Why Isn't FaceTime Working When I Make Calls?

FaceTime is one of the flashiest and most exciting features of the iOS and Mac platforms. As Apple likes to demonstrate, it's as simple as tapping the FaceTime icon when making a call and suddenly you're having a video chat with the person you're talking to.

But what if it's not that simple and FaceTime is not working for outgoing or incoming calls? Here are some common issues that stop FaceTime from working and how to fix them.

Why FaceTime Isn't Working When You Make Calls

Illustration of four things to check when FaceTime fails
Lifewire / Derek Abella

Whether the problem you're facing is that the FaceTime button doesn't light up so you can use it, doesn't appear as an option at all when you make a call, or you can't receive calls, these issues could be the culprit:

  1. FaceTime has to be turned on: In order to use FaceTime, it must be enabled (If you turned it on when you set up your device, you shouldn't need to worry about this, but if FaceTime isn't working, check this setting). Do this by tapping the Settings app, then scroll down to FaceTime, and move the FaceTime slider to on/green.

  2. The person you're calling needs FaceTime, too: If you're calling who has an iPhone that doesn't support FaceTime (such as the iPhone 3G or 3GS), FaceTime isn't an option. The person you're calling needs to have FaceTime available and set up on their device to video chat with you using it. This means they need an iPhone 4 or higher, a 4th generation iPod touch or newer, an iPad 2 or newer, a modern Mac, or an Android phone. All of those devices have a user-facing camera, which is required to allow the person you're calling to see you. There is no version of FaceTime for Windows.

  3. Missing Phone Number or Email Address: No one can call you if you don't have a phone number. That's true for any phone, and FaceTime works the same way. You need to use a phone number or email address with FaceTime for people to reach you. You do this when you set up your device, but if this info gets deleted or unchecked, it can cause problems. Go to Settings > FaceTime and make sure that you have a phone number or email address or both. Look in the You Can Be Reached By FaceTime At section. If you don't, add them.

  4. You need to be connected to a network: If your device isn't connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network, you won't be able to use FaceTime. So, make sure you're not in Airplane Mode and that you're connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.

    If FaceTime isn't working when you use the Phone app, you can also try the standalone FaceTime app that comes on iOS 7 and up.

  5. Users could be blocked: You can block people from calling, texting, and FaceTiming you. This is great for stopping spam or telemarketers, but could be why you're not getting FaceTimes. If you're not able to FaceTime someone, or can't receive their calls, you may have blocked them (or vice versa). Check by going to Settings > FaceTime > Blocked Contacts. You'll see a list of anyone whose calls you've blocked. If the person you want to FaceTime is there, simply remove them from your Blocked list (by swiping right to left and tapping Unblock) and you'll be ready to chat.

  6. Your phone company must support it: If you're trying to make a FaceTime call over cellular (rather than Wi-Fi), your phone company needs to support FaceTime. Virtually every phone company that sells the iPhone supports it, but if all the other suggestions on this list aren't the cause, it's worth considering this one. Check to see if your carrier supports it.

  7. FaceTime app is missing: If FaceTime is missing from your device entirely, it could be that the app has been turned off using Content Restrictions. To check if it's blocked, go to Settings > General > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions. If Restrictions are turned on, you'll be asked for a passcode. Enter it and look in the Allowed Apps section for the FaceTime or Camera options (turning off Camera also turns off FaceTime). If a restriction is turned on for either one, turn it off by moving the slider to white/off.

    The FaceTime app could also be missing because it was deleted. In that case, you can redownload it for free from the App Store.

If you meet these requirements, you should be able to have a FaceTime call in no time. If you meet the requirements and none of these steps help, you may have other issues with your phone or network connection that need to be investigated. You may also want to contact Apple to get expert support.

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