How to Use FaceTime For Mac to Chat with Friends & Family

For years Mac users have been using Mac OS X’s integrated chat software iChat to video chat with friends and family that have Macs as well, or Skype to video chat across platforms. Now, with Apple’s FaceTime for Mac, you can video chat from your Mac with friends or family members like never before… while they’re on the move! Apple first introduced FaceTime as a way for people with iPhone’s and iPod Touches to video chat with each other from anywhere they had a WiFi connection. Now though, Apple has introduced FaceTime for Mac, allowing for the first time for us to video chat from Mac to iPhone or iPod and back.  So how is the software, and how do we use it?  You won’t be surprised to learn that, like most things Apple, it is not too difficult, but may also be surprised at how cumbersome this beta software can be. Don’t worry though, because I’m going to walk you through it, step by step!

Getting FaceTime for Mac

This part’s easy! Just head over to and hit the “Download the Beta” button. The download is almost 150MB, so set aside a few minutes (or hours if you have a slower connection), but the software is free, so no complaining! This though brings me to my next point, this software is in beta. I’ve been using it for over a month now and haven’t run into any serious bugs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t. You just have to keep in mind that you are using a beta product. Also be aware that FaceTime for Mac requires OS X Snow Leopard, so don’t even try installing without it, because it won’t work. Once the download is complete and the software is installed, launch FaceTime and we’re off to the races!

Creating Your FaceTime Account

The first time you launch FaceTime, you’ll be asked to create a FaceTime account. This basically just means setting up an account associated with whatever your most frequently used email address is. This way, when people try to add you, they won’t have a difficult time. You’ll assign a password to your account, or use your iTunes account information (or Apple ID) and FaceTime will import its contact list from your Mac’s Address Book.


Using FaceTime

The first thing you likely want to do is add the contact you think you’ll FaceTime most frequently to your Favorites list. This is accomplished by simply clicking the “+” sign in the top right corner of the below window, and then clicking their name.


Now that you’ve got a few contacts added to your Favorites, simply clicking one will call them. You can tell if someone is available for FaceTime by the camera indicator next to their name. The question mark means they may or may not be available, but the blank camera means they are. Click a name, and a FaceTime call is started! This means you can call people with Mac’s or iPod’s by having their FaceTime account-associated email in your contacts, or call them on their iPhone by having their mobile phone number in your book.  Pretty handy if you know a lot of people with FaceTime!

Once you’re in a call, the default view looks like this:


Just like in Skype, your picture is minimized to the bottom of the window, and your friend is the main window, making it very natural to focus on the person you’re talking to! Also take note of the menu at the top. Under Video you’ll find a few interesting perks. First is the Enter Full Screen option, giving you a much more focused, even theatre-like, experience.


This menu also offers options for switching to Landscape mode, using different microphones than that which is set to default, and muting your FaceTime call so they can’t hear what you’re saying, just like on a normal telephone or cell phone.



Actually using FaceTime for Mac is as simple as most other operations are on a Mac. The layout is simple, clean, and beautiful, and it works quite well. The downsides? In my opinion, the biggest would be that the uninitiated user would see no extremely obvious place that the contacts come from, nor would they see an obvious way to start a call with a contact. If Apple can keep the layout simple, as well as expand the user base, FaceTime for both Mac’s and all other Apple products could become a popular form of communication. Until then though, it will likely continue to be something that enthusiasts are in to more than anyone.

What do you think of FaceTime? Do you wish it were more like Skype? Where is Skype with a cross-platform (including mobiles) app anyway? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Colin Scattergood

Frankly, Colin is a big geek about the things in which he's interested. From tech to science to the business behind it all...When Colin get's in to something, he really get's in to it. Mac's and Android phones are his forte, but you name it and he probably uses it. He's an avid pilot and is also deeply interested in the industries that encompass his technical and well, sort of nerdy hobbies. He is open to any and all communication, so feel free to shoot him an email with comments, questions, suggestions or corrections at any time! Visit him at or


  1. Facetime is great great app i love it is much more simple than skype or other messengers. thank you for this review you did a good job.

  2. Hey thanks John! I do definitely like its simplicity, just hope they figure out how to make some of the features more transparent, and some cross-platform chat would be nice as well!

  3. I wish Facetime was more like Skype. Skype is more expanatory of how to work everything, plus the video size is wider. I still can’t figure out how to video or chat someone on Facetime, so I’m using Skype.

    1. Facetime is available only for Apple product. If your friends do not have Mac or iOS devices, you might want to use Skype instead.

  4. Does it work to have someone using i chat on their Mac and the other person using facetime on their ipad?

  5. I’ve installed FaceTime on my iMac but when I’m connected to a call the person on the other end cannot hear me??? I can hear them, but they can’t hear me?  Any idea what’s wrong?

    1. Few possiblilties:
      1. You are on a slow neIwork
      2. Your mic is not functioning
      3. The other person’s Mac speaker is not functioning or he/she has muted his Mac.

    2. Maybe you have it on mute. Click on the video button on the top and see if mute is checked.

  6. When I’m face timing someone they can’t hear me on the other end. I have it set up for internal mic and its not muted. Any suggestions?

    1. Are you sure the problem originates from your end? Could it be the other party didn’t turn on the volume?

  7. I can’t operate FaceTime in my Apple MacBook laptop,
    so could you tell me “How to do facetime on my Laptop”

    Peter Huang 

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