GoPro Stealth Modes

If you'd prefer your GoPro not to draw attention to itself while filming, there are several options for making it more discreet.

There are many situations where you might not want your GoPro to draw attention to itself. You might be filming a theatrical performance or wildlife and don’t want the beeps to be disruptive. Or you might not want the flashing LED lights telegraphing that you’re recording.

One interesting use I heard about was that the visual effects team of the latest Blade Runner movie used GoPros hidden on the sets to provide alternate views to the action that they used as visual references to help render their realistic CGI, a method called using witness cameras.

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With the new HERO9 Black just released, GoPro is running a great deal on the previous model, the HERO8 Black. You can get it for $299.98, and that includes a 1-year subscription to GoPro as well as a 32GB SD card.

The subscription to GoPro gives you unlimited cloud storage, discounted no-questions-asked camera replacement, and up to 50% off GoPro accessories.

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Whatever your reason, there are ways to make GoPros more discreet than with their usual beeps and flashing lights.

Older models, like the HERO4 Black and Silver, as well as the HERO3 and HERO3+ models, had a dedicated Blackout Housing for this very purpose. Finished in matte black and covering over the LED lights, it’s another alternative to the Standard Housing and makes for a very simple solution to put those cameras into stealth mode.

GoPro Blackout Housing for HERO3+ (Camera not included)
  • Matte Black Finish: Ensures low visibility and reduces light reflection for low-profile shooting
  • Waterproof to 131'/40m: Protects your camera below and above water.

Newer models tackle things a bit differently. Their integrated case offers protection for a wide range of uses without the need for a separate housing, and it’s also finished in a matte dark gray. While it would still be possible to use a separate blacked out housing with these newer models, there’s less market for separate housings, and I’ve not come across any instances of aftermarket manufacturers seeing a viable market for such a product. Although there’s obviously nothing stopping you from doing a simply DIY version by simply painting a Protective Housing black.

But the good news is that, at least with several models, GoPro stepped up and included options to make the camera more discreet right within the camera’s settings accessed through the menu system.

There are three main settings I’m focusing on here. The first is the camera beep you get when you press buttons or when the camera starts and stops recording or is about to power off. This is always one of the first things I do when firing up a new GoPro regardless of how I’m using it. Or most cameras, for that matter–I’m just not a fan of feedback beeps. But you’ll definitely want to do it for any situation where being quiet is important, like a musical performance or for filming wildlife.

The second batch of settings involve the LEDs on the camera body that give you the status, such as a red flashing LED when recording or a blue led when connected wirelessly. On some models, you can disable these completely or disable just the front-facing ones.

The third set of settings applies to the newer models that include a built-in touch screen on the back. While you can’t disable the back screen completely, you can do two things to minimize their use. One is to use a short time for the screen saver to be activated–usually 1 minute. The other is to reduce the brightness down to the minimum (10%).

One thing you can’t turn off is the front screen on those models that have one. But a simple workaround for that is the hands-on route of covering it with an adhesive LED cover or a small piece of vinyl electrical tape or gaffer tape.

HERO9 Black Stealth Mode Settings

Here’s a quick rundown of settings you can use to enable stealth mode recording on the HERO9 Black. It’s quite similar to the HERO8, with the exception of more options for the new full-color front screen.

Turn Off the Beeps

The default setting for the beeps is High.

On-Camera Settings: Slide down to pull down the icon dashboard. Tap the musical note icon to toggle the beeps on and off.

Turn Off the Lights

On the HERO9 Black, you can set it to have all the LEDs on, only the front LEDs on, or turn all the LEDs off. The front-only LEDs option can be useful if you’re filming from behind the camera and still want to be able to see the status lights from there but don’t want them to be visible from in front of the camera.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > General > LEDs > All Off

Turn off the Back Screen

You can’t disable the back screen touch display completely on the HERO9 Black, but you can minimize the time it stays on by reducing the screensave time to 1 minute.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > Touch Screen > Screen Saver > 1 MIN

If you like, you can also turn the Brightness down, although you can’t go all the way to black—the minimum setting is 10%. This has the side benefit of helping maximize battery life.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > Touch Display > Brightness > Slider 10%

Turn off the Front Screen

You can turn the front screen off completely.

On-Camera Settings: Swipe down to bring down the icon dashboard. On the bottom row, second from left, is the front screen icon. It changes depending on what setting you’re using. It might be a square with a cross (off), a square with “01” (status screen), a square with thick white borders (full-frame view), or a square with a person icon (cropped view). Whichever it is, tap on that icon to pull up the options and then choose the one with the X.

HERO8 Black Stealth Mode Settings

Here’s a quick rundown of settings you can use to enable stealth mode recording on the HERO8 Black.

Turn Off the Beeps

The default setting for the beeps is High.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > General > Beep Volume > Mute

Turn Off the Lights

On the HERO8 Black, you can set it to have all the LEDs on, only the front LEDs on, or turn all the LEDs off. The front-only LEDs option can be useful if you’re filming from behind the camera and still want to be able to see the status lights from there but don’t want them to be visible from in front of the camera.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > General > LEDs > All Off

Turn off the Back Screen

You can’t disable the back screen touch display completely on the HERO8 Black, but you can minimize the time it stays on by reducing the screensave time to 1 minute.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > Touch Screen > Screen Saver > 1 MIN

If you like, you can also turn the Brightness down, although you can’t go all the way to black—the minimum setting is 10%. This has the side benefit of helping maximize battery life.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > Touch Display > Brightness > Slider 10%

HERO7 Stealth Mode Settings

Here’s how you can enable stealth mode recording on the HERO7 cameras. These settings are available on all three models in the HERO7 lineup: Black, Silver, and White.

Turn Off the Beeps

The default setting for the beeps is High.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > General > Beep Volume > Off

Turn Off the Lights

On the HERO7 Black, you can set it to have all the LEDs on, only the front LEDs on, or turn all the LEDs off.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > General > LEDs > All Off

HERO5/6 Black and HERO5 Session Stealth Mode

Here’s a quick rundown of settings you can use to enable stealth mode recording on the HERO5 Black and HERO6 Black using both the on-camera menu system and the GoPro mobile app.

Turn Off the Beeps

On-Camera Settings ((HERO5/6 Black only): Preferences > Beep Volume > Off

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > Beeps > Mute

Turn off the Lights

This sets which LEDs will blink while recording and in response to button pushes. You can choose to have both front and back LEDs on, just the back one on, or both of them off (you can’t have just the front LED on).

On-Camera Settings (HERO5/6 Black only): Preferences > LED > ALL OFF

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > LED > OFF

Turn off the Back Screen

This only applies to the HERO5/6 Black models, obviously. You can’t actually disable the back screen touch display completely, but you can minimize the time it stays on by reducing the screensave time to 1 minute.

On-Camera Settings (HERO5 Black only): Preferences > Touch Display > Screensaver > 1 MIN

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > Screensave > 1 MIN

If you like, you can also turn the Brightness down, although you can’t go all the way to black—the minimum setting is 10%.

On-Camera Settings: Preferences > Touch Display > Brightness > Slider to 10%

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > LCD Brightness > Slider to 10%

Turn off the Top Screen

HERO5 Session only. There’s no way to turn off the small two-line screen on top of the HERO5 Session, so you’ll need to use some kind of adhesive cover.

HERO Session and HERO4 Session Stealth Mode

As I’ve noted before, it’s not coincidence that the HERO Session and HERO4 Session seem similar–they’re the same camera. So they share basically the same settings options which are, in turn, slightly different to the models above. With these models, you’ll need to use the GoPro mobile app; you can’t adjust these settings on the camera itself.

Turn Off the Beeps

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > Beeps > OFF

Turn Off the Lights

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > LED Blink > OFF

Note that this does turn off both the red feedback LED and the blue flashing LED that indicates that that the wifi function option is on. If the blue light keeps flashing, check that you’re using the current firmware; some earlier versions turned the red LED off but not the blue one.

Turn off the Top LED Screen

There’s no way to turn off the small LED screen on the Session models, so you’ll need to go with the adhesive tape method (see above).

HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver Stealth Mode

Both of these cameras have a silver-grey case, so they don’t have the benefit of the matt black finish of newer models. But you can put these models in a Blackout Housing which adds the discreet black finish while retaining the rugged protection of the standard housing. It also obscures the LEDs and comes with a self-adhesive cover for the front screen. If you don’t see the options below, make sure you’re using the current firmware–some of them weren’t available in previous versions of the firmware.

Turn Off the Beeps

On-Camera Settings: Settings > Beeps > OFF

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > Beeps > OFF

Turn Off the Lights

On-Camera Settings: Settings > LEDs > OFF

GoPro Mobile App: Settings > Setup > LED Blink > OFF

Turn Off the Back Screen

HERO4 Silver only. Next to the bottom left corner of the back screen there’s a small, barely-noticeable button. That toggles the screen on and off. There’s no way to turn the screen off in the settings, as such. There is an option for toggling the on-screen display, but that only applies to the information display, not the screen itself.

Other Options

If you’re using the HERO4 Black, HERO4 Silver, or earlier models, the Blackout Housing is a good option. It provides basically the same protection as the Standard Housing, including being waterproof.

Another option is a silicone skin. They cling snugly to the camera. They don’t offer much protection, and most of the don’t include a mounting point, but they can obscure lights and make the camera less visually conspicuous. GoPro doesn’t itself make a skin, but you can pick them up from third-party manufacturers. Just be sure to check that it does what you want–each is a little different. For instance, some go directly on the camera body while others are designed to go over a frame.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2020-10-19 at 23:19. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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This post was last modified on October 5, 2020 10:29 am

View Comments

  • I'm not aware of a way to do that and haven't been able to find any information on it online. One workaround hack might be to use a frame or housing that doesn't have cutouts for the buttons, or get one of the clear waterproof housings and remove the spring for the buttons (or glue them open). None of these would completely prevent disabling the camera--nor simply blocking the lens, of course--but it would slow down the process. They're also the types of things that can come in useful when curious toddlers get their hands on the camera...

  • Is there a way to prevent someone from stopping my video from recording even if they push the button on top or side? Hero 6 Black I heard there was a GoPro that had a combination of sorts to prevent it from being turned off. Using for recording police and don't want them to be able to easily stop my recording. Thanks

  • Hello,
    I wrote asking about printing problems earlier. Well I found that something got ahold of both of my browsers and had changed the scaling. There are no issues on your end. Sorry for the bother.
    Thanks again for the great work on your website.

  • HERO4 Session firmware V 1.0 could be hacked to turn the screen OFF while recording.
    too bad I upgraded...

  • I have the Hero5 Session, and the "On-Camera Settings" above aren't correct. There is no "Preferences" menu on the Hero5 Session. You are required to use their mobile app on a newer mobile device to access most of the settings, such as anything you list under Preferences. It's extremely frustrating.

    • Right. As I note, the on-camera option for these isn't available on the HERO5 Session. I've now added some notes to make that clearer.

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