MacBook camera not working

Stuck with a MacBook camera not working? Learn how to fix your webcam in under 10 minutes. See how to find the exact problem with your webcam. Learn how you can protect your MacBook from malware and your privacy. Reset your MacBook’s NVRAM and SMC, learn what they do in your MacBook. Avoid paying high repair costs at the Apple Store.

We use our webcam on a daily basis in our life especially in the year of work from home. Webcam not working on your MacBook is the last thing you should have to worry about but still, it happened. In this guide, we will be seeing what problem occurred with your webcam and how you can fix it. Luckily for us, the problem with the webcam is usually fixed very quickly. 

But before we can start, there are some things you should keep in mind:

Chances are that the problem with your webcam is caused by login items. The good thing is that it can be solved quickly with MacKeeper, it will find and remove the problem. Follow the steps to get MacBook camera not working fixed:

  1. Open Mackeeper and go to login items.
  2. Now open it and click on start scan.
  3. Once done, look through all the login items and see if any of them is using your webcam. (Webcam occupied could be the reason for the problem)
  4. Now simply remove the item which is using the webcam.

NOTE: If you are not able to find it then you should use a different version of MacKeeper, download it by clicking here.

If the above trick did not work for you then we will try other approaches, make sure to identify your problem to solve it quickly.

macbook pro camera not working
macbook pro camera not working

Identifying the main cause of MacBook camera not working?

Usually, the problem is related to video quality which would look like artifacts, slow video, blurry video quality. However, there can be other serious causes such as the MacBook not recognizing the webcam. If this is the case then you will see a message like “No connected camera” or “Camera not recognized”.

Now we can solve the problem one way or another but if you know exactly what’s causing the problem then it could save you a lot of time and effort.

Checking with external webcams

If you have access to a webcam just for checking if the MacBook is recognizing the camera at all. This will give us a better idea as to if the connection is having a problem or there is a physical problem with the webcam.

Once you connect the external webcam, check for the following things: 

  1. Firstly make sure the connection cable is connected properly or not. Along with the cable, check the port if they are clean and the connections are not covered in dust. The dust can make the webcam not connect properly.
  2. Now the webcam should be recognized instantly, but if not then try plugging it out and in again. If it’s still not working then use a different port.
  3. If you are using a third-party (non-apple) camera then you should check if the driver is installed or not. To do so search online for the driver along with the name of the webcam.

Use the terminal to start your webcam forcefully

This is not a very traditional approach but it’s worth trying. However, keep in mind that some webcams can’t be started this way such as MacBook Pros, iMacs, etc.

This is due to the fact that webcams start automatically when you need them, you must have noticed while using FaceTime or PhotoBooth. But in our case it is not coming up, so we will be using the terminal to open it. Follow the steps mentioned below to achieve the same:

  1. Open your MacBook and go to the terminal, Applications -> Finder -> Terminal.
  2. Now type sudo killall VDCAAssistant, this command will make all applications force quit which is not essential, and using your webcam. Press enter after writing the command. 
  3. Now a security popup must have come up, enter your password there and press enter.
  4. Once done open any application which uses the webcam like FaceTime, check if the MacBook pro camera working or not.

Restarting MacBook in safe mode

If you have come so far it is likely that you already tried restarting your MacBook, and it was clearly not enough to solve the problem. That is why we should try to restart the MacBook in safe mode.

Safe mode will start up the MacBook with only the essential apps which will not let any other app use the webcam. In case this doesn’t work for you, the problem is most likely due to third-party applications.

Follow the steps mentioned below to start your MacBook in safe mode:

For Intel-based MacBooks (before 2020):

  1. Power off your MacBook and restart it.
  2. While restarting hold the shift key while MacBook is booting up.
  3. Now you should be able to see “Safe Boot” written at the top right corner of the Macbook screen. Wait for the login screen to come up if it is not visible.

 For M1 MacBooks:

  1. Power off your MacBook (hold the power key until startup options come up).
  2. Now pick the startup option from the popup, select your MacBook’s start-up drive.
  3. Hold the shift key and then click on “Continue” in the Safe Mode.
  4. Once done, release the shift key and the MacBook should boot up in the safe mode.

Check if MacBook is connected to the internet

This is a very obvious thing to think but sometimes the problem of blurry video, slow video, artifacts might just be due to slow connection. You must notice the slow internet speed while browsing, but we could always miss it.

You could easily check if this is the problem by checking the internet speed, click here to check it. Or you can search on Google for “Speed test”. Anything above 5 mb/s should be fine for decent video quality.

Checking app settings

Third-party applications might be causing problems with your webcam such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, and other video call apps. It is a good idea to check in the setting of these apps to check if they are using your webcam in the background or holding them. You should definitely do this if you notice that the webcam works in some apps and not in others.

Now only let’s check while of the apps are using the webcam, floor the steps below:

  1. Open your MacBook and look in the Dock, check which apps are using your webcam. These apps are Safari, Zoom, Microsoft Terms, Google meets, and other apps which use the camera.
  2. Now open Activity Monitor, Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor.
  3. Quit any app while is using the webcam with Activity Monitor, these apps are holding the webcam for themselves.

Reset the SMC

SMC stands for System Management Controller which controls all the low-level operations. This method should not be used unless you are out of all other options.

SMC regulates the build-in webcams in MacBooks and iMacs, this is why you should not reset them randomly. But if the webcam is not working then you should try this. Follow the steps below to reset the SMC:

NOTE: Make sure the MacBook has at least 70% battery or attach it to the power supply before resetting the SMC.

  1. Power off the MacBook and then hold these button combinations until the MacBook restarts: Shift + Control + Option + Power.

If the above step didn’t work for you then try this instead:

  1. Power off the MacBook, make sure it’s completely turned off. (Hold the power button for 10 seconds)
  2. Now turn on your MacBook and turn it off again. 
  3. Hold this button combination for 7 seconds: Shift + Control + Option.
  4. After pressing the buttons for 7 seconds, press the Power Button also along with the other buttons for another 7 seconds i.e, Shift + Control + Option + Power Button.
  5. Now release all the buttons after 7 seconds and turn the MacBook on.

Run the hardware test

If none of the tricks is working for you then there is the possibility that your webcam is damaged in some way. In order to check if the webcam is damaged or not, we need to run the in-build Apple Diagnostics Tools.

This will tell us if there is any internal hardware issue with the webcam or not. Easliy identify MacBook camera working or not.

NOTE: For MacBooks (before 2012 models), the tool is called Apple Hardware Test and it works differently.

For MacBooks with Apple Diagnostics (MacBooks after 2012):

  1. Power on the MacBook and disconnect any external device which may be connected to MacBook such as earphones, hard disks, etc. This can cause problems while running the diagnostics.
  2. Now restart the MacBook and hold the D key while it’s powering on. A new screen should come up with different language options.
  3. Select your preferred language and wait for the diagnostics to be completed.
  4. After the completion, you should be able to see some code if there is an issue with the camera, check for the below codes: 
    • NDC001
    • NDC003
    • NDC004
    • NDC005
    • NDC006
  5. If you see any of these codes in the diagnostics, you should take your MacBook to a service center.

Resetting the NVRAM

NVRAM stands for Non-volatile random-access memory and it is responsible for storing all the local settings on your MacBook. This is why you get your volume level, brightness level the same even after restarting your MacBook. And this is how we can solve the problem with our webcam not working or not connected. Follow the steps mentioned below to reset the NVRAM:

  1. Power off your MacBook and power it on again.
  2. While it’s turning on, hold this button combination: Option + Command + P key + R key.
  3. Release the buttons after you should hear 2 start-up sounds, wait for the second sound to come, and then release. (It would take about 20 seconds).
  4. For MacBooks with older security chips, you need to release the keys after the Apple logo comes up the second time.

Scanning the MacBook for malware

By now if you are not able to fix the issue with the webcam then the bad news is that virus/malware is on your system. The good news is that you can easily scan your MacBook for it and remove it. It is a good idea to scan your personal device for malware every week or at least every month to be safe.

There are some signs to check if your MacBook has any malware. Open the Activity Monitor and check for any app which is consuming too many resources and you do not recognize it. You can easily Google its name and see what the app is.

If the app is malware then stopping it is not enough, this is only temporary and not safe. Even deleting the source file from the device is not enough, as it must have already spread throughout the MacBook and in different files.

You need to use an antivirus application to remove malware such as MacKeeper or another third-party anti-virus.

Summary

In the guide, we saw how we can solve the problem with the webcam and what is causing the problem “MacBook camera not working” in the first place. It is always a good idea to try it yourself before going to the Apple store for repair. In many cases, Apple charges you even if there was a minor software problem which you could have done yourself. However, if you see any physical damage on the webcam, you should go to the Apple store and get it fixed. Physical damage may include cracked glass, mist over the sensor, black spots coming in the video.

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