Using a sensor in Windows 7

What is a sensor?

Sensors are hardware components that can provide your computer with information about your computer's location, surroundings, and more. Programs on your computer can access information from sensors, and then store or use it to help you with everyday tasks or to improve your computer experience. There are two types of sensors:

  • Sensors that are built in to your computer
  • Sensors that are connected to your computer by a wired or wireless connection

Some examples of sensors include a location sensor, such as a GPS receiver, that can detect your computer's current location. A program could then use that location to provide you with information about nearby restaurants or driving directions to your next destination. A light sensor installed on your computer could detect the light in your surroundings, and then adjust the screen brightness to match it.

Using location and other sensors

By using sensors, programs on your computer can customize information and services for you based on your computer's current location, surroundings, and more. For example, with a location sensor and your computer, you may be able to find a nearby restaurant, get directions to that restaurant, send the directions to a friend, and then follow the directions on a map as you travel to your destination.

Programs can access information from a sensor once it's installed and enabled on your computer. Programs can then store or use that information to help you with everyday tasks or to improve your computer experience. To help prevent all programs and user accounts from accessing information from a sensor, you can disable the sensor.

Because some programs may send personal information over network connections, you can enable or disable a sensor only when you are logged on to Windows with an administrator account.

You may want to limit access to personal information about certain users on your computer. 

How does a sensor affect my privacy?

By default, when a sensor is enabled, all programs and users on your computer can access the information from that sensor. Windows notifies you when programs access information about your location by temporarily displaying the Location and Other Sensors icon in the notification area. Windows displays this icon the first time a program or a service accesses your computer's location from a sensor.

Some programs could potentially use personal information (such as your location) from sensors without permission. You can limit programs from accessing information from sensors by user account.  

Change who can access information from a sensor

You might want to limit programs or services (which run in the background for all user accounts) from accessing information from sensors. By default, when you first enable a sensor, all programs and services can access information from the sensor for all user accounts. You can choose to limit programs from accessing information from sensors by user account. You can also choose to limit services from accessing information from sensors, but this will apply to all user accounts.

  1. Open Location and Other Sensors by clicking the Start button Asset not found, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sensors, and then click Location and Other Sensors
  2. In the left pane, click Change user settings.
  3. Under Sensor, from the list, click the sensor that you want to change user settings for.
  4. Under Access, select the check box next to each user name to provide access, or clear the check box next to each user name to remove access, and then click OK.
    Administrator permission required
     If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Enable or disable a sensor

Programs can use information from a sensor after it's enabled. You can enable or disable sensors that are installed on your computer in Location and Other Sensors in Control Panel. Disabling a sensor doesn't turn it off. Some programs may still access information from a sensor when it's disabled.

Once a sensor is enabled, by default, all users and programs on your computer can access information from it. The first time a program or a service accesses your computer's location from a sensor, Windows will temporarily display the Location and Other Sensors icon in the notification area. 

To enable or disable a sensor

  1. Open Location and Other Sensors by clicking the Start button Asset not found, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sensors, and then click Location and Other Sensors.
  2. Select the check box next to the sensor that you want to enable, or clear the check box to disable the sensor, and then click Apply.
    Administrator permission required
     If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Install or uninstall a sensor

Check the information that came with your sensor or go to the sensor manufacturer's website. After you've installed a sensor, you must enable it. This allows programs to access information from the sensor.

To uninstall a sensor

  1. Open Location and Other Sensors by clicking the Start button Asset not found, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type sensors, and then click Location and Other Sensors.
  2. Click the sensor that you want to uninstall.
  3. Under More options, click Uninstall this sensor, and then click OK. 
    Administrator permission required
     If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

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Article ID: 18522 - Last Review: May 11, 2016 - Revision: 18

  • Windows 7
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