Why Isn't FaceTime Working When I Make Calls?

The FaceTime video calling feature 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 looking at the person you're talking to.

But what if it's not that simple and you're not seeing anything at all? Here are some common issues that prevent 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 as active, show up as an option when you make a call, or let you receive calls, these 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. Scroll down to FaceTime. Move the FaceTime slider to on/green.

  2. Missing Phone Number or Email Address: No one can call you if you don't have a phone number. FaceTime works the same way. You need to have a phone number or email address set up for FaceTime that people can use 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, checked in the You Can Be Reached By FaceTime At section. If you don't, add them.

  3. 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.

  4. The person you're calling needs FaceTime, too: If you're calling someone on an older iPhone or another kind of smartphone, FaceTime won't be an option. The person you're calling needs to have FaceTime set up on their device in order 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, or a modern Mac. 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 Android or Windows (though there are many FaceTime alternatives that work with those operating systems), so friends and family on those platforms can't FaceTime, either.

  5. Users could be blocked: You can block people from calling, texting, and FaceTiming you. 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. There 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 and you'll be ready to chat.

  6. Your phone company must support it: If you're trying to make a FaceTime call over 3G or 4G (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.

    Your iPhone model needs to support FaceTime, too. The iPhone 3GS and 3G don't.

  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 this, go to Settings, then tap on General, and tap on Restrictions. If Restrictions are turned on, you'll be asked for a passcode. Enter it, if you know it, and look 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.

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.

If you meet these requirements, you should be able to have a video 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.