How to Turn Off Ring Camera Recording

Smart security cameras have many benefits, but many of them use cloud-based recording which comes with some warranted privacy concerns. Even with local recording there are times when we might not want our cameras recording things.

Smart doorbell maker Ring is one of the most prominent cloud-based security camera brands, which means Ring devices record everything to Ring’s servers instead of on your local network. That fact gives plenty of legitimate cause for privacy concerns and is perhaps one reason that you’d want to be able to prevent a Ring device doing so under certain circumstances.

Originally, Ring did not provide any way to stop their cameras from recording everything they saw. Sure, you could turn of motion alerts about those events, but they would be recorded anyway. Thanks to ongoing pressure from privacy advocates and the general tech press, Ring has been compelled to up their software game and give more control back to us, the customers.

These methods apply to dedicated security cameras like the Ring Spotlight Cam, as well as the complete range of Ring doorbells.

How to turn off ring camera recording

There are two ways to turn off a Ring camera using the Ring app short of deactivating it completely and permanently removing it from your Ring account:

  1. Turn off Motion Detection for a specific camera as a temporary measure.

  2. Use the Modes feature to determine when motion detection and live view are available.

The first option is a good temporary measure but doesn’t prevent the use of Live View by anyone with shared access. Live view sessions will still be recorded automatically. If you want to block that as well, you’ll need to use the Modes method. Access to Modes is now limited to those with a Ring Protect subscription.

How to temporarily turn off a specific Ring camera

To just quickly prevent a single Ring camera from capturing motion events, use the camera device settings right from the dashboard.

  1. Open the Ring app.

  2. Tap the 3 lines in the top left corner to open the menu.

  3. Tap Devices.

  4. Tap the Ring camera to disable from the list.

  5. Tap the Motion Detection toggle on the right.

  6. Tap the Disable Motion Detection button on the pop-up warning to confirm.

  7. Tap Stop Recording on the confirmation screen.

Note that this setting will only disable motion recording. Users of the Ring app will still be able to access the Live View which will be recorded automatically to the camera’s timeline. To completely disable any chance of recording you’ll need to use the Modes method below.

Screenshot of the Ring app showing the motion detection toggle control

Turn off Motion Detection on the desired camera

Confirm that Modes will still change this setting

Screenshot of the Stop Motion Recording dialog box in the Ring app

Tap STOP RECORDING to turn it off

How to turn off camera recording with Modes

Thanks to the upgraded Modes feature in the Ring app, we can now completely prevent a camera from recording anything in each of the modes provided. There are three of these modes: Disarmed, Home, and Away.

We can set two options on each camera device for each of these modes, so that gives us some control over when particular settings are in effect as well. This is especially useful for privacy sensitive devices like the Ring Indoor Cam.

Per Camera Modes Settings

Motion Detection - This determines if a Ring camera will be triggered by motion and record an event. By turning this off we can not only prevent motion recording, but it also now disables the camera from taking periodic snapshots for the Timeline view, so it’s effectively off. No recording, no notifications, no snapshots.

Live View - With motion detection off we can still access the live view via the Ring app or Alexa app connected smart screens. Unlike other smart cameras, Ring cameras will record the live view session automatically for future reference. If we don’t want any recording at all then we need to turn this setting off as well, which will also prevent anyone viewing the camera.

With both of these settings off, the camera will not be able to stream anything in any way.

Steps to Change Ring Camera Mode Settings

  1. Open the Ring app.

  2. Tap the 3 lines in the top left corner to access the menu.

  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Tap Modes. Note: if you haven’t enabled the modes feature yet you’ll see Enable Modes instead. This will give you the option to use default settings or customize them. Use the default settings, and then change the ones you want to using this process.

  5. Tap the mode you wish to change (Disarmed, Home, or Away).

  6. Tap the Ring Camera you wish to turn off from the list.

  7. Tap the toggle switch next to Motion Detection and Live View to turn them off.

  8. Tap Save in the top right corner.

Once the modes are set up how you want, you can easily switch them using the Ring app control center on the Dashboard page. All three modes are shown as large buttons at the top of the screen, with quick links to other device controls below, followed by snapshots from each of your Ring cameras.

Screenshot of the Ring app showing the Modes settings option.

The Modes option under Settings

Screenshot of the Ring app showing choosing a mode to edit.

Select the Mode to edit

Turn off these two options for each camera

Shared User Access

But wait, if you’ve granted access to your Ring cameras to other people (such as members of the household), can’t they change the mode to re-enable these features? Yes, they can. But you as the owner of the Ring system will be notified when this happens.

You can prevent them doing that by using the overarching Shared User Access toggle. This is found at the bottom of the Mode Settings page. By turning this off you can prevent anyone but the primary user from changing modes which will leave your desired settings in place.

What about a motion schedule?

Under the settings for a Ring camera you can set up a motion schedule. This provides a way to mute motion alerts for set periods of time during the week and can be useful if there are specific periods where you get a lot of false positives (a troublesome shadow falling across the camera’s view at a certain time of day, for example).

Unfortunately, you can only turn off notifications, not recording. Ring videos will be recorded regardless, you just won’t get spammed with messages about it. Under those false positive scenarios this is a good thing as you’ll still have evidence if something does happen. I use these sparingly, but if you don’t want to restrict the motion trigger area or reduce the sensitivity for most of the time, then this can be a useful workaround.

Does turning off Wi-Fi disable a Ring camera?

Given the reliance we can develop in our security cameras it’s valid to ask “Can someone disable my Ring camera?”. Ring devices are pretty robust, and with battery-powered models they will keep working just fine even if someone cuts the charging cable. Turning off Wi-Fi will disable a Ring camera, though.

This is because Ring cameras do not have any local storage capability and must stream everything to the Ring cloud, or at least a Ring Alarm base station with the Ring Edge feature enabled. Without a good Wi-Fi connection they cannot connect to Ring’s servers to save video, stream live, or send notifications of any kind.

This is a pretty blunt way to turn off a Ring Video Doorbell or security camera as you’ll obviously take down every other device in the home as well, but it’s also a downside of cloud-based security cameras in general as you lose their protection completely if your Wi-Fi or internet goes offline.

In Summary

While you could previously only control motion alerts for Ring products, it is now possible to disable their streaming capability entirely with only a couple of settings by using the Modes feature. Of course, this also disables any notifications, so it’s not possible to prevent recording while still getting motion notifications.

This will prevent you using the Ring camera as a motion detector for any lighting automation you have set up using Ring smart lights, so that’s something to keep in mind when setting up your modes.

If you’d rather not mess with your Mode settings, you can always set a specific camera to be disabled temporarily if you just want some privacy for a particular period of time, just remember that Live View will still work, and to revert the settings afterwards so you don’t miss anything important. Can you turn Ring doorbell off now? Yes, thankfully you can.