How To: Fix the “No iSight Camera Detected” error message on your MacBook

MacBook No Camera error iChat

In my continuing quest to offer obscure tech tips that will probably only help one other person in the world, today I’d like to tell you how to fix the “No camera detected” or “Cannot find iSight Camera” message I suddenly got today. I say “today”, but really I use the video chat feature so rarely on my late 2008 MacBook Pro that for all I know it hasn’t been working since I upgraded to Lion last year. But anyway, the gist of it is iChat, Photo Booth, and QuickTime all for some reason did not see my iSight camera. The audio for the camera seemed to work fine, but the green light would not light, and depending on the application, the error message ranged from “The iSight camera is in use by another application” to “There is no camera connected”.

MacBook No Camera error Photo Booth

MacBook No Camera error QuickTime

The fix, it turns out, was relatively simple. All you need to do is reset your SMC. What’s an SMC? It’s the “System Management Controller” in all Macs, and it controls a lot of the little hardware things that can go wrong in your Mac, like the fans running too hard, or maybe the backlight keyboard not working, and, apparently, your MacBook forgetting it has a built-in iSight camera. Just for fun, Apple made the process of resetting the SMC different for each Mac, but in general it all comes down to unplugging your machine from a power source for a certain amount of time, sometimes holding in the power button when the computer is turned off, etc. You can find instructions for resetting the SMC on your specific Mac here, but in my case I lucked out as I have the last MacBook with a removable battery – so all I had to do was shut down my laptop, remove the battery, count to 20, spin around, put the battery back and power it back up. BOOM. Camera works fine. And, it could be my imagination, but the computer is running a bit cooler as well despite my fan running quieter. So it’s probably a good idea to reset your SMC a couple times a year as part of your regular system maintenance. Give it a try, and let me know in the comments if you’re the one other person on the planet this tip helps.

Comments
55 Responses to “How To: Fix the “No iSight Camera Detected” error message on your MacBook”
  1. andrew says:

    Hey Doc, when I squint at the photo of you giving the “thumbs up” , I can actually make out your face – red hair and all. Awesome!!!

  2. HAhaha.
    Squint harder. It’s brown.
    But otherwise I’m quite handsome, eh?
    – The Doc

  3. Sam says:

    Wow, thanks for that. My MacBook Pro has been running hotter since Snow Leopard, I just assumed it was that, but after resetting the SMC, it’s much cooler now.

  4. John Madden says:

    Thanks, Doc. Started getting the error message on my iMac, this fix worked immediately!

  5. Kelvin says:

    Nice advise Doc!

    It worked for my MBP as well.

    My isight camera green light was constantly on with the “No Camera Detected” message as well.

    Just a battery removal saved the day!

    Thanks!

  6. Sam says:

    Thanks so much! All of a sudden this afternoon, my camera wouldn’t register on any application. This solution worked perfectly. Reset the SMC by disconnecting power, removing battery, holding power button, reinserting battery, and starting it up again. My camera is back.
    Very legitimate and quick fix. I thought my camera was dead. Thanks for posting the advice and saving my day!

  7. Linds says:

    I cannot thank you enough for this tip. It worked perfectly to remove the battery and start it up again. This is fantastic because I was worried I’d never get it running again. I’m moving to study abroad soon and Skype is the only thing that will keep me in touch with friends and family, and without my iSight I was doomed. You have saved me! Thanks!

  8. lehr says:

    I have 2006 Intel iMac and resetting the SMC is not fixing it. Anyone have any other ideas? Much appreciated.

  9. Fabio says:

    My imac 7,1 have always isight led green on.
    I try to press cmd alt p r at startup, but the problem persist.
    The camera isn’t detective in usb hight velocity.
    Can i do?
    Thanks a lot

  10. Vera says:

    Thanks very much for publishing this advice. My Macbook did not seem to remember it had an iSight camera after I downloaded mountain lion, and simply removing the battery did the trick. Thank you so much.

  11. robert says:

    tried and not working .. camera still not working on my mac book 07

  12. Martin says:

    Hi DOc, tried your solution for the iSight on my MPP 17 .. to no avail. Tried reseting the SMC … several times but nothing happens … the errors I get are as shown in your HOW TO: FIX THE “NO ISIGHT CAMERA DETECTED” ERROR MESSAGE ON YOUR MACBOOK.

    Many thanks for your help

  13. Steuart says:

    I had the described problem with isight a week ago. Camera would not work for Skype, found it would not work in Photobooth either, nor would it show up in System profiler. Finally fixed it 2 days ago by doing a disk repair from disk utilities (appeared to be a glitch in my windows’bootcamp’ side). I gleefully tried skyping my sister and the camera had gone again. Yesterday I did the SMC reset, worked a treat. Successfully video skyped. Today it is back to square one. There must be a software glitch that is tripping it, but no idea what. The camera again no longer shows up in system profiler…

    Any ideas out there?

    Thanks

    • K.A. says:

      I have the EXACT same issue as you do Steuart. Any workaround out there?

      • Tronster says:

        Also ditto; this has plagued my old MacBook Pro, Intel Core 2 Duo; running bootcamp OS X 10.6.8.
        iSight works in Skype but any mac apps (Photobooth, iMovie, Quartz Composer, etc…) it’s a no go.
        Resetting the SMC didn’t fix it.

        Would love to hear if there is a work around.

  14. Mista xhobaib says:

    i hav same problem.but i found a solution that when my isight n8 in working condition i simply close the lid of my mac.when i open the lid my camera working 100%

  15. Michelle says:

    Thank you! I was the one person you helped today!! xoxo

  16. Steuart says:

    I have tried everything and no joy. The SMC reset works a treat…
    …till I start using skype and then it goes again. It seems to be a skype conflict somewhere/how – but god knows what.

    I have completely rebuilt my mac software from scratch (nightmare) thinking that would do it. Nope.

    I even went into the genius bar and they had no idea why.

    Bugger bugger bugger. I have now resorted to just using an external for the time being.

    I am on Snow Leopard on an early 2008 macbook pro.

  17. Renae says:

    Thank you so much!!! My husband is working long distance and Face Time is our on only way of seeing each other… His camera stopped working and I went to searching. Found your site and now we can see each other again!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!

  18. Khurana says:

    Oh, thank you. my web cam on Macbook Pro was not working on Skype and Facetime. After following the procedure suggested above, (without resetting the SMC! though), the camera works. THANK YOU.

  19. pooja says:

    hello everyone,

    even i have d same pro…in my macbook i cannot work with my camera…listed above i tried resetting SMC,but no solutions yet..

    thanx for any help

  20. Maggie says:

    I am having the same problem as Steuart….the SMC reset you recommended worked and iphoto booth was functioning again, as was Skype when I did a brief check from the downstairs computer to this laptop. However, today I got a Skype call and as soon as I clicked on the video icon my image flashed up and then disappeared along with the icon from the Skpye dock.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks in anticipation!!

    • steuart says:

      Hi Maggie, I have still failed to resolve it. I even did a complete computer wipe and start again, slowly only adding the programs I really needed, and nope – it did not fix it. I had thought it was a skype conflict with something, but it kicked it out before I even switched on skype.
      I would still love a fix if anyone has any thoughts…

  21. Tekin says:

    Just log off from user account and log in again. No need for restart most of the time.

  22. sarah says:

    I have a mac pro, the camera and battery is built in… i have tried all the solutions from above and still no luck :(

  23. Patricia says:

    I had the exact problem you described. I held down the power button for 20 seconds after it powered off and that seemed to do the trick. I tried that first as I was too lazy to take out the battery :) Thanks for your help.

  24. George says:

    Huge thanks, Doctor! Your suggestion to reset SMC worked to restore my iSight (on fall 2007 vintage white MacBook) to full functioning. It was receiving video but not sending video. Webcam hadn’t worked for over a year. Your guidance was a terrific hat trick. I’d be praising you for turning water into wine if it had also gotten the trackpad working again! If you happen to have a suggestion for that too, I’d love to hear from you.

    • Me again. The fix on the MacBook iSight held for 2 days, now back to the pre-restored situation. I know you recommended resetting SMC several times per year, but every other day? Any further suggestions? BTW, no complaints from me on your suggested fix. Just wanted to share the fact that in my case it wasn’t a permanent fix.

  25. FT says:

    My Macbook air has the same problem but when i reset SMC it still doesn’t work. Do you know any other way?

    • Sarah says:

      I just bought my Macbook Air two days ago and the camera has never worked. Like FT, I’ve tried reseting the SMC but nothing happens. Is there any other way or do I need to bring it in to be repaired?

  26. cray says:

    Hi, My isight still not working after SMC and PRAM reset. I have rebooted,logged on,logged off, and shut down with no luck. I have MacBook Air A1304 13″. Isight stopped working after I upgraded to mountain lion from snow leopard. I tried to erase and reinstall just snow leopard but still no luck.I tried the Matias Gertel isight fix patches but did not work. I even replaced entire Isight assembly and cable and nothing. Im sure theres a fix out there. I just cant find it. Please help me.

  27. Meg says:

    Well, I for one am very happy that you continued your “quest to offer obscure tech tips that will probably only help one other person in the world”. Because, it just fixed my very problem. Thank you!

  28. Panji says:

    I have same trouble. I used macbook unibody so I can removed the battery.
    I’ve tried SMC reset but It still did not work. Please help me..

  29. Jon says:

    Need some help…….My internal camera in my early 2008 Imac 24″ is not working. Says camera not detected. I’ve tried this fix and still not working. My hard drive crashed. I replaced the hard drive, took back apert to ensure the camera was connected…it is. Looked under USB in system info…..the camera is not showing up there. I tried to restore form time machine but all files copied but not like i thought it would. I just have all of the old files but it didn’t RESTORE my computer to the way it was prior to hard drive crashing. I just have all the files back. Don’t know if there is a driver or something I’m missing, but I can’t find any info about that online. Any help would be greatly appreciated….

  30. laura says:

    ty so much ive been on line trying to figure it out and your solution worked!! much appreciated !!!

  31. Worked perfectly!!! I was having that exact problem. Solved! thanks!

  32. Naddie says:

    Wow! Thank you! I had this exact problem!

  33. Art Lupkowski says:

    Still not working. I have MacBook Pro with removable battery. Have tried battery removal and SMC reset. Anyone else can assist me on this one.

  34. Sky says:

    OMG thankyou so much!!

  35. ares says:

    I have a macbook pro 2008 and since upgrading to 10.8.5 isight not work and report the system is not in the usb, reset pram and smc and not working isight. I think it is a software conflict. some solution?

  36. Suz says:

    Thank you so much, I have been trying so many differnt things suggested on other websites all week to try and get my isight working after upgrading to Mountain Lion. I shut down and took the battery out and then put it back in and rebooted and my skpe video works fine. THANK YOU SO MUCH, it had been tearing my hair out.

  37. Erin says:

    I have a Macbook 2009 running 10.6.8 which has had this exact problem for a while. I did an SMC reset 6 months ago which got my computer to recognize the iSight camera again. It worked for a while, but this month I again have the ‘Camera not detected’ message in Photobooth. There’s no camera working in Photobooth; and no video chat available in Skype.

    Is the best course of action to keep resetting the SMC every time the iSight camera stops being recognized?

  38. Barry says:

    Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  39. sundaygirl222 says:

    You are absolutely right. Your’e advice got me out of a tight fix quckly. You are a star, and thanks for explaining it ‘non-techy’ language that I can understand!!

  40. Annette says:

    It worked for me! Thanks – a very simple fix.

  41. Katie says:

    I’ll be damned. That did the trick. THANKS!! I was about to accuse my step children of ruining my macbook. =P

  42. Brenda says:

    tried your advice. mid 2009 macbook running 10.9.3. shut down, unplugged power, took battery out, counted to 20, put back in, restarted and it worked! Thanks!

  43. AB says:

    It looks as if Skype could be behind all this. I lost cameras on two computers at the same time. Maybe it would pay to have each of us complain to Skype. I have tried resetting SMC for several reasons. I cannot say that I have had any success. I believe there is a solution in the software, but don’t have a clue where to find the proper file.

  44. I have been in many photobooths…but this was the greatest!! Our friendship hired Venice photo booth for our year end dinner awards dinner. They are very professional and go beyond the call of duty. It added so much to our evening, and everyone was raving about the quality of service.They absolutely deliver what you contract, and also make planning stress free.

  45. Horqua says:

    I have a 17″ 2006 MBP and your fix did not work for me but I thank you for suggesting it. There has to be an IOS reason the system refuses to recognize the iSight. My MBP is capped at Leopard on Snow Leopard.

  46. ladca2003 says:

    Worked like a charm. by reseting. Thanks.

  47. Danuta says:

    Simple but effective! My camera vanished without trace and I can’t even work out why. I answered a skype call but there was no camera. Tried restarting skype, the Macbook and then I tried other fixes I found on the internet but this was the one that worked. Thank you :)

  48. gsm_masha says:

    I also did exactly this;

    “I held down the power button for 20 seconds after it powered off and that seemed to do the trick. I tried that first as I was too lazy to take out the battery”

    Webcam worked immediately after by doing this and my +5 year old mac book pro also seems to be running faster and cooler…

    Thanks heaps for your help :)

  49. chicken-tikka says:

    Hello People,

    Had the same issue, not sure how many of you use Google_Hangouts…

    But I found that if you go and delete the Hangouts plugin from the Library directory and reinstall and reboot, it solved the problem for me.

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