Connecting with FaceTime on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

With Apple’s FaceTime technology, you can video chat with owners of iOS devices and Macs — and if they can run FaceTime, they’re guaranteed to have the right video hardware!

Currently, FaceTime-compatible devices include

  • Macs running OS X Lion or later

  • An iPhone 4/4s or higher running iOS 4.1 or higher

  • A second-generation iPad (or later)

  • A fourth-generation (or later) iPod touch running iOS 4.1 or higher

If you’re running a mobile device using iOS 6 or later, you can use either a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to use FaceTime, and your MacBook requires either a wired or Wi-Fi connection.

To launch FaceTime, click the jaunty-looking video camera icon on the Dock. The first time you use the application, you have to enter your Apple ID and your e-mail address. The folks you chat with on the other end use that same e-mail address to call you via FaceTime. (iPhone 4-series and later owners can be called using their telephone numbers.)

To specify the e-mail addresses and phone numbers that other FaceTime users use to call you, choose FaceTime→Preferences and then enable or disable the checkboxes under the heading You Can Be Reached for FaceTime At. To add a new email address, click the click the Add E-mail button.

After you sign in, FaceTime displays your Recent Call list by default. To initiate a call with any contact, click in the Search box and type the desired name. FaceTime displays icons for audio chat (and, if the contact’s hardware supports it, video chat as well). Click the desired call type that FaceTime should use, and the connection process begins. To return to the Contacts list and choose another person, click the X button that appears at the right side of the Search box.

Apple isn’t satisfied with providing a mere contacts list, however! You can click an entry in the Recent Call list to choose a contact that you’ve called or attempted to call, or has called you within the recent past.

When the call is accepted, you see a large video window with a smaller “picture-in-picture” display. The video from the other person fills the large window, and the video that you’re sending to that person appears in the small display. Click the End icon to end the FaceTime call.

To switch FaceTime into Landscape mode and take advantage of your MacBook’s spiffy widescreen display, choose Video→Use Landscape or press cmd+R. (Why let the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad owners have all the landscape fun?)