Bugs & Fixes: Get Flash Player to work with an iSight camera

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Open a Web page designed to work with Adobe’s Flash Player and you can get an iSight camera (the ones built into every recent MacBook, iMac and Cinema Display) to function within Safari or any other Flash-compatible Web browser. Although this capability has been around for quite some time, I only first tried it last week. My initial experience was disappointing. I could not get it to work. Period. It would not work in Safari or FireFox. It would not work on my MacBook Pro or my Mac Pro. It would not work on a train or in a plane, said Sam I Am.

Seeking help, I went to Adobe’s Support site. It told me to make sure I was running the latest version of the Flash Player plug-in. I was; I had version of Flash Player.plugin installed in /Library/Internet Plug-Ins. I was further instructed to confirm that no other application that accesses the camera (such as iChat) was currently open. Check. Beyond that, Adobe had nothing useful to offer. (If the ultimate solution is on its site somewhere, it is well hidden!)

Using Google, I widened my search. Among the results, there was a general consensus that I needed to change the preference setting for the type of camera Flash expected to find. Several different ways of doing this were suggested; none of the ways I initially tried worked. Apparently, a method that may have worked a few years ago, when a Web site posted its advice, no longer applied to the current software.

Finding the right advice for the latest Flash Player took a bit of time. Eventually, I did find a couple of sites that pointed me in the right direction. Putting it all together, here is what you need to do to get an iSight camera to work in a Web browser:

  1. Go to any Web page that uses Flash to work with a webcam. As a test, I chose the webcam page from fonomo.com, a site that offers free video conferencing.
  2. After the page loads, an Adobe Flash Player Settings dialog (the top image) pops up.
  3. If you now click to Allow, the dialog will vanish but the camera will not activate and no image will appear. That’s where I had been getting stuck. The trick is to Control-click (right-click) on Allow. This brings up a contextual menu; select the Settings item and the dialog shifts to display the middle screenshot.
  4. From here, click on the webcam icon button (the one with the cursor over it in the middle image). This brings up yet another screen — featuring a drop-down menu with three choices of camera types. Change the selection from the DV Video default to USB Video Class Video (as seen in the bottom image).
  5. Click the Close button and you return to the initial Settings dialog. From here, click Allow (finally!). If all has gone well, the iSight camera will turn on and you will see yourself in the Web page’s webcam window. Success!
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