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Just what the title says. Is it supported? If so - does this depend on application or on the system?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The simple answer is no - in general the one camera only sends data to one app.

The more complicated answer is that the API (application programming interface) that Apple publishes enforces this restriction. If a developer hooks into the hardware directly or there is a bug in the API, it is possible to share that stream.

So for most Apps made by someone other than Apple, once the iSight is in use by one application, it is unavailable to other applications until the application releases the use of it or the application closes. User Gentmatt rightly points out that this is not the case for Facetime and Photobooth, where Apple is either using an undocumented or private API or accessing the hardware directly so that both apps can share the camera feed.

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Wrong, I just opened FaceTime and PhotoBooth. Both of them get a picture. – gentmatt Feb 22 '12 at 13:16
really? I wonder if that has changed in Lion, it was never the case previously. Photobooth would lock out any other application. In fact there are iSight hacks that rely on that happening. – Stu Wilson Feb 22 '12 at 13:19
Well, I'm running Lion. My iSight is probably also different hardware than yours (HD cam shipped with MBP in 2011). Also, I cannot move any of the applications' windows when they're both open. But they do get the same live picture. – gentmatt Feb 22 '12 at 13:27

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