How do I access my default video camera on my mac? I know on Linux it is /dev/video0 but my Mac does not have that. I'm trying to capture my webcam into ffmpeg

ffmpeg -i /dev/video0

But it won't work because /dev/video0 doesn't exist.

  • Technically, the API for calling the camera exists in the Aqua layer, so you would have to negotiate that entire framework. It's a huge security risk so I doubt it will ever be made as easy as /dev/videoX, but I've been way wrong before :-) – bmike Aug 2 '11 at 19:45
  • Also - why not expand the question to say what you want to do - there might be many built in tools that do what you want to do even if your familiar tool is missing. You might be looking for a knife and some matches when the mac has delivery service and you could straight out just order a pizza. – bmike Aug 2 '11 at 20:09
  • Some great programs that help in capture video have popped up over there command line control of the built in camera – bmike Aug 24 '11 at 19:56

Unfortunately, it appears that ffmpeg can't record using the iSight, as reported in a ffmpeg-users thread.

Really a shame that Apple doesn't expose this functionality!


Macs use the AVFoundation framework to expose the camera programatically.

You'll want to start with the StopNGo sample project if you've got a copy of Xcode. (and just browsing the source may help figure if you care to go down that path without needing Xcode to make a decision)

It would be a big security risk to expose that API to the terminal on every mac by default, but someone may have writen a bridge you could use.

You might need to ask that specifically on the programming sites. Your query looking for an equivalent to attaching a pre-existing device is advanced consumer and on-topic here. Getting into API usage is generally off topic even when the simple "consumer" answer is "no - the equivalent video device isn't available on Mac OS X"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .