How to Test the Camera on a Mac Device

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

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

Here’s how to enable and testyour 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 wayto turn the iSight camera on. The only way to do so is to open an app that usesit. Note that there isn’t an iSight app, either.

Enabling the Camera

To enable the camera and checkwhether it’s performing optimally, you have to know which apps use it. Thereare two apps that you’ll find on your Mac by default that use iSight: FaceTimeand PhotoBooth. Enabling any of the two apps will engage the camera. You’ll seea green LED light up and, if everything is working correctly, you should seeyourself using either of the two.

You can also enable the camerausing online apps such as Facebook Messenger. No need to make a video call tocheck whether the camera is working. Go to or,navigate to any chat (you can use the one with yourself), and click the plusicon next to where you’d type a message. Then, select the camera icon from thelist 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 whetherthe feature is functioning correctly.

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


There are multiple potentialreasons why your camera might not be working correctly. But first, let’s try acouple of easy solutions that won’t take up too much of your time, and yet mayfix 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’trun multiple apps that use the feature and expect them all to show your camerafeed. If, for instance, you’ve opened the PhotoBooth feature, it will startusing the camera. Now, try and run the FaceTime app, and you’ll see that thecamera 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 deviceand 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’sa feature that deals with simple functions, such as ambient light setting, thermal,and battery management.

If the SMC isn’t workingproperly, odd issues can occur, such as iSight failures in some apps. Beforegoing ahead to reset the SMC, make sure that you’ve closed all apps, especiallyones that aren’t responding. The best way to go is to perform a system reboot beforeproceeding with the SMC reset.

Then, press Shift(on the left)+Control+Option+Powerkeys at the same time. Wait a couple of seconds, then release. This will shutyour 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 workingproperly in all apps.

Contact Support

If none of the above-outlinedmethods have managed to help you solve the problem, you might want to take adifferent path. If you’ve recently bought the device and the issue is persistent,contact your retailer and ask for a device replacement. Explain the situationto 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 iSightfeature is fairly simple and straightforward, there are a couple of tips thatcan help you avoid potential problems and boost your overall experience.

Take Note of the LED

The green LED indicator isn’tthere for show. It tells you when your camera is on. This is mostly there sothat you know if there’s any malware accessing your camera and compromisingyour privacy. However, it can also be used as an indicator as to whether or notyou’ve properly closed the app that uses the camera.

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

Use Oversight

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

Additional FAQs

Here are some FAQs that mighthelp 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 theiSight feature at all. This might bebecause of security concerns, or it might be because you don’t need the featurecluttering your Mac environment. Don’t worry, you can disable the camera on yourMac computer, permanently. Well, until you choose to revert it, that is.

The best and most fool-proofway 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 couldbe multiple reasons behind this. It might be a software conflict, poorcommunication between hardware components, or a glitch that can be solved witha 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 isthere no physical iSight switch on Mac devices, but there isn’t an official softwareoverride, either. If you want to turn the camera off, you should try the iSightDisabler app, as explained above.


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

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

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