Every Mac that Apple ships, sans the Mac mini, comes with an iSight camera embedded in the bezel at the top of the display. If my memory serves me correctly, Apple’s computers were one of the first to really popularize the standardization of built-in cameras.
I’m probably not alone when I say that I rarely, if ever, use my MacBook Pro’s iSight camera. In fact, it’s become more of a worry to me when thinking about the potential hacking and privacy concerns. I’m far from a tin foil hat wearer, but I have to be honest and admit that the thought has crossed my mind before… you know, the one where hackers view my iSight camera unbeknown to me.
With all of that said, wouldn’t it be nice if you could disable your Mac camera with a simple software tweak? Inside, I’ll show you how to do just that.
Disclaimer: This is for OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan only. I tested this out on my 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina Display running OS X El Capitan. While the script is intended for OS X Mavericks, it works perfectly fine on my El Capitan machine, and I’ve experienced no issues. Still, we assume no responsibility for any negative effects that this script may have on your machine.
First and foremost, I’d like to give props to whoever runs the techslaves.org blog, because there is where I found the AppleScript. The script, aptly entitled isightdisabler, blocks access to iSight by temporarily changing the permissions on the driver files that provide apps with access to the camera hardware. Obviously if a hacker compromises your Mac, they could just as easily reenable the driver using this tool, but the point is you want to make it as hard as possible for any potential intruder.
Before getting started, you will have to disable System Integrity Protection (aka Rootless) on your Mac. You can do so by following these simple instructions.
Download and unzip the script and place it in ~/Library/Scripts/. Or you can make your own application by opening the script in AppleScript, and clicking File → Export and select Application from the File Format menu. You can then use this trick to give the app the custom icon above.
To run it, simply double click on the app and click Disable iSight. You’ll be asked to enter your administrator password. Once you do, iSight will be disabled. To verify, launch an app that relies on the camera, such as Photo Booth.
Photo Booth with iSight disabled
To reenable iSight, launch iSightDisabler and select Enable iSight. You’ll, again, be prompted for your administrator password.
And that’s all there is to it. You can now disable and enable your Mac’s iSight camera on demand. What do you think? Were you able to disable iSight on your Mac using this tool?