How to Group FaceTime

Get family and friends together for video calls

FaceTime is a great tool for friends, family, and coworkers for staying in touch, holding meetings, and collaborating on projects. Starting a FaceTime call with multiple people is easy, and there are several ways to do it: with the Messages app, the FaceTime iPhone or iPad app, or the FaceTime application on a Mac computer.

FaceTime allows for video and audio calls for up to 32 people at once.

Parent group chatting with two grandparents
Lifewire / Tim Liedtke

Instructions in this article apply to iOS 12.1.4 and later on iPhone 6s or later, iPad Pro or later, iPad Air 2 or later, iPad Mini 4 or later, or iPod touch (7th generation). Older iOS devices with iOS 12.1.4 and later can use Group FaceTime only for audio calls. These instructions also apply to macOS 10.14.3 Mojave or later and the 10.14.3 Supplemental Update.

How to Use Group FaceTime on iPhone or iPad

There are two ways to FaceTime with multiple people on an iPad or iPhone: through the FaceTime app and through the Messages app.

Use the FaceTime App

  1. Open FaceTime and select the Plus icon (+).

  2. In the To text field, select the Plus icon (+) to open your contacts. Browse through and select the contacts you want to add to the call. You can also manually enter phone numbers or email addresses to invite participants.

  3. Select Video to start a Group FaceTime video call, or choose Audio to make it an audio call.

    An iPhone showing how to add contacts and start a call in Facetime

Use the Messages App

  1. Open Messages and select the group conversation that you want to use for the video or audio FaceTime call.

    If there isn't a relevant group conversation to use, make a new one by composing a new text and adding the recipients to it. Send a text to this group to make it a viable starting point for a group FaceTime call.

  2. Tap the profile images or avatar icons at the top of the message. If it shows the number of people in the group without images, select that.

  3. Select FaceTime to start a Group FaceTime video call, or select audio to start a group audio call using FaceTime.

    An iPhone showing how to start a FaceTime call through the Messages app

How to Group FaceTime on a Mac

Starting a Group FaceTime call on a Mac computer is easy.

  1. Open the FaceTime app for macOS and sign in using your Apple ID.

  2. In the search field, enter the names of the people you want to add to the call. You can use their name, email, or phone number.

    On a version of macOS that is older than Mojave 10.14.3, you may not be able to add multiple participants to a FaceTime call.

    FaceTime for macOS with the search field highlighted
  3. Select either Video or Audio to start a FaceTime call.

    The FaceTime app for macOS with the Audio and Video Call buttons highlighted

Like on an iPhone and iPad, Mac users can also initiate a Group FaceTime call from the Messages app for macOS by using the Details screen.

The Messages app for macOS with the call buttons in the Details screen highlighted

How to Use FaceTime Filters

You can quickly and easily use filters to add a little pizzazz to your FaceTime calls.

  1. While in a call, tap anywhere on the screen, then select effects.

  2. Select the Filters icon, represented by overlapping red, green, and blue circles.

  3. Select a filter or swipe left to browse more options. The effect is applied to your image for the duration of the call.

    A FaceTime call on an iPhone with the Effects and Filters buttons highlighted and an arrow indicating swiping through different options

How to Switch Which Person You are Watching on FaceTime

In a one-on-one FaceTime call, your image is displayed in a picture-in-picture window or tile, while the other caller is displayed in the main window. In a group call, the tile of the person speaking expands automatically, helping you to see the speaker better and follow the conversation.

FaceTime knows which tile to expand by monitoring the volume input of callers. Currently, there is no way to expand the tiles of various participants manually; the user must speak or make noise for their tile to expand.

Group FaceTime Alternatives

Some platforms, like Windows, don't support FaceTime. If your device does not support FaceTime calls or will not start a Group FaceTime video or audio call, there are alternative apps that support group calling.

Many of these alternatives work on Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, among others, and these are usually cross-platform. That means that someone with an Android tablet, for example, can call a person with a Windows or iOS device.

Here are some examples:

  • Facebook Messenger: See up to 6 people at once, but include up to 250.
  • Google Hangouts: Group calls are limited to 10 people.
  • Snapchat: Group calls are limited to 16 people.
  • Skype: Group calls are limited to 50 people.
  • Viber: Group calls are limited to 5 people.
  • WeChat: Group calls are limited to 9 people.
  • Zoom: Group calls of up to 100 people.