Your iPhone has long been the best camera you always have with you — and is now usually the only one most people ever have — but it wasn’t until macOS 13 Ventura that Apple took that to the logical limit. Your 2018 or later iPhone (XR or newer) iPhone is the best video camera right now at your fingertips for Mac video conferencing.
Ventura turns your iPhone into a webcam that you can select as easily as a built-in video device on your iMac, MacBook, or MacBook Pro when you use FaceTime, Zoom, or other software that allows video input. This feature extends Continuity Camera, an earlier macOS option for taking photos and scanning documents with a nearby iPhone or iPad. (You’ll need a clip or tripod to position your iPhone, but that little piece of mechanical hardware is all you need.)
The webcam feature has no configuration options except to disable it from your iPhone after selecting it in Ventura. But it does come with a bonus if you have an iPhone 11 or later model with an Ultra Wide camera (not the iPhone SE) and iOS 16 installed. Apple offers Desk View with these models, capturing some of the wide-angle view from that specialized camera and converting the distorted portion into what appears to be a desk view from above.
You invoke Desk View in FaceTime by clicking the Desk View button that appears in the upper-right corner of your macOS FaceTime window during an active session. In another app, click Control Center, click Video Effects, and choose Desk View. FaceTime or Control Center launches a Desk View app.
The Desk View app shows and transforms the area it captures for you. Oddly, the selected area doesn’t appear as a corrected preview, but rather as a trapezoid that you can zoom in on by dragging to the minus or plus ends of a slider to get more (minus is zoom out) or less (plus is zoom in) . When you’re done, click Start Desk View. This now shows the corrected view.
The Desk View app produces a secondary video stream. You can’t directly select it as a camera, like you can with your iPhone in Ventura.
In FaceTime, you have to click the Desk View button, otherwise FaceTime will not share Desk View properly. The person on the other end sees Desk View as a shared screen in the Screen Sharing app, which automatically launches on their side. FaceTime also resizes the window to try to position the display and Desk View correctly.
In any other app, you can select Desk View as the window when sharing screens. For example, if you are using Zoom, in an active session, click the Screen Share button, select Desk View on the Basic tab, and then click Share to share the view.
You can also adjust the crop with the minus/plus buttons of the Desk View app while using it.
FaceTime has certain requirements if you want to stop sharing the Desk View and start it again. Hovering over the close button in Desk View gives you options related to Screen Sharing, such as Stop Screen Sharing. If you choose this, the Desk View app will stop sharing, but you won’t be able to restart it within FaceTime. If you want to stop using Desk View instead, quit the Desk View app. To continue within FaceTime, click the Desk View button and follow the prompts again. Otherwise you get frustrated.
This Mac 911 article answers a question from Macworld reader Bradley.
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