MBP 13" 2017, macOS 10.15.7, FaceTime 5.0

After about 10 seconds of trying it pops up the message below:

enter image description here

Restarting my computer does fix the problem. However, even without restarting my computer, other apps are all able to use the camera. Photobooth, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom all attach to the camera and use it. They all do so simultaneously. But without a reboot FaceTime cannot, even if I quit all those other apps. The problem recurs from time to time, with weeks in between sometimes.

I have an external USB camera, and the laptop lid is closed. In the camera menu for FaceTime AND other apps, the internal camera is greyed out, and only the USB one is available, and selected.

[ Edit ] In response to comment from @IconDaemon here is the state of Facetime's camera menu when this error occurs. USB Camera is selected and active. Built in camera is grey (because lid is closed). This is AFTER a reboot. Again, Facetime cannot access camera but ALL OTHER APPs can. Photobooth, Zoom, Teams, Camtasia ... they all work perfectly.

enter image description here

  • Try leaving the external camera disconnected for a day to see if the error recurs.
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 18:38
  • @IconDaemon then what? If the problem does recur then what do I do? If the problem does not recur then what do I do? I've noted that it recurs with a period of weeks, not days or hours. So if it does not recur after a day of having the camera disconnected, I have no new information.
    – jay613
    Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 11:48
  • Leave the external camera connected for now. Next time this happens, in the FaceTime app > Video menu, make sure the external camera has been selected, not the System Setting default, which is the internal camera. For some unknown reason, it may be switching back to the default. If you've already tried this without success, please add it to your question as a list of your troubleshooting steps.
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 15:45
  • @IconDaemon I added to the question that Facetime is using the correct external camera.
    – jay613
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


Hopefully this isn’t something that needs a hardware repair. If you tire of rebooting or it breaks quickly after a restart, think about heat buildup on the Mac and keep track of that while you work on software isolation.

I would gather a week or two of data. When did the error happen? How long after boot? When does the device sleep? Any patterns on app last used?

Then you’ll have to decide if you have a good backup or if you install a fresh OS on an external drive to have a clean OS install and can test FaceTime only for a day or two without all the other apps.

  • That was 2.5 years ago. I never solved the problem and no longer have the machine.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 22:07
  • Sounds good. Maybe this can be a start to help someone down the line. No need to accept the answer. I would vote up a “too much hassle, got rid of that Mac” solution. 🤣
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 23:13
  • Well I didn't see the need to blow raspberries here but that is what I did. Switched back to Windows after 5 years on Mac. It really makes no difference to me, but I saved about $1000.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 23:18
  • Sounds good. They’re all just tools and sometimes the up front cost is the biggest barrier to a tool. If you can’t make up for it later in efficiency or whatever. My new job, I chose an HP as it’s the right tool, even though I really prefer Mac and have a ton of relearning to do.
    – bmike
    Commented Dec 11, 2023 at 23:21

You must log in to answer this question.

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