If you're having trouble getting your third-party webcam to work with Windows Hello on a new Surface for facial authentication, we have an easy fix.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my recent experiences switching from Mac to Windows, moving from a MacBook Pro to new Surface Pro. And though the transition was mostly smooth, I noted that I had some issues getting my Logitech BRIO webcam working with my Surface Pro for Windows Hello face authentication.

Surface Pro impressions from a recovering Mac addict

Earlier this week, Logitech reached out to me to explain why its webcam wasn't working for face authentication and suggest a way to fix the problem. From Logitech:

Since Surface Pro tablets feature a built-in IR camera for Windows Hello, they default to that camera and don't have any alternate settings currently enabled, which would allow users to select other cameras, such as the Logitech BRIO. The only way around this feature is to disable the built-in IR camera in Device Manager, which will allow the Logitech BRIO to work instead of the Hello built-in camera. At this time, there is not a way to easily switch between the two cameras.

Lo and behold, the solution worked. Here's how to use Windows Device Manager to disable your Surface's infrared (IR) camera and default to a third-part cam for Windows Hello.

How to disable your PC's camera using Windows Device Manager

Before you disable your Surface's built-in IR camera to use a third-party option for Windows Hello, ensure that the secondary camera supports Windows Hello face recognition and that it's plugged in and set up. Then follow these steps:

  1. Search for "Device Manager" in your task bar search field.
  2. Click on Windows Device Manager.
  3. Scroll down to "System Devices," and click the right-facing arrow to open the menu.

  4. Scroll down in that menu until you find "Microsoft IR Camera Front."
  5. Right-click on "Microsoft IR Camera Front."
  6. Click to select Disable device.

  7. Click Yes in the pop-up box to confirm your decision to disable the camera. You should see a small downward-arrow icon to designate that the device is disabled.

Your Surface PC should default to the third-party camera for Windows Hello, but if not, make sure the device is set up and working properly otherwise. It's also a good idea to recalibrate Windows Hello using your new camera. And you might have to restart your PC.

How to improve Windows Hello facial recognition

You can make sure your third-party camera gets a good read on your face for authentication using these steps:

  1. In your task bar search field, type "Sign-in options".
  2. Click Sign-in options.
  3. Under the section titled Windows Hello, click the Improve recognition button.

  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and make sure you're looking straight into the camera.

  5. You should receive a confirmation that the process is complete. If not, repeat these steps until you do.

Wrapping up

This easy process solved my issue with the Logitech Brio camera and my Surface Pro's Windows Hello authentication. Of course, the downside here is that if I want to use Windows Hello when I'm away from my office and my Logitech Brio, I need to re-enable the default Microsoft IR camera. It's relatively easy to do so (just reverse the process detailed here), but I wish Microsoft built some setting in that let you use a third-party camera for face authentication when docked to a monitor and webcam and then reverted to the built-in IR cam when you're out and about.

Anyway, a big thanks to Logitech for reaching out to help me solve my problem.