How to enable and disable the built-in camera on a Mac?

Almost every Mac model has a built-in camera connected to the mic, giving you audio and video whenever needed for FaceTime, Skype, or other calls using your Mac. 

However, Mac cameras can also be used to snoop on people with illegal software, such as spyware or even keylogger viruses. Cameras can be used to bribe and blackmail people and make everyone feel a little uneasy using our Macs, knowing someone else could be watching. 

So to prevent this, you need to know how to disable the Mac camera. At the same time, you should also know how to enable it when needed again. In this article, we have a few solutions for both and cover some useful troubleshooting topics around this. 

How to disable the webcam on a Mac?

First, let's start with a simple, non-technical solution anyone can do — cover it using tape. 

Security and intelligence chiefs and even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg are known for covering built-in cameras with thick masking tape or scotch tape. You can even use the sticky part of Post It notes. Don't use clear tape; that won't work. 

Using tape is simple, effective, and cheap. It could, however, leave marks or scratches on your Mac or potentially damage the lens, so it may not be a long-term solution. Let's take a look at other options: 

  1. Go to System Settings.
  2. Open Privacy & Security.
  3. Click Camera. 
  4. Now, toggle off all unneeded apps on the list to disable camera access.

If you want to check your microphone access, you can do that in Privacy & Security as well. Just select Microphone from the list and toggle off the apps that have permission to use your microphone.

Disable Mac camera in Screen Time

The newer macOS versions make parents feel safer, giving them more ways to block content and functionality. This includes a camera as well. Many users don't know it, but the Screen Time window does way more than limit internet time.

In Screen Time, there is a tab titled Content & Privacy.

Open System Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy > App & Feature Restrictions. Find Allo Camera on the list and disable it if needed. 

How to disable the Mac camera within popular web browsers 

Safari, the built-in Mac web browser, has advanced security and privacy settings that make this easier. To access these, open Safari and go to Safari menu > Settings > Websites > Camera. 

Within Safari settings, you can click Ask to switch to Deny to disable the camera and audio inputs. Of course, with all of these changes, if you want to use it again, you will need to reverse these steps. 

Other browsers, including Firefox and Chrome, have equally robust and user-friendly security settings. You can easily switch off the audio and video access for every web browser you use, making it much more difficult for malicious software to hijack access and keep an unwanted watchful eye. 

We hope the tips above were helpful. But what about reconnecting the camera when it is needed? 

Simply go back to the settings within whichever web browser you disabled it or back to System Settings, and if the tape was used, take it carefully off the camera. 

What if you can't reconnect with the camera?

Start with deleting system junk. 

Over time, a Mac can get full of everything from out-of-date files to apps you don't need or use anymore. In particular, old cache files can interfere with the camera. 

Use CleanMyMac X, a powerful Mac performance improvement app, to clear hard-to-find system junk, clutter, and caches to get your Mac camera working as good as new again. Here is how you do that: 

CleanMyMac X - Smart Scan complete
  1. Download CleanMyMac X (a link to download a free version).
  2. Use the Smart Scan to quickly and easily identify system junk.

Now, your Mac camera and audio should be working normally again. Just remember to disable access via System Settings or web browsers when it isn't needed to keep your Mac secure. 

Another issue CleanMyMac X can help with is app permissions.

Staying in control of your camera permissions

Use another tool that's supplied with CleanMyMac X — called Application Permissions. With its help, you can check what apps are allowed to use your camera and adjust those permissions with a few clicks. 

CleanMyMac X - Application permissions

Therefore, if you ever have a creeping feeling that someone is watching you, you can easily check it within Privacy and block access to your camera at once. 

Mac cameras are one of the many system features that are taken for granted. So much so that we forget they are there. The problem is, because of this, they've become a natural security weakness that is being exploited. Taking care to prevent unwanted intrusion is a necessity. We hope this article helps you do that.

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