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Mac camera not working?

For many, the built-in camera on Macs is now one of the most vital pieces of kit. It allows you to record videos, take pictures, and stream videos. It’s commonly used with the built-in FaceTime app or third-party apps like Zoom. Without a camera, life would become pretty frustrating.

Fortunately, nearly all Macs come with robust built-in cameras (only Mac Pro and Mac Mini don’t come with cameras). Usually, these cameras perform without any issues. However, your Mac’s camera may stop working at times. We’ve put together some quick fixes to get your Mac camera running again in no time.

We’ll run through the following common issues:

  • Apps need permission to use the camera
  • Too many apps trying to access the camera
  • An issue with a third-party app

We’ll also give you an extra tip to use if your camera stops working with FaceTime.

Apps need permission to use the camera

More recent versions of macOS require you to grant apps permission to use the built-in camera. You can check which apps have permission, and choose to grant access or remove it, by following the relevant instructions below.

Grant apps permission in Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, or Mojave

To check if an app you’re trying to use has permission to use the camera, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the ‘Apple’ menu, then ‘System Preferences,’ and ‘Security & Privacy’
  2. Click on ‘Camera’ on the left, then on the ‘Privacy’ tab, and you’ll see a list of apps that have access or are requesting access to use your camera
  3. Click on the box next to each app you want to grant access (or remove access by unchecking the box next to the app)

Grant apps permission in Ventura

To check if an app you’re trying to use has permission to use the camera, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the ‘Apple’ menu, then ‘System Settings’
  2. Click on ‘Privacy & Security,’ then ‘Camera’
  3. Click on the box next to each app you want to grant access (or remove access by unchecking the box next to the app)

Too many apps trying to access the camera

Another common issue is having two apps open that have permission to access the camera. When both apps are open and trying to use the camera at the same time (FaceTime and Zoom, for example), it can cause an error with the built-in camera functionality.

To fix this, the easiest way is to toggle between apps and check what’s open. Use ‘command + tab’ to bring up the app swapper functionality. If you’re using FaceTime, ensure there are no other apps open that may have access to the camera. Use the keyboard shortcut ‘command + Q’ to quit any of these active apps.

Here are more tips on how to use FaceTime on a Mac (including the set-up process and making calls).

An issue with a third-party app

Occasionally, a third-party app may cause the camera to stop working. The easiest way to fix this problem is by using Terminal, Apple’s built-in terminal emulator included in the Mac operating system. While it may seem daunting to use Terminal at first, it’s easy to use.

To launch Terminal and reboot your camera, follow these steps:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut ‘Command + N’ from the desktop to open a new ‘Finder’ window, then click on ‘Applications’
  2. Click on the arrow next to ‘Utilities’ and scroll down to ‘Terminal’
  3. Once the Terminal window opens, type the following command ‘sudo killall VDCAssistant’ and hit ‘Enter’
  4. Enter your administrator password if it’s requested and hit ‘Enter’
  5. Relaunch the app you want to use your camera with and it should function now

Mac camera not working with FaceTime

When you use FaceTime, the built-in camera should turn on automatically. So, what happens when it doesn’t? If you turn on FaceTime and your camera isn’t operational, you’ll receive a pop-up warning letting you know that the camera is disconnected or unavailable.

If you’ve already closed other apps that have access to your camera, the easiest thing to do is to restart your Mac.

Here’s how to restart your Mac:

  1. First, shut down any open apps that you don’t need
  2. Next, go to the ‘Apple menu’ and select ‘Restart…’ from the drop-down menu
  3. A pop-up box will appear, and you can check the box to reopen any windows or apps (if required), and click ‘Restart’

Summary: Fixes for Mac camera not working

Remember that apps need permission to access your camera. If you’ve granted them permission and your camera still isn’t working, then check you don’t have competing apps open. If that doesn’t work, head to the Terminal to reboot your camera. From there, a restart can be a good option.

If you notice certain apps keep causing issues with your camera, it’s worth updating them to the latest version. If you’re still experiencing issues with your Mac camera, it’s time to clean up your machine. Mac has a few built-in features to help clear clutter, but third-party apps such as CCleaner for Mac offer a wider range of tools that do a more thorough clean.

Here are some of the benefits you’ll get with this app:

  • It analyzes all the photos on your Mac and finds those pesky blurry images, dull-lit photos, and any that look the same (so you don’t keep 10 photos of the same pose or image!).
  • It finds duplicate files and clears junk off your Mac.
  • It uninstalls apps you no longer need and probably forgot you had! This could be the likes of Skype or an app that led to your iMac or MacBook camera not working in the first place.

Technology is meant to make your life easier, more fun, and allow you to get things done faster. Sometimes, even a Mac needs a little helping hand from other technology like CCleaner for Mac.


  • Can someone see me through my Mac camera?

    While this certainly wasn’t Apple’s intention when they built cameras into Macs, cameras can be hacked. If you use our free secure browser, CCleaner Browser, it has a feature called Webcam Guard, which stops apps and malware from accessing your webcam without your consent.

  • How do I restart my Mac camera?

    To restart your Mac camera, go to ‘Applications,’ then click on the arrow next to ‘Utilities’ and scroll down to ‘Terminal.’ When the Terminal window opens, type in ‘sudo killall VDCAssistant’ and hit ‘Enter.’ Enter your administrator password (if requested) and hit ‘Enter.’ 

  • How do I test my Mac camera?

    To test your Mac camera, open ‘Finder,’ click on ‘Applications,’ then find and double-click on ‘Photo Booth’ on the right. It will turn your Mac camera on automatically (you’ll see a little green light next to the camera). As soon as you close the Photo Booth app your camera will turn off.