Whenever you join an unscheduled meeting in Microsoft Teams, it automatically turns on the camera for video calls. For a scheduled meeting, or a Group or 1:1 call from Chat, this is not the case. The video is off by default in a scheduled meeting and for a Group or 1:1 call from Chat, it always asks to join the video.
But for unscheduled meetings, the default ‘video on’ is a problem for a lot of people. And let’s be honest, not all meetings are formally scheduled through Outlook. And scheduled meetings are not even an option if you are using the Microsoft Teams free plan. So, you are stuck with the default ‘video on’ option.
And despite many complaints from users to reverse this feature, i.e. users want the video to be off by default, as the current situation is considered a privacy violation by many, and it also takes a toll on the bandwidth, Microsoft has decided to stick with it.
So, the only way to turn the camera off in meetings is by doing it manually. When joining a meeting from the Channel dashboard, you can turn off the camera before joining. Click the ‘Join’ button on the Channel dashboard to join an ongoing meeting.
A screen would open asking you to choose the audio and video settings for the meeting. By default, the camera is on. Turn off the toggle for the camera and then click on ‘Join now’ to join the meeting with the camera off.
You can also turn the camera off from within the meeting at any time. In an ongoing meeting, click on the ‘camera’ icon on the toolbar with ‘end call’ and other options to turn the camera off. When the camera is off, the icon has a diagonal line on it.
If you are not joining the meeting from the dashboard and instead someone has invited you to join a meeting, you will receive a call. So while joining a meeting from a call, you can choose ‘Voice only’ to join the meeting with the camera off.
Note: If turning off the camera manually isn’t good enough, users can also try other tricks to block the video feed. Use a black electrical tape or a magnetic lens to cover your computer’s camera, or use anti-virus software that also provides additional privacy protection by preventing the apps from using the webcam without your permission. This way, it won’t matter if you forget to turn the camera off while or after joining a meeting.