How to Turn on the Camera on Your Mac

Learn how to use your Mac's built-in webcam

What to Know

  • Open any app that uses the camera, such as PhotoBooth or FaceTime.
  • You'll see a green light above your monitor indicating that the camera is on.
  • You can only activate the iSight camera by opening an app. It won't turn on unless an app is using it.

This article explains how to turn on the camera on a Mac. Instructions apply to devices with macOS 10.10 and later.

How to Enable the Camera on Mac

Follow the steps below to use a Mac app to turn on your computer's iSight camera.

  1. In the Finder, open the Applications folder.

    If the Applications folder isn't in your side menu, you can reach it by following the path Macintosh HD > Users > [your account name] > Applications.

    The Applications folder
  2. Select an app that uses the iSight camera. PhotoBooth and FaceTime support it.

    You can also select another app you've downloaded from the Mac App Store that you already know uses the iSight camera.

    Mac Applications folder with FaceTime and Photo Booth highlighted
  3. As soon as you open PhotoBooth, FaceTime, or another iSight compatible app, the iSight camera activates. You'll know it's on and working when you see the green indicator light above your monitor.

    The green light doesn't necessarily mean the iSight camera is recording anything, but it is active. Now it's ready for when you decide to take photos, record a video, or video chat with somebody.

Tips for Using Your Mac's iSight Camera

Apple's iMac, MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers incorporate a camera at the top of the display. This device is called the iSight camera, which has a small, green indicator light to the right of it that turns on when the camera is activated. You can only activate the iSight camera by opening an application that uses it. In other words, you can't just decide to turn the iSight camera on or off on its own.

Using the iSight camera is straightforward, but here are a few tips to make your photo or video experience even better:

  • Minimize the app to access other programs while keeping the iSight camera ready. Select the yellow minimize button in the top left corner of an app to temporarily tuck it away without closing it or turning the camera off.
  • Look for the green indicator light to go off when closing the app to turn the iSight camera off. If the green indicator light is still on, you haven't properly closed the app, and the iSight camera is still on. The app might be minimized in the Dock, or it might be somewhere on the desktop hiding behind other windows.
  • Use another app to notify you when apps are using your iSight camera. For example, download Oversight, which can tell you when your iSight camera and microphone are active, plus which applications are using it. Oversight works on all Macs running OS X 10.10 and later.
  • Keep iSight compatible apps in the Dock for easy access. Instead of going to your Applications folder to open an iSight app, add the app to your Dock to select it and open it from there. Open the app, right-click the app icon in the Dock, roll your cursor over Options, and click Keep in Dock.
  • Why is my MacBook Pro camera so grainy?

    Make sure your camera isn't covered in fingerprints or smudged. Good lighting and placement are crucial to a clearer video. Confirm the DPI your camera can capture; if it's lower than 1080p, it may not be able to have a sharper image.

  • How do I adjust camera settings on my MacBook Pro?

    There aren't any built-in apps to adjust settings. You can change privacy settings by going to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy > Camera > allow or block camera access for specific apps. For settings such as brightness and contrast, use the app Webcam Settings purchased on the App Store.

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