iSight Disabler

Update March 20, 2014:
iSight Disabler 5 released! Now supports Mavericks. See below for download.

Update July 24, 2011:
iSight Disabler 4 Released! Now supports Lion. See below for download.

Techslaves.org’s iSight Disabler is an AppleScript that automates the process of disabling and enabling the iSight driver(s) in OS X. The goal is to prevent applications from using the built-in USB iSight found in Macbooks, Macbook Pros and iMacs. I’ve seen various queries online about how to disable the iSight and while the answer was already hanging around, there wasn’t a simple way to disable and enable the iSight without going to the command line.

The gist of what I’m doing with the AppleScript is changing the permissions on various driver files that are used to provide applications with access to the iSight. The list of files that are “managed” by iSight Disabler has grown since it’s initial release for Tiger where disabling only a single driver was enough. With Leopard, subsequently with Snow Leopard and Lion, more driver files must be acted upon by iSight Disabler to ensure the iSight is fully “disabled”.

When you click “Disable iSight”, read access by all is removed from the driver files (chmod a-r). When you click “Enable iSight”, read access by all is granted to the driver files (chmod a+r).

To install the iSight Disabler AppleScript, place it in /Users/You/Library/Scripts/ and activate the script menu in your menu bar with the AppleScript Utility for easy access. To “see” your Library folder in Finder under Lion, you may need to run the following command from Terminal.app: chflags nohidden ~/Library.

Screenshots

 

Download

iSight Disabler Version 5.0 – Support for Mavericks
iSight Disabler Version 4.0
 – Support for Lion
iSight Disabler Version 3.5 – Support for Snow Leopard

120 thoughts on “iSight Disabler

  1. Hi,

    I’ve used iSight disabler in the past and it works great. At some point in the past I also managed to get the internal mic disabled. I assume I used the command line or maybe I destroyed the appropriate kext file but I can’t remember how I did it (and I haven’t found anything Googling yet either).

    Any chance you’ve got an “internalMIC Disabler” script that I can use to get the mic working again without reinstalling the OS?

    Thanks!

    1. Someone asked me about this before… If I had it, I’d post it!

      I looked into it for a while and it seemed to me that the audio driver was responsible for both input and output so disabling it would not only disable the mic but also the audio output (speakers, line-out) so I’m actually quite interested in how you disabled just the mic, if you can remember!

  2. Hi,, I also want to disable the iSight and use an external webcam. I’ve been racking my brains for months trying to figure out how. I’ve finally found a web cam that works on macbooks, its Dynex brand. But after pluging it in,, it only works on iChat where you can switch from iSight to the Dynex back and forth, which is not what I needed it for. I want to be able to use the Dynex web cam in random chatrooms and it won’t do that. I tried to install this iSight disabler and followed the steps to click on disable iSight when the popup came on but the Dynex cam still doesn’t work.. Any helpful would be appreciated. thanks.

    1. Hi,

      Unfortunately I don’t know anything about your Dynex webcam. Chances are it uses the same generic USB video driver as the internal iSight so when you disable the iSight, you’re disabling the Dynex as well.

  3. Yeah your absolutely right , when click on I disable they both don’t work. The Dynex cam was refered by someone in the apple forums. They said that was one of the very few external cams that work on macs. So I went out and bought one. There has to be a way to disable only the iSight. I mean on p.c.’s that have built in webcams you can disable and use external ones, why not with a mac. Like I said I been racking my brains for a long time now trying to figure it out. It’s very frustrating.

  4. I am trying to use this software in conjunction with a Proscope HR microscope that is usb based and I noticed that the Proscope software will still not see my microscope even though the I-Sight camera has been turned off. Any thoughts on being able to toggle through the USB ports to allow a plugged in device to be used.

    Thanks!

  5. Does the new version 3.5 account for the changes with the update to Quicktime? Apparently the Quicktime update disables the disabler.

    1. I’m running 10.6.3 with all the latest updates and QuickTime Version 10.0 (113). Version 3.5 successfully prevents Photo Booth from accessing the iSight, so yeah, 3.5 should work.

    1. By external iSight do you mean the Firewire iSight that Apple used to make? If so, that can be disabled separately from the built-in USB iSight but the iSight Disabler script doesn’t currently support doing so.

  6. @craig @rthomson
    I have also disabled only my mic, in the sound settings, the ‘internal microphone’ doesnt take any input. Regardless of iSight being enabled or disabled, the mic status is the same.

    I also can’t remember how I did it, script, or file rename/delete or some setting change. I checked the Terminal commands by using the up arrow key but couldn’t find anything that indicates audio input settings.

    Please help!

  7. Hello. I am grateful for this script created but I have encountered a problem. Everything ran great until one day my camera didn’t work on Msn/Yahoo…. Skype, etc.

    I opened Photobooth to make sure the camera wasn’t … broken? Well, it worked in photobooth, so this isn’t worrying me too much… i would just like my camera back!

    Can anyone help? I have tried downloaing a new Script and running it… pressing enable… and still doesn’t work

    Thanks in advance, Nusret.

    1. Have you tried checking the skype forums? Sorry, I don’t have any particular knowledge that can help you with this but if you ask on the skype forums, maybe someone there can help you.

  8. please, i actually need somewhat the opposite, my isight stopped working all of a sudden, some days back, after i noticed a sudden report, when i tried connecting my iPhone to the USB, saying the device was drawing too much power from my notebook, thus some or more USB ports have been shut down/disabled. only to discover my iSight was the main victim of this.. Please how can i get it back. will be really nice if someone could be of help, i jst got the air 3 days ago, and now this. :(

  9. I wish i understood this stuff better, but since i don’t, i’m grateful you were willing to come up with an on/off switch. Works like a charm! Thanks!

  10. For those looking for a way to also switch off audio input, don’t bother with the Sound PrefPane, but go directly to Audio-MIDI-Setup and check all the mute buttons for the integrated microphone input.

  11. working at a school – several laptops – on snow leopard and tiger – no problem..

    BUT

    leopard – the script runs, but camera is still on..cannot understand why?

  12. Changing permissions on the drivers doesn’t seem to work anymore. We had to delete them to disable the cameras.

    1. By “anymore” do you mean after a specific update? I just tested version 3.5 vs. against a fully patched 10.6.4 system and the camera is properly disabled.

  13. MacBook running 10.5.8 — I run the script — I tried versions 3.5 and 3.0 — and it claims success, but the camera still works.

    Apple musta changed sumepin’

    1. Quick question: When you use the script to disable the iSight, do you quit the apps using the iSight? If you open, say, Photo Booth then run the script while Photo Booth is running, Photo Booth won’t immediately cease access to the iSight. You have to quit Photo Booth and other applications using the iSight. Only then on the next launch of the applications will they fail to open the driver(s) due to permissions change on the driver file(s).

      I no longer have a 10.5.x system to test with but I can confirm 3.5 works on a 10.6.x system with all the latest patches.

  14. The meeting tools that I use regularly always activate the iSight and it was off after using the script. However, I noticed that the iSight became active again but I did not enable the iSight.

    Is there any condition that the script is being undone and the iSight was enabled?

    1. I’m not aware of any condition in which external software might “re-enable” the iSight drivers.

      What version of OS X and the iSight Disabler script are you using?

  15. does anybody have a copy of the quicktimevusbdcdigitizer.component file that comes with the tiger install cd? or even the .pkg file that contains it? I do not have my install disc with me but urgently need the file, as I deleted it before to disable isight. Thanks for any help in advance..

  16. To disable the iSight in later versions of Leopard you also need to chmod on
    /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CoreMediaIOServices.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin/Contents/MacOS/VDC
    Just as the script does for Snow Leopard. So basically if you eliminate the differences in the script between 10.5 and 10.6 it will work with both.

  17. I am new to scripts and really like this one. I use it in my computer lab via Apple Remote Desktop to enable or disable isight as needed and it works great. Is there a way I can send remotely via ARD passing the admin username and password so I am not prompted for it on all 26 computers in my lab?? I would like to do this as silently as possible

    Thanks

  18. I’m using the SnowLeopard-compatible version, but it only works with PhotoBooth. When I launch Apple’s FaceTime the iSight camera works fine, although the driver is unloaded. To me this means that FaceTime (a) is either using its own driver for the camera or (b) is enabling an unloaded driver at launch and disabling it again upon quit. Is there a chance to update the iSight Disabler to address this issue?

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for reporting! Indeed you’re correct, FaceTime still works after running iSight Disabler. I just investigated and it appears that FaceTime.app bundles it’s own VDC driver!

      /Applications/FaceTime.app/Contents/Frameworks/CoreMediaIO.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin/Contents/MacOS/VDC

      I could certainly add that to the list of drivers to disable… and ignore it if FaceTime.app isn’t installed. You may just have motivated me to clean up the AppleScript and release a new version.

  19. I ran the disabler for Snow Leopard and now my webcam on my webcam site doesn’t work at all. But my internal camera still works on Skype. Any idea how I can undo the disabler??

  20. I use the new logitech HD and it work fine n my Snow 10.6.6 no problem so far. I also use Logitech 9000 no problem. i use a dock . when i have my macbook pro out and open the app it connect to isight and when i dock it it and reopen the app it automatically finds my logitech. may be this help you guys..

    what i need to know is when i am running an application using using isight or the logitech it fine but when i go to log in windows it shuts of the isight and gives me error msg. in windows you can use the camera while the other user log in to their account.. is there is any way i could make it not do it

  21. What is the best way to kill the Photo Booth application by using ARD? Or is that even possible? Would like to limit access to it without completely disabling the application. Tech coach in a school system.

  22. Thanks NickTech (reply #30) for describing the fix to 3.5 for 10.5.8.

    I modified the “os_version” check to include both 10.5.8 and 10.6+ and then created an AppleScript app to install on the iMacs at my local public library. PhotoBooth was encouraging un-library-like behavior by groups of younger patrons. The librarians can now turn the iSights on or off.

    Here’s an updated AppleScript file & app:

    http://www.joyofmacs.com/downloads/iSightDisabler351.zip

  23. thanks tons! apple should be including this in their os, along with an option so that the computer doesn’t shut down when you close the lid of a macbook! great os otherwise.

    1. As I don’t have a copy of Lion because it’s not released yet and I don’t have the developer builds, I’m not in a position to update the script for Lion at this time.

    1. Version 4 has been released. Works on Lion. Haven’t tested with earlier versions of OS X but it should continue to work for all of them. Please report any problems/issues. I’ve only done limited testing.

  24. I for the life of me can not get this to work. Any help would be great! I have downloaded the program and tried dropping it in the script files and tried to enable the camera and still nothing works. please help!

    1. You can get that wallpaper… in the 1960s, of course!

      Search for “IBM System 360″ on google images, you’ll find something suitable.

  25. Hey! Thanks for the script man! I was using it for a while on Snow Leopard and now I upgraded to Lion and it didn’t work, come back here and you’ve made a new version for it. <3.

  26. Didn’t work, I’ve tried downloading it about 2-3 times now. I’ve repaired my disk permissions – that didn’t seem to fix it.

    Now I’m starting to wonder if there’s something wrong with my Apple Script Editor.

  27. I need to use my external usb webcam with uStream. Hoped this script would turn off the inbuilt iSight and allow me to use the external aGent V5 cam with its wide angle lens and low light facilities. However it actually turns off both. Any ideas?

    1. @sturner: Your external USB webcam appears to use the same driver(s) as the internal USB iSight does (probably the OS X VDC driver). If that’s the case, the ability to disable one and not the other using this method is dubious at best. That said, believe I’ve been able to use an external USB webcam with upstream before on my previous first generation MacBook, I believe it was an option in the Adobe Flash Plugin? If you right click on the upstream Flash object and go to “Settings” there will be a tab for which webcam to use. However, there is a known problem with using this dialog box under Lion. Your ability to select your webcam might depend on that bug getting fixed or an alternative way of selecting which webcam for Flash to use.

  28. the settings window does indeed list both cameras and does allows me to select which one i want to use – however which ever i select it will always use the isight no matter what. Denied!! using 10.6.8. so it may be a flash issue then… not a lot i can do about that i guess.

    1. Details please, Petros.

      Version of OS X?
      Version of iSight Disabler?
      How are you running the script?
      Did you quit/restart the applications using the iSight after running the script?
      What application can still use the iSight after running the script?

  29. Before I run this script, and great script thank you!, is there a way to reverse it should I then want to enable the iSight cam again?

    Thanks!

    1. @Front, yes there is a button to “Enable” the iSight included in the script. The “Enable” button simply reapplies the read permissions that are removed by the “Disable” button.

  30. I’ve installed version four. As near as I can tell, the iSight camera continues to run after running the script. At least the little green light at the top of the screen stays on.

    Version of OS X: 10.6.8

    Version of iSight Disabler: 4

    How are you running the script: I placed it in ~/library/scripts/iSight and then run it from the scripts menu in the menu bar.

    Did you quit/restart the applications using the iSight after running the script? I don’t know what application is using it. I suspected Skype, but starting it, quitting, and restarting has no effect. The little green light remains on.

    What application can still use the iSight after running the script? Hmm. Just tried PhotoBooth. It reports no connected camera. When then does the green light remain on, and what does it mean?

    Thanks,

    Eric Weir

    1. @Eric Weir, the green light means the iSight is “in use”. Some application is using the green light.

      iSight Disabler cannot disable the iSight for applications currently using the iSight, only applications started after iSight Disabler has been run.

      Did you ever use a previous version of iSight Disabler on this computer? Have you tried rebooting your mac? If so, does the green light remain on perpetually?

  31. Followup: Just restarted Photo Both after using the script to *enable* the camera. Photo Booth still reports no camera connected.

    Thanks again,

    Eric Weir

  32. Works great on new MacBook Pro 15″ (MacBookPro8,2) running 10.7.1

    Great script to prevent my kid from running video with unknown people on the internet.

    Thanks!

    Ryan

  33. Thank you!

    This is excellent. Use Skype a lot and don’t want to be caught out when stuffing my face with food or something else. ;p

  34. I want to disable my isight but have no idea how to run an applescript..

    do you have step by step instructions for someone who is a novice at terminal and applescript?

    many thanks,

    alan

  35. Re: iSight Disabler

    Got anything a bit simpler? As you predicted, “scripts” is not in my iMac’s user library, and the Terminal approach-which I don’t like messing with-didn’t do anything.. So far no sign of a “scripts” folder. If you’ll make it an app or utility I’m willing to pay for it.

    1. Hi Birck,

      I was aware of another project called “EyePatch” that effectively did the same thing as my iSight Disabler script… but the author’s website is no longer online and the github project page for the software is also off the map. Not sure what happened.

      Here is a link to where the author of EyePatch made the announcement:

      http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=561606

      But again, all those links are dead so I don’t know where you can find a copy of EyePatch these days.

      Alternatively you don’t need to put the iSight Disabler script into any special folder. You can just double click it, it will open the Script Editor and at the top there is a giant button that says “Run” which you can click and it will run the script. Should be simple enough.

  36. This will definitely be required for OS X Mountain Lion guys…thanks to Apple’s screwing up of iSight post an upgrade from Lion to Mountain Lion…An upgrade to your script to support Mountain Lion is much needed now…Thanks Vishy

  37. Too bad it disables every camera, not just the iSight. Thought I finally might get to scratch the itch it is too constantly switch cameras in skype every time I reconnect my external camera. Too bad …

  38. I ran it, it worked, then I tried to re-enable the camera and it did not work. Now camera is not recognized in every application I have tried. Using MBP with 10.6.8.

  39. I ran it, it worked, then I tried to re-enable the camera and it did not work. Now camera is not recognized in any application I have tried. Using MacBook PRO with 10.6.8.

  40. Used to work fine on my 2009 Macbook Pro running 10.8.5, it runs but doesn’t effect the camera on a new macbook air running the same os

  41. For my MBP (Oct 2013 model) running Mavericks, the QuickTime components are not used. I was able to disable the camera by applying the same chmod to:

    /Library/CoreMediaIO/Plug-Ins/DAL/AppleCamera.plugin/Contents/MacOS/AppleCamera

    This is apparently the new API used in Mavericks.

  42. I’m using an iMac 2011 with Mavericks and I want to disable the iSight Camera. Is someone can help me? I need very clear explainations because I don’t really know how all that does work. Thank you very much!

  43. I’ve recently been using an MBP i7 17″ as the CPU for my main desktop workstation, and it was driving nuts that it would not recognize the very nice HD Sony webcam that I had used with earlier workstations. Although quite an old Mac hand (since 1987) I had never before run Scripts but in short order I figured everything out and yeah, isightdisabler is a pretty handy little utility. Thanks. I needed that!

  44. Could you give a hint as to how your script works? Does it move the “QuickTimeUSBVDCDIgitizer.component” file? Or what does it do?

    1. Stepan: The script modifies the filesystem permissions for the various driver files. To “disable” the iSight, read permissions are removed. To “enable” the iSight, original permissions are restored.

  45. Hey, will you be releasing a script version end for Mavericks? Would be great if you could any time soon. (”,)

    1. Rick – It’s in the works. Version 5 supporting 10.9.x (Mavericks) has already been created and lightly tested but I’d like to run it through the paces a couple more time before releasing it to the wild. Stay tuned.

  46. To Disable in Mavericks (10.9.x) do this at terminal:

    ——–
    sudo chmod 000 /Library/CoreMediaIO/Plug-Ins/DAL/AppleCamera.plugin/Contents/MacOS/AppleCamera

    sudo chmod 000 /Library/CoreMediaIO/Plug-Ins/FCP-DAL/AppleCamera.plugin/Contents/MacOS/AppleCamera
    ——–

    To re-enable camera, you would need to change permissions from 000 back to 755 (replace the 000 with 755).

    If the script could detect which version of OS X the user was running and then apply the correct strings, that would be great. I am not a scriptor, nor do I have any desire to be. I have used the iSight Disabler script for security purposes on tons of different computers and loved the ease of use.

  47. I’m not on Mavericks yet but could you tell me if the version 5.0 works very well on Mavericks?
    Thanks a lot.

    1. Fila – It works as expected during testing on my 2011 MBP running Mavericks. I haven’t received any third party feedback since posting 5.0 yesterday.

  48. I was running the iSight Disabler 5 script on a MacBookPro (2011, 13”, 10.9.2) and also tried the changes from Ryan C. It works with FaceTime but not with Final Cut Pro X, here I always get a picture from the iSight camera. So this means the camera is not really disabled?!?

    1. cbmainz: My apologies for the delay in approving and responding to your comment. I don’t use Final Cut Pro X so I can’t say for sure, but it sounds like FCPX is shipping with it’s own iSight/webcam driver which is not being targeted by iSight Disabler.

    2. FCPX has its own VDC plugin, which you can add to the AppleScript:

      Final Cut Pro /Contents/Frameworks/CoreMediaIO.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin /Contents/MacOS/VDC

      There’s also a folder for CoreMediaLion.framework etc.

  49. Thank you so much! I teach a high school graphic design class, and this has been a godsend for my classes filled with 9th grade boys. I would like to point out to other people in lab-like situations that this script does effect all logins for each computer – so if you have networked accounts (like at a school), it will disable the camera for all accounts that log on that computer.

  50. Current version (5.0) still works on Snow Leopard. For those who also want to disable audio input, simply go to Audio-MIDI-Setup and completely mute the microphone input. (That should be sufficient imho.)

  51. Hello!
    I wanted to thank you for the script! It worked great since 2012 when I installed it!
    …..but…..now I need to use my camera again and I don’t know how to disable insightdisabler4…
    Can you help me??

    1. Nuria: Just run the script again. A dialogue box is displayed providing the option of disabling or enabling the iSight. Choose “Enable”.

  52. Cool!!! Thank you very much! It works! Sorry….this was really simple, but it’s so much time ago I installed it, I couldn’t remember….
    Thank you very much!

  53. Thanks, Nuria … this was what I was wanting to do as well (even down to disabling my camera a long time ago and forgetting how I did it) – and now my iMac camera works again!

    This little thread would be great as a P.S. right before the download section.

  54. Hey, great job of the program, I’m going to give it a go on Lion.

    Just wondering if there is a way to disable the led indicator according to the app. Like i don’t mind it if its on when I’m messing around on photo booth, but on FaceTime it gets annoying after a while.

    Thanks

    1. Jimmy: My understanding is that the LED is controlled by the iSight driver. I’m not aware of how modify the behaviour of the LED.

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