How to turn on any Mac computer's built-in camera, or troubleshoot it if it's not working


Reuters/Robert Galbraith

Your Mac computer's camera should turn on automatically when you open any video or photo-related app.

  • Every MacBook and many Mac computers have a camera built into them, but for first-time owners, figuring out how to turn on the camera on a Mac might be a challenge.
  • You can turn on and use a Mac's built-in camera by opening any app to make video calls, record movie clips, or take still photos.
  • When the camera is on, a green light will be illuminated next to it, helping remind you that your actions may be recorded.
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Your MacBook laptop has a pretty decent camera tucked into the top of its screen, considering the lens is so small you can't see it without leaning in for a close look.

If you have a regular MacBook, your computer comes with a 480p camera. But if you have a MacBook Pro, your laptop comes with a higher-definition 720p camera.
Fortunately, a little green light lights up next to the Mac's camera when it's switched on, so you should be spared any awkward accidental recordings or shared video clips. (Though if you're worried about privacy, remember that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently puts tape over his laptop's camera.)

Check out the products used in this article:

MacBook (From $1,299 at Apple)

How to turn on the camera on a Mac computer

Turning on the camera on a Mac is easy: just start using an app that calls for photo or video.

These include Photo Booth, FaceTime, Skype, and others. When you commence a Skype call or FaceTime session, or when you open the Photo Booth app, the camera will switch on automatically.

Screen Shot 2019 06 19 at 11.17.10 AM

Steven John/Business Insider

Apps like Photo Booth will turn on your camera automatically.

Close the program that's using the camera, and it will turn off. And if you shut down an app and still see that green light shining, make sure there are not other programs open that also use the camera.

How to troubleshoot a Mac camera that won't turn on

If your Mac camera is not turning on like it should when you launch an app, the first thing to do is try a different program. If the camera comes on with the other program, then try uninstalling and reinstalling the app that gave you trouble.

If the camera is not coming on with any app, check your system preferences to make sure you don't have its permissions denied. And finally, shut down the computer and then turn it back on.

If that still fails, it's time to head to the Apple store or some other licensed service shop.

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