Cameras and computers seem not to like each other. Ask any computer store what’s the most common issue customers experience, and they’ll likely tell you that it has something to do with cameras not working as they should.
Mac users have it a lot better than Windows and Linux users because most Mac-compatible cameras tend to work right out of the box without any configuration. Of course, the presence of the word most means that even the Mac users who stick to Apple-approved hardware can experience problems with cameras not working as they should.
This troubleshooting guide was created to help you get your Mac camera working correctly. Don’t be afraid to follow our advice even if you’ve never fixed a computer camera problem before; if you don’t deviate from our instructions, you have nothing to mess up.
At the end of this guide is a list of five best external Mac webcams which are guaranteed to work flawlessly with your Mac computer as soon as you plug them in.
Why Isn’t My Camera Working on My Mac
There are many potential reasons why your Mac camera isn’t working. Among them are mechanical and hardware problems, which are impossible to fix with software tweaks. If your camera is physically damaged, it needs to be replaced. Although you can order replacement Mac cameras from sites like eBay, we highly discourage you from attempting to perform a DIY repair unless you are certain that you know what you’re doing.
If you can’t be without your trusted Mac computer even for a few days and have someone replace the broken camera for you, an external webcam is a good way how to circumvent the problem.
How to Connect Camera on Mac
When connecting a camera to a Mac computer, you can simply connect the camera’s USB cable to any matching USB port on the Mac. Keep in mind that USB Type-A ports are not reversible, unlike USB Type-C ports, so the cable will only go in one way. If it doesn’t insert easily, don’t force it in — you could damage it. Instead, examine both the cable and the port and carefully try again.
Once connected, the camera should be immediately detected and ready for use. If it isn’t, you may need to download additional drivers from the website of the camera’s manufacturer.
How to Turn on Camera on Mac
If you’ve been searching how to enable camera on Mac but haven’t been able to find anything useful, that’s because the built-in iSight camera doesn’t have an on and off switch — neither physical nor software. The camera is activated by apps, such as the Photo Booth app.
To Turn on Camera on a Mac:
Open Finder on your Mac, click on the Applications folder, and select Photo Booth. As soon as Photo Booth starts, the LED next to the built-in iSight camera should turn on, informing you that the camera is activated.
How to Turn on Camera on Mac for Facetime
As you now know, Mac cameras activate automatically. However, the automatic activation process sometimes fails, leaving you without any obvious option how to turn on the camera manually.
To Turn on Camera on Mac for Facetime:
- Open Terminal from Applications > Utilities.
- Click inside the terminal window and type “sudo killall VDCAssistant” without the quotation marks.
- Hit Enter on your keyboard. You may be prompted for your admin password. If everything goes right, you won’t see any confirmation message. If an error occurs, you will see an error message in the terminal window.
- Open any app that uses the camera, such as Photo Booth, to confirm that the fix worked.
Skype Camera Not Working on Mac
If your Mac camera isn’t working when making Skype calls, the chances are that Skype is to blame. Make sure that you have the latest version. If you do and Skype still doesn’t work, reinstall the app.
If the problem still persists, apply the fix described in the previous chapter. Restart your Mac computer and test Skype again. Skype reinstall and the fix above should solve most issues with the iSight camera.
Third-party cameras are a different story, though. The sad fact is that some third-party cameras won’t work with Skype no matter what you do. That’s why you should always check for compatibility with Mac computers before you purchase any third-party accessory for your Mac.
Mac Camera Settings
macOS doesn’t come with a camera settings app. Most apps that use a webcam come with their own configuration options, which is likely the reason why Apple doesn’t bother including native camera settings into macOS.
There are, however, some third-party camera settings apps that provide access to various camera settings, such as brightness, contrast, saturation, white-balance, exposure time, and others. Webcam Settings is one such app.
Mac Camera Not Working: iSight Firmware Update
The iSight camera inside your Mac computer is controlled by firmware, which is a permanent software program that provides the necessary instructions for how the device communicates with computer hardware.
The firmware that controls the iSight camera should update automatically without your input, but you can also update it manually by downloading the iSight Updater. This easy-to-use utility will ensure that you’re using the latest iSight firmware available, which can be particularly useful if you have an old Mac computer that you don’t keep connected to the Internet.
Mac Camera Video Recovery
If you lose or accidentally delete video recordings made with your Mac camera, you can use data recovery software such as Disk Drill to get them back. All you need to do is download and install Disk Drill, select the storage device where the recordings were originally located and click on the Recover button.
Top 5 Best External Mac Webcams
Do you aspire to become a famous YouTuber, or do you simply want better image quality for more enjoyable video communication with friends and family? Then you need a great external Mac webcam.
1. Logitech C922 Pro Stream
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream is the new king of webcams for streaming. The camera is built with the Full HD resolution in mind, featuring the ability to capture high-definition content at 60 frames per second. It captures a 78-degree field of view and has a pair of high-fidelity microphones that provide fantastic audio quality. The Logitech C922 Pro Stream can automatically adjust to changing light conditions, consistently delivering vivid colors and producing well-exposed video footage. If you refuse to make any compromises and want to give your audiences the best image quality you can get, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream is an easy choice.
2. Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
The LifeCam HD-3000 is certified for Skype, and it works great on Mac computers. The camera offers excellent image and sound quality for a very affordable price, making it perfect for business calls and video conversations with friends and family. Because it doesn’t record in the Full HD resolution, we don’t recommend it to content creators who need the best image quality they can get. The LifeCam HD-3000 has an adjustable rubber base that allows you to securely mount it on any computer monitor or laptop without the camera obscuring your view.
3. Microsoft LifeCam Studio
The Microsoft LifeCam Studio is a popular Full HD webcam from Microsoft, aimed at content creators and demanding professionals and home users alike. It features TrueColor Technology for realistic image reproduction even in bad light conditions. The webcam has a high-fidelity microphone with intelligent noise reduction and it ships with a useful privacy cover. The base of the webcam has a tripod mount, allowing you to mount it on a standard tripod to capture different perspectives, which can come in handy during business meetings and multi-person phone conferences. The Microsoft LifeCam Studio is certified for Skype, and it works great on macOS.
4. Logitech C525
The Logitech C525 is one of the more affordable webcams from Logitech. This compact, 8 MP camera is intended for people who are always on the go and rarely talk with colleagues in person. Thanks to its foldable design, the camera can stay with you wherever you go and provide you with superior image quality no matter where you end up working from. It captures HD video footage, and its advanced autofocus is reliable even at night. The built-in Logitech RightSound microphone makes your voice clearer and the background noise less distracting.
5. Logitech C270
If you’re on a budget and need a reliable webcam with decent image and sound quality, the Logitech C270 is a great choice. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of more expensive webcams, it records decent video footage both during day and at night. Best of all, the Logitech C270 is very inexpensive, and you should be able to find it at your local computer store.