Disable the accidental launch feature for a faster Lumia camera

One of the banner features of owning a Lumia PureView device tends to be the dedicated camera button. It seems like a small thing, but once you start using one, it is hard to go back to just a software camera launcher.

A neat trick that Lumias like the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL have enabled out of the box is a feature to prevent accidental camera launches when in your pocket. It works by enabling the front sensor near the earpiece for proximity detection. You can try it yourself by covering the top front of the display with your finger and then trying to launch the camera button – it won't work.

The idea here is smart: if the Lumia is in your bag, purse or pants you do not want to hit accidentally the camera button and have it and the display active and draining your battery (and taking boring photos).

However, there can be some side effects too.

I sometimes pull the Lumia out of my pocket or bag while pressing the camera button at the same. Sometimes you want to be quick, right? Other times my hand may trick the sensor as I'm framing the photo. The result? I hit the camera button, and it doesn't seem to register.

Nothing it worse than a stuck button and if you have experienced that at least you now know what is causing it. Your button is fine, but the accidental press feature is doing its job.

Personally I like to disable the accidental launch feature. For one, I do not notice my camera launching when it shouldn't and two, the camera button feels more consistent now. Each button press is 100% guaranteed going to launch the camera no matter the environment.

Disable Accidental Camera Launch feature

1. Settings

2. Devices

3. Default Camera

Navigate until you find Prevent accidental camera launch when the device is locked and toggle it to off. The effect is immediate and does not require a restart.

What should you do? The choice is yours. Watch our video above for a demonstration and try it yourself. Find out which option you prefer and go with it!

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

70 Comments
  • Love all these tips. Keep them coming. Dying to see more of the red Mozo cover and a full look at the XL. Cheers Daniel. Can you also include details of what we lose by going for the 950/XL devices. Like Here Drive, also is Office as feature full as on 8.1? I have no doubt other things may have gone too.
  • Well, HERE drive is coming back and their PR guy just told me that again on Twitter, so just a temp thing. Why it's taking so long I have no idea.
  • Does that include the Here Maps app Daniël?
  • Sweet! Always performed way better than GF's Google satnav. Will to still be free? I hope so.
  • Could delay be legal related to Here sale finalizing?
  • The excellent one hand usability of 8.1 is gone, unfortunately. The ability to set data limits is also currently missing. I do like a lot of other things about my 950, though.
  • Setting data limits is still absolutely there. Just go to settings and search for Data Usage and there you go. You can set your limits same as before. only downside is the lack of live tile.
  • There is a live tile.    Go to Settings - Network & Wireless   Long press in Data Usage and pin to start. The tile will be live. It flips between SIM1, SIM2 and WiFi.
  • Thanks for that tip, JoaoCSM!
  • I'm not seeing it on my 950. Are you on a Preview build?
  • I have it on my 950XL and it's the version that was preinstalled on it.
  • Weird, I wonder if it has a newer version.
  • I did suggest in feedback that they could have scroll down as an option on the start screen. So I could then put my most used ones at the bottom, near my thumb, eg phone and messages. And the least used at the top.
  • I mostly can't stand the hamburger menu being in the hardest to reach place. I get the reason why, but it sucks.
  • If you hold down the start/home button it pulls the top of the screen halfway down, everything is easy to reach then, as long as you have a thumb.
  • I do have a thumb. Two, actually. One for each hand. :P But thanks for the tip, though it's still unfortunate the layout isn't better designed.
  • Office is much much much more feature full on windows 10 mobile. Office on 8.1 couldn't even display most pictures. As for one hand usage, hold down the home button to bring the top of the screen down. Hold it down again to revert your screen back
  • Omg holding the start button for one hand mode. Thank you for opening up my world.
  • Is this sarcasm? Lol
  • Man, I was wondering why the camera button doesn't work at times. I took out of pocket already and still wouldn't launch. This fixed it.
  • Oh man, thanks for that tip. I forgot about that setting and was wondering why the camera wouldn't launch sometimes which was disappointing me.
  • Me too. Although I never had issues on my 1020 even with the setting on.
  • Concur with that. I kept thinking it was a bug in the OS, but remembered I often hold the end with the ambient sensor on it in such a way that my hand is probably blocking the ambient sensor from time to time.
  • I miss that from my 520 :/
  • Great tip!
  • Good tip. Anyone else having the 1520 camera crash after taking the picture?
  • My 1​520 had same issue and taking pictures some times is frustrating. Navigating to photos app to preview images is also slow. I switched back to Windows phone 8.1.
  • Yep. Especially when using rich capture. It also takes forever to put the finishing touches on some photos.
  • One gripe I have is my camera won't focus properly when taking a photo of a Christmas tree with all the lights on. I have to focus on something else. Anyone else had this problem?
  • This is a common problem with digital cameras in general, at least the ones based on contrast-detection. I've seen this happen with iPhones and Android phones too, not to mention, even my pro dSLR sometimes struggles with focus on things with lots of Christmas lights, at least if it's moderately near.
  • You sound like you might have some tips to work around this? Enlighten a camera noob. I've noticed this too - blurry Xmas trees galore.
  • ...good thing though, is that Camera app on WM10 has manual focus 'knob'. For the 'too many lights' focus dilema, I usually point the camera to base of the tree, or any object with the similar distance (from your camera to the subject) and lock the focus in there. Go back to and frame your shot then capture with the focus still locked. I know it's a daunting task (for some smartphones :)) but works everytime.
  • Definitely an issue with the 950.950XL, but also with other smartphone cameras. I try and use the manual focus option in the camera settings. Sometimes it helps and sometimes not so much.
  • Chris, have you tried using manual focus? Just slide the on screen camera button "out", and it'll give you the options of manually setting the camera. Generally, with the auto focus, I've noticed this on every digital I've used.  
  • Yeah, this feature is too agressive in preventing the camera launch. It worked way better in WP 8.1 on my 925. I disabled it on my 950, but then I got a lot of in-pocket pictures, and a dead battery so I had to re-enable it. (I did file Feedback that they need to improve the feature.)
  • Well that doesn't sound promising. :(
  • This is incredibly helpful. For me I'd often find that I'd have to hold the phone vertically for it to lauch, and even then it wouldn't always work. What I don't like is that the camera launches with a quick press. On my 920 it required holding down the button for half a second. I thought that was a good solution against accidental button presses, so I'm not sure why it's been changed.
  • I always make sure accidental camera prevention is activated, as I have had a number of (critical) times when phone has drained almost all battery, and then me needing my phone. I'd rather have some delays in picture taking (not that I can personally say I've ever had problem with this as much as with the sluggishness of actually opening camera app and taking a pic).
  • The title suggests that it is really faster, while in fact its only more reliable. It isn't faster to launch when launching it properly.
  • Faster cause you don't need to press two or three times ;) If I said 'reliable' people would say 'it still takes photos reliably, it's just takes them faster'. FirstworldTitleProblems.
  • Good to know. My 950 XL is on order but still not shipped. It is going to be so nice to get a great camera and hardware camera button back.
  • Oh man I hear you. Broke my 1520, waiting for my 950XL to ship. Should be in a week tops.
  • My credit card shows a pending charge for my 950XL order, so I expect it to ship really soon...
  • yeah, mine has a pending charge for the 1st. My assumption is early to mid week we should see a status change. The site still says ships by dec 11th so I'm hoping I'll have mine in my hands before the 18th, lol that's my birthday and I wanna take some nice pics and video with my brandynew phone.
  • I moved on from my HD7, I broke my 920, I got water in my 1020, I slammed my car door on my 1520, I broke my 830 from it slipping out of my shirt pocket while on my hands and knees to look under my car (fell about 1 ft on pavement and broke the screen in 2 places!) and I'll be very glad to move from the my 640. I think I'm going to cave and buy a case fro my 950 XL.
  • Wow, you sound like a accident to happen :) You maube need one of thouse industrial phones?
  • You need to consider Panasonic Windows Phone. It should last for a while for you. http://www.windowscentral.com/panasonic-toughpad-fz-e1-toughest-windows-...  
  • I had disabled it on my 830 only a few days after I had bought it. Was really annoying.
  • What do you mean "boring pictures"? Pants pictures are the next big thing.
  • Agreed, I used to have it turned on with my 920 and it did get to be a pain (though I had noticed that accidentally going into camera mode in my pocket so it was the lesser of two evils to have to hold the camera button for 3-4 seconds to get it to start), not been an issue with the 735, obviously. ;)
    ​ With the 950 though it all seems great, no accidental launching and hitting the camera button is so speedy to launch! It feels like WP7 again, pocket to picture feels like it's returned at long last, lol!
  • Weird, this feature was already disabled. It was the unlocked version of the 950, so maybe AT&T is enabling by default?
  • Great tip, was taking pictures yesterday and couldn't help but notice the camera button didn't always work. I had chalked this up to another software bug. Thanks!!
  • Thanks so much. Couldn't understand why that button would not work sometimes figured it was a windows 10 bug. Now I know it's a feature
  • The irony of that statement is hilarious: what people think are bugs, Windows treats as features.
  • So which one do you have, Daniel? The Lumia 950 or Lumia 950XL?
  • What calendar app is that?
  • Too bad Lumia Camera is gone for W10 mobile and as usual the MS answer for it is not as good yet. #poop
  • What's missing? Living images is back and better, the camera is faster, we now have Rich capture (not your average hdr) and all the manual controls, as well as features like 8MP burst mode and 4K recording are here. What are you missing?
  • nice tip Daniel... I really like the way you arrange your start screen, small icon on side and big in the middle, it really give a good look, I was finally able to place an order tonight for my 950XL, after a week of trying, i'm in Canada... 975$ with taxes...I never paid that much for a phone, I'm sure I won't regret it, can't wait to use it, the screen of my 1520 is broken, almost half of it is dead....
  • Reading this article has only now made me realise why my L930 wasn't always activating the camera as I pressed the shower button while pulling my phone out of my pocket!
  • Why would you press the shower button while pulling the camera out? Why are you using your camera under the shower?
  • How is the camera launcher supposed to work? It seams that with accidental launch prevention enables, the only way to launch the camera is if I am holding it in portrait. If I hold the camera in landscape (the may most people shoot pictures) it won't launch. Funny thing is that this won't prevent accidental launches since the camera rest in a portrait orientation in my pant pocket. Why aren't they just using a 3 sec press to launch the camera or maybe a double tap.
  • Mine launches the camera app in landscape perfectly fine, with and without accidental launch prevention enabled.  Works fine in portrait as well.  I don't know what's wrong with yours, but it seems it does not affect all of them.  I have an AT&T 950 btw.
  • You probably have your finger over the sensor when in landscape mode.
  • The annoying thing is, this worked fine for me prior to reflashing cyan in my 920. The last reflash messed up so many things. I might reflash my phone again with old files downloaded via navifirm. They worked without issues, just waiting on WM10 GA.
  • I'd like to disable accidental anything apart from ring when my 920 is in my pocket. Most often I can hear Cortana making her searching noise in my pocket, or a take the phone out of my pocket to find the PIN has been entered incorrectly a number of times. All of this happens whilst I'm sat still too, but it's worse when I'm moving.
  • Yup, I think it starts with freaking Cortana being linked to the search 'button'. From there onwards, the screen becomes active and the proximity sensor seems to be ignored. Cortana will launch if you even think about the search button, let alone touch it. Oops! There she goes again...
  • Yep, happens to me all the time too. And also if I'm using my headphones and Cortana doesn't register what I'm saying and turns off, then the phone stays on in my pocket and a dozen apps open.
  • Hi Daniel, I am unable to find Hey COrtana feature in 950XL, although cortana is enable. Can you tell me how to enable it. Thanks
  • Well, i seem to be missing this feature in my latest update (OS build: 10.0.14393.189) on my Lumia 640XL Theres only a few things i can click in the default camera settings, and NO option for turning this off? Cant even find anything in the lock screen settings either. Not even in the camera app itself when i open it and go to its settings. Am i forced to keep this off!? Wait i just realised i might have a different problem. Basically i want to turn a similar option like this ON for when my phone goes to lock screen, and the <-- arrow is replaced with the camera logo, which takes me to camera app with a single accidental tap. This is just horrible, is there any way to change it?