How to Test the Camera on a Mac Device

Every Apple laptop computer and some desktop versions are equipped with iSight. This is a camera feature, built into the device that allows the user to make video calls, take photos, and directly record video onto your Mac.

How to Test the Camera on a Mac Device

Before making a video call or planning a video recording session, you might want to make sure the camera works properly. There is a way to test the camera and check it to see what might be causing a potential issue with it.

Here’s how to enable and test your Mac webcam and some cool tips regarding the subject.

How to Enable and Test the Webcam on a Mac

The best way to see whether the Mac camera is active is to look for a small LED green light next to it. The built-in camera itself is located above your device’s screen. If the LED light isn’t active, it doesn’t mean that the camera is malfunctioning – it means that it’s not active and not recording or streaming a live feed.

There’s no manual, hardware way to turn the iSight camera on. The only way to do so is to open an app that uses it. Note that there isn’t an iSight app, either.

Enabling the Camera

To enable the camera and check whether it’s performing optimally, you have to know which apps use it. There are two apps that you’ll find on your Mac by default that use iSight: FaceTime and PhotoBooth. Enabling any of the two apps will engage the camera. You’ll see a green LED light up and, if everything is working correctly, you should see yourself using either of the two.

You can also enable the camera using online apps such as Facebook Messenger. No need to make a video call to check whether the camera is working. Go to or, navigate to any chat (you can use the one with yourself), and click the plus icon next to where you’d type a message. Then, select the camera icon from the list of options that pop up. The camera should activate.

Other apps will work, as well. As long as you know that the app uses iSight, it can be used to check whether the feature is functioning correctly.

If, for any reason, the camera isn’t showing anything and/or the green LED isn’t lighting up, your camera is likely malfunctioning.


There are multiple potential reasons why your camera might not be working correctly. But first, let’s try a couple of easy solutions that won’t take up too much of your time, and yet may fix the problem.

Software Conflicts

You might not be aware of it, but the iSight feature works on one application at a time. So, no, you can’t run multiple apps that use the feature and expect them all to show your camera feed. If, for instance, you’ve opened the PhotoBooth feature, it will start using the camera. Now, try and run the FaceTime app, and you’ll see that the camera isn’t working.

A quick solution here is closing the app that you aren’t using. If the camera is still not working, close all apps and run the one that you want to use the iSight feature on. If you’re still having trouble getting your video feed within the desired app, try each app that uses the feature to see whether the issue is app-specific. If it works in other apps but doesn’t in the one that you want to use now, reinstall it. This should solve the problem.

Check Whether Mac Recognizes the Camera

There might be a communication problem between your iSight feature and your Mac computer. To see whether the camera is correctly recognized by your computer, go to the Finder feature on the Dock, followed by Utilities.

Then, select the System Profiler icon. Under Hardware, go ahead and click USB. You should see the Built-in iSight entry appear in the USB High-Speed Bus section.

If there’s no such entry here, the problem is in the communication between your Mac and the iSight feature. Fortunately, a quick system reboot will solve the issue. Restart your device and check whether the iSight feature is working.

System Management Controller Reset

If a computer restart and an app reinstall didn’t solve the problem, you might need to reset the SMC, also known as the System Management Controller.

But what is the SMC? Well, it’s a feature that deals with simple functions, such as ambient light setting, thermal, and battery management.

If the SMC isn’t working properly, odd issues can occur, such as iSight failures in some apps. Before going ahead to reset the SMC, make sure that you’ve closed all apps, especially ones that aren’t responding. The best way to go is to perform a system reboot before proceeding with the SMC reset.

Then, press Shift(on the left)+Control+Option+Power keys at the same time. Wait a couple of seconds, then release. This will shut your Mac down and perform an automatic SMC reset. Once the process is complete, turn your Mac back on, and check to see whether the iSight feature is working properly in all apps.

Contact Support

If none of the above-outlined methods have managed to help you solve the problem, you might want to take a different path. If you’ve recently bought the device and the issue is persistent, contact your retailer and ask for a device replacement. Explain the situation to them and follow their instructions.

If your iSight feature has been working perfectly up to this point but has now started causing problems, contact Apple support. They’ll be more than happy to help you solve your problem. You can rest assured that, one way or another, your problem will be fixed.

iSight Tips

Although using the iSight feature is fairly simple and straightforward, there are a couple of tips that can help you avoid potential problems and boost your overall experience.

Take Note of the LED

The green LED indicator isn’t there for show. It tells you when your camera is on. This is mostly there so that you know if there’s any malware accessing your camera and compromising your privacy. However, it can also be used as an indicator as to whether or not you’ve properly closed the app that uses the camera.

If you think that you’ve closed the app properly and the green LED is still on, you haven’t. Check to see whether the app is minimized in the Dock. It might not be responding, so you should make sure that it’s properly closed. When the green LED is off, you should know that you can use iSight with other apps.

Use Oversight

Apps like Oversight are there for the sole purpose of telling you when your iSight feature and the microphone are active. The app also tells you which apps are using your camera/mic features. Although protecting your privacy is the main goal of this app, it has proven to be pretty neat for telling which apps are in conflict regarding iSight. Oversight works on OS X10.10 or higher versions.

Additional FAQs

Here are some FAQs that might help you deal with any iSight problems that you might be experiencing.

1. How do I disable the camera permanently?

You might not want to use the iSight feature at all. This might be because of security concerns, or it might be because you don’t need the feature cluttering your Mac environment. Don’t worry, you can disable the camera on your Mac computer, permanently. Well, until you choose to revert it, that is.

The best and most fool-proof way to do this is to duct-tape it. Yes, use a black piece of thick duct tape, and no cybercriminal will be able to access your camera feed.

There’s also a software solution that can help here but, bear in mind, a well-versed hacker who knows about this method will be able to quickly revert it once they gain control over your Mac. There is an app called iSight Disabler, located on the dedicated website and on GitHub. Download the app, follow the developer’s instructions, and you’ll be able to disable the iSight feature altogether.

2. Why isn’t my camera working on my Mac?

Well, as outlined above, there could be multiple reasons behind this. It might be a software conflict, poor communication between hardware components, or a glitch that can be solved with a System Management Controller Reset. If none of the methods work, again, contact your retailer or Apple tech support itself.

3. Is there a physical switch for the camera on my Mac?

Unfortunately, not only is there no physical iSight switch on Mac devices, but there isn’t an official software override, either. If you want to turn the camera off, you should try the iSight Disabler app, as explained above.


The green LED is the best indicator of whether the iSight camera on your Mac is on. However, the green indicator doesn’t mean that everything is working properly. Follow the above-outlined steps to try and fix the iSight issue that you’re experiencing on your own. If none of the methods work, don’t refrain from contacting the professionals.

We hope that this entry has helped you solve all your iSight issues. If not, scroll down to the comments section and see whether someone has offered a different solution for you to try. Don’t refrain from engaging in the conversation, either; our community is more than happy to help.

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