How to Use Your iPhone as a Webcam with Continuity Camera

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Apple

Use Continuity Camera by opening FaceTime, Photo Booth, or another app that requires a webcam on your Mac. Choose your iPhone from the app’s video or camera settings. Open Control Center to use additional features like Center Stage, Portrait Mode, or Desktop View.

With iOS 16 and macOS 13, you can use Apple’s Continuity Camera to turn your compatible iPhone into a high-quality webcam. It is useful, practical and simple. Let’s dive into it.

Continuity Camera Requirements

Even if you have the best built-in webcam (like the one in the 2021 MacBook Pro), your Mac will provide an inferior image to your iPhone. Optics, overall resolution, and low-light performance are better on an iPhone designed for photography and videography.

Luckily, Continuity Camera lets you use your iPhone’s high-quality rear camera as a webcam for your Mac.

To use this feature, you will need an iPhone XR (introduced in 2018) or later, including the iPhone SE 2020 and 2022 refresh. This phone will need to be running iOS 16, released in September 2022 .

macOS 13 Ventura Continuity Camera
Apple

Also, the newer your iPhone, the more features you will have access to. For example, Center Stage, a feature that follows you around the room using magic software, works with iPhone 11 or later. Desk View, which shows your desk in front of you, works on iPhone 11 or later (but not iPhone SE). For the Studio Light feature, which artificially boosts the lighting in your scene, you’ll need an iPhone 12 or later.

Continuity Camera is built into macOS 13 Ventura. This means that any Mac capable of running macOS 13 can use Continuity Camera. The feature works in both wired and wireless mode. You won’t need to connect your iPhone to your Mac to use it, but you might want to connect to power if your battery is low.

Don’t worry, you’ll see a notification on your Mac when your iPhone’s battery is low, so you’ll know when to plug it in.

How to use your iPhone as a webcam

You should be able to use Continuity Camera in most apps that use a webcam. You may need to explicitly select your iPhone as the input in the app settings, which will be different for each app you use.

In our tests, we were able to get the feature (wireless) to work in the following apps:

  • photo booth: Click “Camera” at the top of the screen, then choose your iPhone.
  • QuickTime Player: Click File > New Movie, then select your iPhone from the drop-down list next to the Save button.
  • FaceTime: Click “Video” at the top of the screen, then select your iPhone under the “Camera” subheading.
  • Soft: Click your user icon in the top right corner of the app, then select Preferences > Audio & Video and choose your iPhone from the drop-down menu.

Some apps defaulted to using the iPhone’s camera whenever it was detected nearby. Sometimes it took a few seconds for the iPhone to “binge” and show the warning screen to mean that it is currently in continuity camera mode.

What you see on your iPhone when Continuity Camera is active

Any app should technically work, but if you want to use the feature with a browser like Safari, Apple has implemented additional security features to prevent accidental streaming.

Apple answered a Reddit user’s question about using the Continuity Camera browser only to be told that the iPhone should be “in landscape ‘magic pose’, screen off, locked, motionless (no handheld ) and cleared” to work. This means you won’t be able to trigger the feature in Safari by hand-holding your iPhone.

A workaround is to hold your iPhone in landscape mode until it’s docked, then pick it up and move it around as needed.

Using Center Stage, Portrait, Studio Lighting, and Desk Mode

When using your iPhone as a webcam, click Control Center in the menu bar at the top (right) of the screen, then click Video Effects. From here you can enable several different effects that will affect the look of your webcam wherever it is used.

Enable Video Effects under Control Center in macOS 13 Ventura

Center Stage is perhaps the most useful feature. While this mode is enabled, you are free to roam the immediate area. Your iPhone will follow you as long as you don’t go overboard. Quality may decrease the further you walk, with your iPhone camera being sharpest in the center of the frame.

Portrait mode is the same as Portrait mode found on the iPhone camera. It introduces an artificial (but often impressive) faux depth of field effect, perfect for blurring the background of your shot. Studio Light is another iPhone feature that artificially enhances the lighting in your shot.

Finally, a feature called Desk View is perhaps the most interesting. When you first activate it, you will be asked to “configure” the shot by setting your desktop area. During a FaceTime call, this view will be automatically shared. In other apps, you’ll need to use the in-app screen sharing feature to select the “Desktop View” window that pops up for this to work.

Mount your iPhone for the best results

You can mount your iPhone to your MacBook using a specially designed Belkin MagSafe iPhone mount. It clips to the lid of your MacBook and ensures your iPhone is always ready to go, whether you’re answering a FaceTime call, using Slack, or in the middle of a web conference in Google Meet.

Safari will automatically recover your iPhone each time it is mounted in place. You do not have have to use the Belkin adapter (or any other adapter designed for this purpose). Pretty much any iPhone stand will do, like a GorillaPod attached to a tripod grip or even a 3D printed solution of your choice. Of course, the traditional stack of books and tapes works too.

Continuity camera not working? Try These Fixes

The Continuity Camera only works if you meet all the requirements. Along with having an iPhone XR or later running iOS 16 and a Mac with macOS 13 Ventura, you’ll also need to make sure your iPhone and Mac are linked to the same Apple ID.

You’ll also need to enable two-factor authentication on your account and select your iPhone as your camera of choice in the app you’re using.

Select the webcam to use with the Continuity Camera

You’ll need both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled on your iPhone and Mac, with both devices within range of each other (we wouldn’t stray more than 30 feet). Personal Hotspot cannot be active on your iPhone (Settings > Personal Hotspot) and Internet Sharing cannot be active on your Mac (System Settings > General > Sharing). You also can’t use AirPlay on your Mac or be connected to an iPad using SideCar.

We noticed issues getting the Continuity Camera to work wirelessly when using a VPN. Disabling the VPN connection on both devices solved the problem.

If you’ve tried everything, try Wired Continuity Camera by connecting your iPhone to your Mac with a cable and trusting each device when prompted.

Connect iPhone to a Mac running macOS 13

Apple recommends locking your iPhone, unlocking it, and locking it again to fix some issues. Restarting both devices also fixed an issue I had after immediately installing macOS 13 Ventura.

Finally, installing any pending updates under (System) Settings > General > Software Update (on both devices) may be worth a shot if you’re still having issues.

Use your iPhone as a Microphone with Continuity Camera

The Continuity Camera can also function as a wireless microphone. You can select your iPhone under System Settings > Sound > Input to use it to capture environmental audio.

Choose your iPhone as a microphone in macOS 13 sound settings

When active, you can click Control Center followed by “Mic Mode” to select Voice Isolation (which attempts to attenuate environmental sounds) or Wide Spectrum (which includes a wide range of sounds around you), in addition “Standard” iPhone audio. Capture.

You can also use third-party apps or a dedicated webcam

We’ve already covered third-party solutions for using your iPhone as a webcam, and these might be worth a shot if your current setup isn’t compatible with Continuity Camera.

Alternatively, you can grab a capture card and use your standard camera for the best possible quality. For a plug-and-play solution, consider a dedicated USB webcam instead.


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