Continuity Camera is one of the best new features in macOS Ventura. Starting with macOS 13 and iOS 16, you can instantly turn your iPhone into a high-quality webcam for video calls and more. Below, we'll tell you how and why you should.
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< h2 id="h-what-is-continuity-camera">What is the Continuity Camera?
The Continuity Camera in macOS Ventura lets you use your iPhone's rear camera as a video camera for FaceTime, Zoom, and any other app that needs to need a webcam. This feature also works in non-video calling applications such as QuickTime and Photo Booth.
The advantage is huge; just compare the quality of your Mac's webcam with the quality of your iPhone's video recording. The Continuity Camera adds video features such as studio lighting to enhance your environment and a center stage to make you the center of attention from any vantage point.
Apple previously included macOS features called Continuity Camera, such as using the iPhone's camera to take a photo to insert into a Keynote slide on your Mac. In the future, I think using your iPhone as a webcam will be useful enough that that's what people mean when they talk about a continuous camera.
How to use Continuity Camera
To get started, make sure your Mac is running macOS 13 (Ventura) or later. You also need an iPhone to run iOS 16 or later. Both devices must use the same iCloud account to allow the connection.
Continuity Camera works wirelessly, so you don't need to connect your iPhone to your Mac with a cable. You can use a charging cable if your battery is low or you prefer a wired connection, but I found performance to be excellent without a cable.
If your devices are up to date, then you are almost done with the setup. For best results, Apple strongly recommends that you connect your iPhone to a Mac display. Your iPhone must be locked with the rear camera facing you – select your iPhone as the video source. How to do this varies by app, so you may need to explore the app's settings screen. Learn more about using the Continuity Camera with FaceTime here.
QuickTime is the default video player for many file types on Mac and can also be used to create video. You can do this by launching QuickTime, choosing File from the menu bar, and choosing New Video Recording.
If your Mac has a webcam, this will probably start previewing live video from the built-in camera. Move the cursor and the record/play controls will appear. The big red circle initiates video recording, while the downward pointing arrow shows input and quality options.
If your iPhone is installed and correctly positioned, you should be able to select your iPhone from the list of cameras. In almost all cases, this will increase the quality of your video exponentially.
By the way, here you can also choose between high and maximum quality for capturing video. High is usually appropriate as it uses standard compression (H.264 video and AAC 44100Hz audio) to control the file size. Maximum generated uncompressed files (Apple ProRes 422 video and Linear PCM audio), which are much larger.
Now you can press the red record button and start shooting. The benefit of using QuickTime on your Mac with the iPhone's Continuity Camera is that you're using your phone's best video camera and can see what you're recording in real time. The short setup process is worth it compared to the lower video quality of the selfie camera, or the hope that you'll be in frame and in focus with the rear camera without seeing yourself in real time.
After stopping recording, QuickTime prompts you to save the video and choose a save location. You have now created a video that is far superior to what you could have done with your built-in webcam.
Would you like to use Continuity camera on your Mac to take photos? Photo Booth on Mac can do just that. This can be especially helpful if you have a Mac and iPhone handy when trying to take group photos for the holidays or special occasions.
This is because everyone can clearly see how they look before the photo is taken, and Photo Booth provides a countdown before the photo is taken. Photo Booth also has a number of fun camera effects, and video recording supports these effects as well as Continuity Camera. You can also take four quick shots in a row to create a grid of 4 and 4 shots.
By default, Photo Booth uses the built-in webcam. You can change the camera source for Photo Booth in the Camera section of the menu bar. You should see your iPhone as a camera option if properly installed or positioned for the Continuity Camera.
By selecting iPhone as the camera source for Photo Booth, you will instantly see the quality of both photos. and the videos zoom in dramatically. Just take a picture or record a video in Photo Booth just like you would with the built-in webcam, and you're good to go.
Images and videos from Photo Booth are saved in the app (and in a Photo Booth library file in the Finder). You can use the shared sheet or drag and drop selected photos and videos to share them in your iCloud Photo Library or elsewhere.
Using Continuity Camera with Photo Booth also allows you to add camera effects such as Portrait and Studio Lighting to make your image look different than the built-in webcam. Using your Mac display as a viewfinder without sacrificing quality is fantastic.
What happens if you get a phone call?
Great question, thanks for asking. Luckily, a spammer contacted me during a FaceTime call while using Continuity Camera.
In all other cases, including video recording, the call takes over and stops the camera. The Continuity Camera anticipates this and handles it gracefully. Your video call is not interrupted and your phone does not vibrate or play a ringtone. Instead, macOS plays a single beep and displays a phone call notification until the caller hangs up.
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