iSightDisabler Icon

Every Mac that Apple ships, sans the Mac mini, comes with an iSight camera embedded in the bezel at the top of the display. If my memory serves me correctly, Apple’s computers were one of the first to really popularize the standardization of built-in cameras.

I’m probably not alone when I say that I rarely, if ever, use my MacBook Pro’s iSight camera. In fact, it’s become more of a worry to me when thinking about the potential hacking and privacy concerns. I’m far from a tin foil hat wearer, but I have to be honest and admit that the thought has crossed my mind before… you know, the one where hackers view my iSight camera unbeknown to me.

With all of that said, wouldn’t it be nice if you could disable your Mac camera with a simple software tweak? Inside, I’ll show you how to do just that.

Disclaimer: This is for OS X Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan only. I tested this out on my 2014 MacBook Pro with Retina Display running OS X El Capitan. While the script is intended for OS X Mavericks, it works perfectly fine on my El Capitan machine, and I’ve experienced no issues. Still, we assume no responsibility for any negative effects that this script may have on your machine.

First and foremost, I’d like to give props to whoever runs the blog, because there is where I found the AppleScript. The script, aptly entitled isightdisabler, blocks access to iSight by temporarily changing the permissions on the driver files that provide apps with access to the camera hardware. Obviously if a hacker compromises your Mac, they could just as easily reenable the driver using this tool, but the point is you want to make it as hard as possible for any potential intruder.

iSightDisabler Options

Before getting started, you will have to disable System Integrity Protection (aka Rootless) on your Mac. You can do so by following these simple instructions.

Download and unzip the script and place it in ~/Library/Scripts/. Or you can make your own application by opening the script in AppleScript, and clicking File → Export and select Application from the File Format menu. You can then use this trick to give the app the custom icon above.

To run it, simply double click on the app and click Disable iSight. You’ll be asked to enter your administrator password. Once you do, iSight will be disabled. To verify, launch an app that relies on the camera, such as Photo Booth.

Photo Booth iSight disabled

Photo Booth with iSight disabled

To reenable iSight, launch iSightDisabler and select Enable iSight. You’ll, again, be prompted for your administrator password.

And that’s all there is to it. You can now disable and enable your Mac’s iSight camera on demand. What do you think? Were you able to disable iSight on your Mac using this tool?

  • maderos

    I would just stop using your MacBook at all if I were you – to make it even harder for potential intruders.

    • I stand corrected, this is by far the best solution. But it’s not an option for most of us 😛

      • Tamahome5555

        Why don’t we just all put a black tape on the iSight camera (electrical tape)

      • King B

        Because disabling “high-tech” software with “low-tech” hardware is ratchet.

      • Alex Durden

        I know people think you’re crazy in this thread, but it’s unsettling to me to have my photo taken when I am least expecting it. For example, the first time I opened up Skype, I just got out of the shower and the computer enabled my camera. Not cool. I definitely like this script. If only there were a cleaner way to do it, such as a hardware button.

      • Maybe you’re already aware of this but this little tool doesn’t work anymore starting with El Capitan thanks to the newly-added security layer to the underlying OS. However, there’s — I would say — a better way to achieve the same with a feature built right in the OS: System preferences –> Parental Control –> Other –> Disable built-in camera. HTH!

    • Smile it is almost Friday!

      Be nice. If it only takes a second to close the window, why let the rain in all over the floor?

  • pnh

    The low-tech (and most effective) solution:

    • Haha, by far. Yes, but I got tired of cleaning tape residue off of my screen.

      • Justine Jeunesse Conway

        I used a sticky post it note!

    • Smile it is almost Friday!

      I do that on all my devices! I do not like the camera in my face (off or on).

  • Virus

    I’ve always put a little sticker over the camera as well to double check no one (NSA / Hackers ) can see me

  • Guest

    Wouldn’t open for me.

  • Chang in Charge

    I couldn’t get this open.

    • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

      Ensure when exporting the file make sure you make it save as an ‘application’ not ‘script’

  • Haha, I just follow basic safety principles (think b4 you click/tap) and that has kept my system out of the hands of remote hackers for almost a decade.

    BTW, doesn’t Mac OS X have a Device Manager GUI like Windows? Or is that yet another GUI missing?

  • Jonathan

    Just a tiny poll, do you really think somebody (hackers/government) watch you through your webcam?

    • MrDDify

      Why would they? If they want they can film me all day. It has no purpose to them. I don’t give a shit. So no

      • Daniel

        I’m sure it’s not as big of a threat as some people make it out to be, YET! But it’s no secret that the US government is doing these kinds of things, it’s been proven, and to a certain point I think it’s even been admitted by them. Then you got the jack ass hackers that will eventually find reason enough to go through the trouble of spying on you and me.

      • Athena

        It’s thinking like that, that puts our safety at risks. Who in the government has the time or would want to snoop on the lives of the rest of us? Are you or any of us that interesting?They are there to find the terrorists among us! Government workers have to get a judges signature to access private information. They work very hard and can’t keep up with their work much less spend time eavesdropping on the rest of us.

      • Kurt

        People like you are the reason why we don’t really have a 4th amendment anymore and are losing our rights so quickly. If you only understood how ridiculous your idiotic statement truly was.

      • John S

        You’re an idiot. Stop screwing up the right to a private life for the rest of us.

      • MrDDify

        So for giving my opinion I’m screwing up the private live for the rest? Would be awesome if i had that much power. You big idiot!

      • Athena

        You’re a simpleton and paranoid.

    • ✯Mike✯

      the chances of them watching your computer, out of the millions and millions to choose from, is so low, i could care less.

    • I think there’s more chance of your conversation being monitored by your Samsung Smart TV that sends audio data to servers unencrypted than there is of your webcam being monitored. Besides doesn’t the webcam on a MacBook display a green light whenever it’s being used?

      • Jonathan

        Yes, but remember that iDB post a few months back where a hack basically rewrote the driver for the camera, permanently turning off the camera light, allowing it to be on without the user knowing?

      • Hmm do you have a source? If this is true I wonder why Apple has not addressed the issue with a patch or is it a hardware issue that cannot be fixed by software?

    • Mack Peterson

      Considering that there are porn websites with categories dedicated to captured webcam video–”spy cam porn,” and considering the fact that I have personal experience with a student installing spying software on a females student’s computer, I would say there are probably plenty of people out there being spied on through their webcams. Horny college kid sneaks into pretty girls dorm room, takes a couple minutes to install some software on her macbook and type a few quick commands into Terminal… Doesn’t seem in the least bit far fetched. 21st century equivalent of drilling a hole into the girls locker room.

  • Daniel

    I’m sure at some point, the camera issues will move to our phones as well. Then we’ll have to disable features we paid good money for on our iPhones as well as Macs to avoid jackasses like the government or low life hackers. Thanks a lot jackasses!

    • Macguy007

      I don’t want to alarm you Daniel but they already have the technology to enable cameras and microphones on smartphones remotely and monitor them.

  • While this post definitely works, it’s all a little tounge-in-cheek guys. No need to get overly worked up about it.

    • Daniel

      I agree Jeff. But there’s no doubt in my mind within the next few years this will be a big problem. Although, of all companies out there I think Apple will neutralize the threat more efficiently than anybody else out there.

  • JoJo

    Do you really think that someone with the skills to hack your mac cannot find a way to undo this software tweak? :’)

  • This is so pointless, what do you think that little green light does when the camera is on? it’s wired to always come on (unless it breaks but i’v never heard of that) only old MacBooks could be hacked in a way where the light would not come on, but that’s with them plastic MacBooks, it went around the blogosphere a couple years back. I roll my eyes at the idiots with black tape on their MacBooks. This only makes sense for windows users.

    • Researchers have found a way to discreetly activate Mac iSight cameras Still pointless?

      • Well, if you read the document you can tell this is not something they can just turn into a little tool nobody knows is installed on their computer. Also don’t see any evidence this works on MacBooks that came after 2008. Until I see some evidence of it being on newer ones, i won’t be worrying about such a silly thing as this.

      • you are stpuid

        You are really naive. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You should stop spreading misinformation.

  • Adrian

    I don’t have that problem with my Mac mini…
    But when a camera stares at you… I know that feel bro.
    I would just use tape to cover it, this app only disables the camera for you, not for others xD

  • b9bot

    Just stop using computers, cell phones, the internet, and use a manual type writer and that way no one will see you or get to any of your information. I think this whole topic is silly and I for one am not going to worry about it. Because anyone connected to the internet or on a cell phone is a bigger easier target then that silly iSight camera will ever be.

  • Kr00

    I think hackers would give up after watching 10000 bald, fat, old and hairy men masturbating every day.

    • Smile it is almost Friday!

      Haha, well a lot of Mac users are female. My wife is Burmise with dark skin, and looks 28. The typical sex starved, overweight, 17 year old computer cracker would be very interested in seeing her sitting in front of the computer in her housecoat.

  • Andrew

    You could also splurge and by yourself a Nope by Bungajungle. Prettier than electrical tape, and does the same thing. Plus, you can still use the camera when you want to, and there’s no sticky tape residue.

  • Chang in Charge

    Did this work for anyone?

    • Smile it is almost Friday!

      Presently it does. The ultimate solution is to paint over the camera lens with silver colored paint.

  • Kurt

    I feel pretty confident that your local police view your security cameras (if they are internet based of course). As for webcams? Well if your computer is from your school then probably yes they, the school admins view your cameras and take videos/pictures. This has been written about often.

    • Jonathan

      It is a school laptop, but no built-in camera (it does have a mic though) I have an external one connected. I did however, hack it and put on Windows 8, 10 preview, and Ubuntu (shhh!) So I doubt they are monitoring me when I’m in my own OS. But with the school OS (really locked down. You can barely do anything) I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s software that tracks my every website, keystroke, and so forth. I was looking through some files and found a log file of what appeared to be just that. So because of that, I’m rarely in that OS. Only 3 times (and I’ve had it for over 2 years) have I ever booted into that OS. One to figure out how to hack it (the day I got the laptop), another to grab a file, and a 3rd to recover a hard drive (Windows 7 driver support only for the hard drive case which is why I had to boot into it).

      • John S

        Give the man a prize, Internet. You’re awesome.

    • John S

      Do you have any good articles you’d recommend to read up on the police and security cameras bit?

  • AM

    Thanks for the info. This worked fine on my iMac (Mavericks). I went for the “app” option.
    For anyone interested, here is the icon as an icon file (i.e. an icns file with transparency). http:// iconverticons dot com /icons/2488d50d7751204b/
    Of course you’ll need to adjust the URL for it to work. Or iDB can add a link to the icns file in the article. 🙂

  • Smile it is almost Friday!

    Not a bad idea.

    I put a sticker over the cameras on all my devices except my phone. Hey, it works!

    I removed the drivers entirely from my company issued Windows notebook.

    • Maybe it was updated since you commented, but script version 5 works fine for me on 10.10.3

      • Smile it is almost Friday!

        Yes, I have since my post, tried version 5. It works. I went further by removing the drivers 100%, and painting over the camera with a silver oil based paint pen. Problem solved!

        If I feel the need I can use an external camera. I am not feeling that need.

  • Substance_D

    this disables all the cameras!!
    I want to only disable iSight and connect 2 USB camera’s

  • Xiaochaun He

    not working

  • Vaughn Brohseph Johseph Show

    This kills ANY camera option. I cannot use my external cams now. The idea was to remove iSight so it would free up a bus so i could use 3 cameras in WIrecast vs 2

  • londonpropertyguru

    How do we know your download script isn’t a trojan horse to watch us on our isight cameras? 😉

  • Vic Manlapaz

    How about for El Capitan?

  • Vic Manlapaz

    How about for El Capitan? (with attachment supposedly)

    • See updated instructions. You need to disable Rootless first

  • Lucius

    Just put a tiny piece of black tape over it to avoid any problems… someday you might want to sell the Mac and others might like to use the camera and you forget to enable the camera. And mute your microphone if you want for additional privacy or change the input method.

  • Steven Caufield

    Yeah, this doesn’t work. I get the attached error every time after putting in my password to run this as an app. I get the same error message executing the script. Thoughts?

  • Earl Francis

    I am just here raging why isn’t this just simple and straight forward?… I honestly don’t want a “hack” to turn off the camera. Why isn’t it listed like speakers and printers?

  • rafe

    thanks for this working perfectly

  • PDGav

    I ran this on Sierra and it worked. HOWEVER, I’m struggling to get it to enable and work again. Any suggestions on how to fix? Yes, I shouldn’t have tried it on an unsupported osx version.

  • BleachBit_IT

    Ive been hacked for 3 yrs. this is a mew MAC and I don’t know how to do script. I really need to disable the camera. The hacker made movies of me and put them on my computer to taunt me. Of course they made themselves the ADMIN so I could only see the Titles of the movies. THIS STUFF IS REAL PEOPLE! Is it hard to learn how to do script? My masters degree is in social work. Missed the hacking classes 🙁

  • Lucius

    Just use a tiny black sticker. You won’t even notice it’s there and it’s easy to remove if you change your mind. Just open a application that uses camera to verify it worked.

  • Justine Jeunesse Conway

    Ive managed to disable but cant switch to enable again… have I missed something? I’ve saved as an app so it opens with buttons but doesn’t work when clicked! help pls!