Want to prevent a Mac app from using the camera on your computer? MacOS makes it easy to manually control and manage which apps can access the front-facing camera on a Mac. Being able to manually control which apps access the camera on a Mac can be helpful for privacy and security purposes, and perhaps it may even inspire you to remove the tape over the Mac camera that so many techy computer users seem to rely on for some privacy.
This article will show you how to directly control which apps can access the camera on a Mac, and how to block apps from using the camera, as well as the demonstrate how to grant apps access to the camera on the computer.
How to Prevent Apps from Using the Camera on Mac to Disable Camera Access
Here is how you can individually determine which Mac apps can use the computer camera:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Go to the “Security & Privacy” preference panel
- Select the “Privacy” tab then choose “Camera” from the left side list
- Locate the app(s) you want to block camera access for and uncheck the box alongside that app name to disable camera access for that application
- Repeat to turn off camera access for other Mac apps as desired
- Close out of System Preferences when finished
Note this only applies to third party apps. All Apple apps and bundled system apps will not show up in that camera access control list on the Mac. So for example, apps like FaceTime and Photo Booth will not appear in the list to control or disable camera access for.
If there is nothing shown in the Privacy > Camera list on the Mac, that means no third party applications have tried to use the camera on the Mac.
Of course there are other ways to prevent apps from using the camera on a Mac. You can use OverSight to detect Mac camera activity (and block access too), you can put tape over the computer camera like many people do, or you can even manually disable the Mac camera completely by modifying system files which is really only appropriate for extremely advanced users (you can also disable the internal microphone on a Mac if you’re concerned about that too). Those latter options may be a bit extreme however, though every Mac user has a unique privacy and security threshold and risk profile, so do what suits you or makes you feel comfortable, if that means taping your web camera then so be it.
If you deny an app access to the Mac camera, and then try to use that app, unsurprisingly you’ll find that either the app won’t work as expected, or sometimes won’t work at all. For example if you disable camera access for Skype, then video chatting and teleconferencing will not work with Skype, and to get it to work again you’d have to allow access for that app to use the Mac camera again.
How to Control & Allow App Camera Access on Mac
You may have noticed already that modern MacOS versions will make apps send an alert dialog requesting camera access before the app can use the Macs camera. That applies to all third party apps, so for example if you open Skype on the Mac you will notice it requests camera access because a major feature of Skype is video chat. Of course there will occasionally be other apps that request camera access that may not need them, so feel free to be discerning when it comes to what apps you allow access to the camera on your computer.
If you want to manually control what apps have camera access, or you want to grant camera privileges to an app that you previously denied camera access to, you can do so through the same settings area you used to block camera access:
- Go to the Apple menu and select “System Preferences” then choose “Security & Privacy”
- Choose the “Privacy” tab then select “Camera”
- Check the box corresponding to apps that you want to enable camera access for
- Close System Preferences when finished
You may need to relaunch some apps for the camera access to be found again, simply quit and open them again and it should work fine. A reboot should not be required.
How you handle camera access for apps on your Mac is entirely up to you, so whether you let everything use your camera, or nothing use your camera, that’s your decision, and it’s easy to make further changes should you decide it’s necessary.