Camera Not Available or Working on Mac? Here’s How to Fix It

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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.

Camera Not Working Mac Activity Monitor

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.

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3. Type:

and press Enter. If prompted, type in your password and press Enter.

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4. Type:

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.

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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.

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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.

11 comments

  1. Well done I only had to use the first command and the camera was restored immediately, others have suggested the restart and reset PRAM solution but this is only temporary.
    Thanks

  2. Won’t work for me. Message I get is “no matching processes were found”.
    Rebooting didn’t work – I lost the camera a few months ago, have updated to latest software etc regularly.
    Any other ideas?

    1. I’m having the similar issue on MacBook Pro 15” 2016 with High Sierra and Mojave (beta) already. Did you solve that issue somehow?

  3. Very easy to follow the crystal clear comprehensive instructions, inspite of my low-level knowledge of computer technology. After learning here the reason why the mere restarting of my MacBook failed to restore the sudden, for the first time loss of the built-in camera function (“No Camera Connected”) on my otherwise reliably and smoothly running MacBook, I was able to fix the problem with the shutting down command before having to try the other above well explained options.
    Thank you for the useful, much appreciated advice.

  4. You can also just use the Activity Monitor application in your first step to stop the VDC and Camera assistant processes without going to the terminal. Just type VDC or camera in the search window of the Activity Monitor and then select it in the list and then click the X button on the upper right to kill the process.

  5. what I really need is an App I can run to help color correct the bad colors I’m getting on this camera. It works fine, but video comes on in predominantly yellow… Also the color level is so high, it tends to wash out and look pretty bad.

    I want to talk to the Spedal people on the phone to get some help. Spedal people are unreachable on the phone, and very unresponsive when sending them email…. Do you happen to have a phone number for Spedal?

    Or are they a “Fly by night” Chinese company…. Are they even in their office…. I was lied to by Amazon who lied and told me there was an App I could use, and they said it was a Logitech camera, it wasn’t, and yet was listed on Amazon as Logitech.

    Is there any other way I can get more info on this Spedal company?

    John

  6. Lost camera a week ago, real bind as using Teams & Zoom a lot, needed to move to a laptop
    Using a Mac mini with Thunderbolt display. 10.15.7
    Like Alex back in 2018 get message “no matching processes were found”.
    Restarts didn’t work either.
    All other apps such as Facebook, Photo Booth say “camera not connected”

  7. Silly Me!!
    Didn’t notice that an update to my antivirus program had blocked webcam to ‘prevent applications from spying on me” Switched it off and fine now.

  8. Same with me and Kaspersky AntiVirus “prevent webcam hijacking” feature. Also was preventing all legitimate use by me!! Needs some work by Kaspersky to allow local apps to access webcam!

    Thanks for all the tips!

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