sticky side of one.
posted by exogenous at 10:49 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

Can't vouch for any of these personally, but here's a little doodad for just that purpose. Here's another and here's an indiegogo campaign.
posted by aka burlap at 10:51 AM on March 6, 2014

I was thinking post-it. They make small one, or you could just cut the adhesive off a bigger one into a square or circle to fit right over the lens.

Problem solved:))
posted by jbenben at 10:52 AM on March 6, 2014

I cover mine with a Spongebob Squarepants Band-Aid. There's many other characters to choose from.
posted by jamaro at 10:57 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

One more! (sorry, I have a bunch of work I need to get done today so obviously I'm suddenly feeling really enthusiastic about googling for webcam covers.)
posted by aka burlap at 10:58 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

EFF makes them. Link to article on how to avoid reside: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/04/how-protect-against-laptop-webcam-hacking
posted by PickeringPete at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2014

Thwart hostile adversaries and frustrate peepers with EFF's Laptop Camera Covers! Say goodbye to that unsightly sticky note/masking tape/nectarine sticker guarding your machine.

Only $5, with a "unique ultra-removeable adhesive backing to ensure that they won't leave gummy residue on your lens."

And you'll be supporting a very good cause to boot!
posted by KatlaDragon at 11:04 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

Gaffer tape is what you are looking for.
posted by Silvertree at 11:12 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could use software to disable the webcam entirely until you decide to turn it back on. Free of charge here, and no unsightly cover.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:16 AM on March 6, 2014

Huh. I just use a tiny Hello Kitty band aid (and usually remember to remove it when I go to client meetings). So I vote band aids.
posted by mochapickle at 11:22 AM on March 6, 2014

A little piece of black electrical tape would work well.
posted by mekily at 11:28 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I disabled the camera program and turn it on whenever I need it. Additionally, I put a fruit sticker on the cam. Mine says "Ugli".
posted by travelwithcats at 11:31 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use the sticky note method.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I folded a piece of card stock into a U and hang it over that spot. No residue ever. Of course, I have to put it on when I want that privacy.
posted by advicepig at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2014

I use a small piece of white surgical tape. I also uninstalled the driver for it, so as far as Windows is concerned there isn't any such device on this computer.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:06 PM on March 6, 2014

I learned this lesson the hard way and religiously use a post it note over all webcams. Easy and flexible.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:25 PM on March 6, 2014

I use Washi tape... a million colors and patterns, not particularly sticky. I take it off and on all the time since I Skype pretty regularly (still sticky enough, no residue).
posted by jrobin276 at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2014

Another product option: C-Slide
posted by rhizome at 1:36 PM on March 6, 2014

Post-Its, yes, but if you're going to use tape it's probably painter's tape that you want. It's designed to leave minimal residual adhesive. It's usually various shades of blue.
posted by dhartung at 2:26 PM on March 6, 2014

Laptop repair technician who has cleaned dirty-soaked adhesive off of a LOT(like, probably more than 50 or 60) of webcam lenses.

PLEASE use gaff tape. It's much easier than using 90% rubbing alcohol and a wash cloth to carefully try and grind off all the glue without the dirt in it scratching up the lens which is yes, even on a macbook, made out of the crappiest softest plastic that is used for hotwheels windshields as far as i can tell.
posted by emptythought at 5:26 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are there new revelations that make this applicable to late model Macbook Pros? The most recent exploit I have heard of is only capable of disabling the hardwired LED on pre 2009 Macbooks.
posted by nímwunnan at 6:55 PM on March 6, 2014

I wouldn't use tape of any kind, I'd use cling film. And you could cut it into nice shapes.
posted by looli at 7:51 PM on March 6, 2014

FAMOUS MONSTER: "You could use software to disable the webcam entirely until you decide to turn it back on. Free of charge here, and no unsightly cover."

In general, if you can use software to disable your camera, hackers can use software to enable it again. So I wouldn't regard this as a solution for the paranoid.
posted by Aleyn at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2014

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