With the Continuity Camera feature in iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, you can use your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac during FaceTime, WhatsApp, Slack, Zoom, Skype, and other video calls.
Plus, you can use it in Photo Booth, QuickTime Player, and pretty much any app where you need to work with your MacBook’s camera.
No matter what iMac or MacBook you use, it’s certain that its built-in camera is not as good as your iPhone camera. So for improved video calls, presentations, tutorials, and such, using your iPhone as a webcam is a significant upgrade.
You need the following to use Continuity Camera as a webcam:
- iPhone XR or later running iOS 16 or later
- Any Mac or MacBook running macOS Ventura or later
- Both iPhone and Mac should have the same Apple ID
Note: You can use any iPhone released in 2018 (like XR) or later. This means you can also use iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone SE 2022 as a webcam for your Mac. However, the following special features of Continuity Camera have specific device requirements:
- Center Stage and Desk View: Requires iPhone 11 or later. It’s not supported on iPhone SE.
- Studio Light: Requires iPhone 12 or later.
How to use your iPhone as a webcam for Mac
From start to finish, it takes just six easy steps.
Step 1. Choose wireless or wired setup
You can use your iPhone as a webcam for Mac wirelessly or use it via a Lightning cable:
- To use wirelessly: Enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on your iPhone and Mac. Also, make sure both devices are near.
- To use via a wire: Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a Lightning cable.
Tip: While using iPhone as a webcam, you’ll see a notification on your Mac if the iPhone battery gets low. When that happens, you can plug your iPhone into your Mac or a charger.
Step 2. Position your iPhone
You can mount your iPhone to the top of your Mac desktop or MacBook using a third-party attachment like this one. If you don’t have that mount, you can use any cell phone stand and place your iPhone steadily on it or even 3D print one.
It would help to keep the iPhone in landscape orientation. However, you can use it even in portrait orientation.
Step 3. Lock your iPhone
Your iPhone screen must be locked to use it as a webcam, and you can’t simultaneously use your iPhone for anything else. If you want to get inside your iPhone, you’ll have to pause the webcam session or disconnect it.
Note: If you receive a call while your iPhone is being used as a webcam, it will pause the video and audio until you end the call and lock the iPhone. This is true even if you have set your iPhone to receive calls on your Mac and pick up the call directly there. To avoid this, put your iPhone in Do Not Disturb mode.
Step 4. Select your iPhone’s camera as your Mac’s webcam
Here’s how to use your iPhone as a webcam in popular apps on Mac:
FaceTime: Click Video from the top menu bar and select your iPhone as the Camera.
WhatsApp: Make a video call using the WhatsApp app for Mac. Next, click the three dots icon from the call screen and choose your iPhone as the Camera.
Slack: Initiate a video call or Huddle with a colleague. On the call screen, hit the Settings icon and select your iPhone as the camera input.
Zoom: Click the tiny arrow next to the camcorder icon and select your iPhone as the camera source.
Photo Booth: Apple Photo Booth is the fun built-in camera app for your Mac, using which you can take selfies with various effects and record videos. To use your iPhone camera in Photo Booth, click Camera from the top menu bar and select your iPhone Camera.
QuickTime Player: This is another Apple app that comes preinstalled on all Macs. It’s used primarily for playing videos, but you can also use it to make movies, record your Mac or iPhone screen, and even tape iPhone FaceTime or WhatsApp calls. To use your iPhone as a camera source inside QuickTime, open QuickTime Player > File > New Movie Recording > tiny arrow next to the record button and select your iPhone.
Just like choosing your iPhone as the webcam, you can also use it as the microphone input for your Mac.
Step 5. Use video effects and mic modes
After following the above steps, you can use your iPhone for a simple yet improved webcam experience. But that’s not all. You can take things further using the following video and microphone effects. Here’s how:
1) When using your iPhone as a webcam, click the macOS Control Center icon from the top right of your Mac’s screen.
2) From here, select Video Effect, and then you can use Center Stage, Portrait mode, Studio Light, and Desk View as long as your iPhone supports it. What these effects do are self-explainatory, and you’ll also see a small introduction screen when you select them.
Here is a quick overview of each feature:
- Center Stage: Even if you move around slightly in the room, the Ultra Wide iPhone camera will use its intelligence to keep you in the center of the frame.
- Portrait mode: It keeps your face sharp and blurs your background, thus helping the person on call focus on you and not your (maybe messy) surroundings.
- Studio Light: Let’s say you’re in a room with poor light or in front of the window. If you turn on Studio Light, it will dim the background and illuminate your face, which improves the overall video presentation in difficult lighting situations. Your iPhone 12 and later does all this using its powerful processor without relying on external lighting.
- Desk View: It uses the Ultra Wide camera on your iPhone 11 or later to show your desk as well as your face at the same time.
3) Like videos, you can customize your microphone experience by clicking Mic Mode in the macOS Control Center. From there, select:
- Voice Isolation: It minimizes the background noise and focuses on your voice, making it easier for the person on the other end of the video call to listen to you clearly.
- Wide Spectrum: It does the opposite. It will capture both your voice and also what’s around it.
Step 6. Pause, disconnect, or stop using your iPhone as a webcam
When you’re done, you can do the following:
- Use the button inside the video calling app to end the call.
- Tap your iPhone screen and choose Pause or Disconnect.
- If you’re using your iPhone as a wired webcam, you can simply disconnect it from your Mac, and it will end the Continuity Camera feature.
- And if you’re using it wirelessly, turning off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi should disconnect the connection.