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With macOS Sonoma, 'reactions' like balloons, thumbs up, and fireworks appear during video calls (FaceTime, but also Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams meetings etc). Depending on the meeting, I feel these are either distracting or unprofessional.

Examples from Apple:

enter image description here

I have limited success, but no comprehensive fix:

This paubox.com article says:

Open FaceTime. Click the Video menu in the menu bar, represented by a green and white camera icon. Click "Reactions" to turn them off.

I did this but want to be sure that

  • They're disabled for other apps (not just FaceTime, but Google Meet, Teams etc too.)
  • They're disabled permanently (not just for one meeting or until next reboot.)

I couldn't spot anything in System Preferences.

How can I be sure I'm not sending these when I make the gestures that Apple is detecting and embedding in the video stream if I use an app that isn't FaceTime?

3
  • I'm going to attempt to clarify with an edit what could be more obvious with words added to the text and not relying on any of these comments remaining.
    – bmike
    Jan 16 at 16:13
  • @stevec But Apple in the past has granted such controls to the receiver, at least on Apple devices. For example, if you set an iPhone to "Reduce Motion" (and why wouldn't you anyway), it disables the idiotic effects that were added to iMessage. Jan 16 at 22:03
  • Might be off by default in MacOS 14 9to5mac.com/2024/02/13/camera-reactions-ios-macos
    – schroeder
    Mar 28 at 12:56

2 Answers 2

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At present, there's no option to disable it globally - you have to go into each and every application that might use your video camera, launch a video chat, and then click on the green video icon and disable reactions (it's the last menu option).

I've done this for Facetime, Zoom, Skype, MS Teams and Citrix.

However, this is not possible for browser-based chat programs, such as the ones you may use for medical appointments. For those, you may have to disable reactions at the start of each separate call. I've resorted to putting a Post-It note just beneath my video camera to remind me!

What I would recommend is to leave feedback at https://www.apple.com/feedback/macos.html and also raise a support ticket with Apple asking them to help you disable it globally. Hopefully, with enough professional user-centric pressure applied, they may introduce a System Preferences feature, in a forthcoming release.


I have tested the batch script that makes changes to

~/Library/Group Containers/group.com.apple.secure-control-center-preferences/Library/Preferences/group.com.apple.secure-control-center-preferences.av.plist

My experience was that although the above plist file was modified, those changes did not have the desired effect, and for many apps, the value of "false" reverted back to "true" (i.e. reactions enabled).

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  • I've edited out some generalities. There are organizations that have tens and hundreds of thousands of Mac users and few windows computers (in accounting and legal), but that really doesn't matter for the question at hand. I am not surprised that editing a plist file isn't enough - you have to issue a defaults delete or defaults write command now to change the settings in the database file and then the preferences system will persist those changes as needed to a file (or not in many cases). Great reporting +1
    – bmike
    Jan 16 at 16:19
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That same Green icon will appear when using Webex, Google Meet, etc. Just click it and disable the gestures. I have not found any universal setting.

In practice, I find you must be VERY deliberate with the gesture for them to work, and must hold the gesture for a comparatively long time for them to trigger. If you give a simple 'thumbs up' gesture to a speaker, it likely will not trigger as you must hold that gesture for a second or two (which feels awkward) for the reaction to get triggered.

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  • 3
    We've had many reaction animations appearing during microsoft teams work meetings. The first few times nobody knew what they were and ensuing discussions distracted from the meeting. We just want to know how everybody can turn them off. Personally, I triggered balloons (peace sign) several times (I never made a peace sign, but must use my hands in a similar way - one way is when I lean in to get a better look when someone screenshares, then I sometimes sit with two fingers pressed against my temple, which doesn't really resemble a peace sign but the 'reactions' feature thinks it is).
    – stevec
    Jan 5 at 1:30
  • 1
    Triggering the "thumbs up" animation can be as simple as folding your arms in a way that your left hand is holding your right elbow... thereby inadvertently making a thumbs-up gesture.
    – RCross
    Jan 15 at 9:42

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