Don’t panic if your camera suddenly stops working during a video call or if you see a “No camera connected” or “No camera available” error when you launch an app. Camera issues on the Mac are usually minor, and their solutions can be as simple as just shutting down and powering up your computer. If you’re having trouble using your Mac’s built-in camera, try one of these quick fixes to get it working again.
Is the Camera in Use By Another App?
One thing that’s quite easy to forget is that the camera can only usually be used by one app or program on your Mac at any one time. Check to see whether camera-based apps like Skype, FaceTime, Photo Booth or another app is running either in the foreground or background, and close any that you’re not using at that moment.
You can check the Activity Monitor (Command + Space, type “activity monitor”) to see whether one of those apps is running in the background. If it is, close it straight from the Activity Monitor.
To close an app in Activity Monitor, click it in the list then click the “x” stop sign-style button at the top left corner.
Force Quit VDCAssistant and AppleCameraAssistant
If you need to use your camera right away or can’t dedicate a lot of time to troubleshooting the issue, try restarting camera-related processes like “VDCAssistant” and “AppleCameraAssistant” in the Terminal app. VDCAssistant and AppleCameraAssistant are programs that run in the background whenever you use your Mac’s built-in camera. Complications with these processes can affect any number of applications that can access the camera like FaceTime, iMovie, Messages, and Skype.
To force quit VDCAssistant and AppleCameraAssistant:
1. Close any application that has access to your camera.
2. Click the Spotlight Search icon, search for Terminal, and press Enter to launch it.
and press Enter. If prompted, type in your password and press Enter.
and press Enter.
Once you’ve stopped both processes, launch an application that uses the built-in camera and see if the problem is resolved.
Adjust Your Camera Settings
There isn’t a camera section in System Preferences, so you can’t change the camera settings directly. However, most apps that use the built-in camera have adjustable camera settings. FaceTime and Skype let you specify which camera you want to use for video calls, so make sure the built-in camera is selected.
Reboot Your Computer
Another quick way to solve camera problems is to reboot your Mac. Be sure to completely shut down your Mac instead of choosing the Restart option. Restarting your computer will close your session and temporarily turn off your Mac but leave the RAM untouched. On the other hand, shutting down your Mac will clear the RAM and end all processes, including ones that might be interfering with your camera.
Update Your Software
If your camera doesn’t work with a specific photo-editing or video-conferencing app, it may be incompatible with that application. For example, you can’t make video calls using the Skype app if you or the person you’re contacting has an outdated version of Skype (version 2.8 or older). If you want to make video calls, both parties need to update the app to the latest version.
The same philosophy applies to your operating system. If you’re having camera problems, see if there’s a security update available for your Mac. Apple includes important bug fixes in each build release, so it’s important to update to your software to the latest available version. Chances are they’ve identified your camera bug and resolved it in the most recent update.
It’d be a pretty big coincidence if as you’re reading these very words you happened to spill water on your Macbook, but it’s always good to be prepared in case that does happen. We also have a nice little trick for keeping windows always on top in macOS.
This article is updated in April 2020.