Continuity Camera in action with Desk View on a MacBook
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 such as Center Stage, Portrait mode, or Desk 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’s useful, convenient, and simple. Let’s dive in.

Continuity Camera Requirements

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

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

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

macOS 13 Ventura Continuity Camera
Apple

Additionally, the newer your iPhone, the more features you’ll have access to. For example, Center Stage, a feature that follows you around the room using some software wizardry, works with the iPhone 11 or later. Desk View, which shows your desk in front of you, works on the iPhone 11 or later (but not the 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. That means any Mac capable of running macOS 13 can use Continuity Camera. The feature works both in wired and wireless modes. You won’t need to connect your iPhone to your Mac to use it, though 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 battery is low, so you’ll know when to plug it in.

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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 an input in the app settings, which will be different for every app you use.

During our testing, we were able to get the feature working (wirelessly) 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 box next to the Record button.
  • FaceTime: Click “Video” at the top of the screen, then select your iPhone under the “Camera” subhead.
  • Slack: Click on your user icon in the top-right corner of the app, then select Preferences > Audio and Video and choose your iPhone from the drop-down menu.

Some apps defaulted to the iPhone camera whenever it was detected nearby. Occasionally, this took a few seconds for the iPhone to “bing” and show the disclaimer screen to signify it’s currently in Continuity Camera mode.

What you see on your iPhone when Continuity Camera is active

Any app should technically work, though if you want to use the feature with a browser like Safari, Apple has implemented some additional security features to avoid accidentally broadcasting.

Apple responded to one Reddit user’s question about using Continuity Camera in-browser to be told that the iPhone must be “in ‘magic pose’ of landscape, screen off, locked, motionless (not handheld), and unobstructed” to work. That means you won’t be able to trigger the feature in Safari while hand-holding your iPhone.

One workaround is to prop your iPhone up in landscape mode until it’s connected, then pick it up and move it around as required.

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

While using your iPhone as a webcam, click on Control Center in the menu bar at the top (right) of the screen, then click on Video Effects. From here, you can enable several different effects that will affect how your webcam appears wherever it’s being used.

Activate Video Effects under Control Center in macOS 13 Ventura

Center Stage is perhaps the most useful feature. While this mode is enabled, you’re free to walk around the immediate area. Your iPhone will follow you as long as you don’t go too far. The quality may reduce the further you walk, with your iPhone camera being sharpest at the center of the frame.

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

Lastly, a feature called Desk View is perhaps the most interesting. When you first enable it, you’ll be asked to “set up” the shot by defining your desk area. On 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 “Desk View” window that appears for this to work.

Mount Your iPhone for the Best Results

You can mount your iPhone on your MacBook using a purpose-built Belkin MagSafe iPhone Mount. This attaches to your MacBook lid and ensures your iPhone is always good-to-go whether you’re answering a FaceTime call, using Slack, or in the middle of a web-based conference in Google Meet.

Belkin iPhone Mount with MagSafe for Mac Notebooks

A neat little mount that enables you to take full advantage of the new Continuity Camera.

Safari will automatically pick up your iPhone whenever it’s mounted in place. You don’t have to use the Belkin (or any purpose-designed) adapter. Virtually any iPhone mount will do, like a GorillaPod attached to a tripod grip or even a 3D-printed solution of your own. Of course, the traditional stack of books and tape works too.

Continuity Camera Not Working? Try These Fixes

Continuity Camera only works if you satisfy all of the requirements. In addition to having an iPhone XR or later running iOS 16 and a Mac with macOS 13 Ventura, you’ll also need to ensure your iPhone and Mac are linked to the same Apple ID.

You’ll also need to have two-factor authentication enabled on your account, and you must select your iPhone as your camera of choice in whatever app you’re using.

Select which webcam to use with Continuity Camera

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

We noticed issues getting Continuity Camera working wirelessly while using a VPN. Disabling the VPN connection on both devices fixed the problem.

If you’ve tried everything, try Continuity Camera in wired mode 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 solve some issues. Restarting both devices also fixed a problem we had after immediately installing macOS 13 Ventura.

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

Use Your iPhone as a Microphone with Continuity Camera

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.

Choosing your iPhone as a microphone in macOS 13's Sound settings

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

Alternatively, Use Third-Party Apps or a Dedicated Webcam

We’ve previously covered third-party solutions for using your iPhone as a webcam, and these may 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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Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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