What to Do When Your Mac Camera is Not Working

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Many of Apple’s desktops and laptops include a built-in webcam, which the company cheerfully calls a FaceTime camera. However, if your mac webcam is not working, and displays as disconnected or unavailable when attempting to access it, you might not feel so cheery. Here's what you can do to try and get it back up and running.

  1. Check for applications using the camera. Typically, only a single Mac app can utilize the camera at a time. Ensure the application you're trying to use isn’t being denied access to the camera because something else is utilizing it at the present moment. You can attempt to fix this issue by closing all other open applications that might be using the camera. Some example apps include FaceTime, Skype, and Photo Booth.

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    If you aren’t sure which applications might be accessing your camera, save your work, then close all open apps to rule everything out.

  2. Restart the computer. You can perform a restart by heading to the Apple Menu in the upper left-hand corner of your Mac’s screen and clicking the Restart option. If any processes are using the camera in the background, a restart may fix the issue, providing you full access to the camera once again. Once the computer is back on, check to see if your webcam is functioning in a normal manner.

  3. Reset your Mac’s system controller. This might sound a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry. If your Mac’s webcam isn’t performing as it should, you can reset what's known as the System Management Controller (SMC). The SMC controls many of the hardware functions of your Mac, and rebooting it may serve as a solution to your problems.

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    Reset a MacBook SMC

    If you have a MacBook computer, here is how you go about resetting your SMC.

    1. Start by shutting down your MacBook by heading to the Apple Menu in the upper left-hand corner of your Mac’s screen and clicking the Shut Down option.
    2. Ensure your MacBook's power adapter is attached to the computer.
    3. On the MacBook's keyboard, hold down Shift+Control+Options keys simultaneously, then turn the power on to start the computer.
    4. After powering on the machine, keep the Shift, Control, and Option keys all held down at the same time.
    5. Allow thirty-seconds to pass before releasing the keys, allowing the Mac to boot as normal.
    6. Once your computer starts up, check to see if you now have access to your camera.

    Reset an iMac, Mac Pro, or Mac Mini SMC

    If you have a Mac desktop, here is how you go about resetting your SMC.

    1. Start by shutting down your Mac by heading to the Apple Menu in the upper left-hand corner of your Mac’s screen and clicking the Shut Down option
    2. Disconnect the power cord from your Mac.
    3. Hold down your Mac’s power button for thirty seconds.
    4. Release the power button, reattach your power cable, and boot your Mac as normal.
    5. Once your computer starts up, check to see if you now have access to your camera.
  4. Go to an Apple Technician. If none of the proposed solutions above can restore your Mac’s webcam, locate an Apple Store or authorized Apple technician to have your Mac serviced. Apple Stores offer free technical support at their in-store Genius Bar. We recommend making an appointment online at Apple’s support website so you’ll have a much shorter wait time to see a technician when you arrive at the store.

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    If you can’t make an appointment online, Apple Stores generally accept walk-in appointments but wait times can vary from only a few minutes to a few hours.

  5. Call Apple Support. An alternative to going to an Apple Store, contact Apple’s telephone-based support to seek out a solution without the need to leave your home.