How to use Apple FaceTime like a pro

If you reside within the Apple ecosystem, your preferred videoconferencing method is probably FaceTime, Apple’s video-calling software that lets desktop and mobile users make video calls over both Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Unlike Windows users, who normally need to resort to Skype, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and countless other videoconferencing apps, FaceTime just works for Mac users. That means there’s no need for a special account or screen name in order to access smooth conferencing with 256-bit end-to-end encryption. All you need is the contact information — phone number or email address — of the person you want to contact and you’re ready to start yakking. We’ll show you how it’s done.

FaceTime system requirements

Facetime works over Wi-Fi or via your cellular data plan. You can use FaceTime via Wi-Fi on an iPhone 4 or later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 2 or later, all iPad mini models, and iPod touch 4th generation or later. Only the 5th generation and later of iPod touch supports FaceTime audio calling. When using your cellular data plan, FaceTime works on an iPhone 4s or later, all iPad Pro models, and iPad 3rd generation or later.

To make FaceTime audio and video calls on your Mac, you need to run MacOS 10.9 or later, have an operative internet connection, and sign in to FaceTime with your free Apple ID. You also need a built-in or connected microphone for audio only and a built-in or connected camera for video calls. Recipients of FaceTime communications must have a Mac running MacOS 10.9.2 or later, a built-in or connected microphone, an iOS device running iOS 7 or later, or an iPadOS device.

Group FaceTime video calls require iOS 12.1.4 or later, or iOS/iPadOS on an iPhone 6s or later, iPad Pro or later, iPad Air 2 or later, iPad mini 4 or later, iPad (5th generation) or later, or iPod touch (7th generation). Earlier iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models that support iOS 12.1.4 can join FaceTime group chats via audio only.

Launching and activating FaceTime

FaceTime Mac interface

FaceTime is built into MacOS and iOS. iPhones automatically register your phone number for FaceTime upon activation, but you’ll need to enable FaceTime if using the iPad or iPod touch apps, or the Mac desktop app.

  • Launch FaceTime from your Applications folder.
  • Type in your Apple ID and password or click Create New Account at the left-hand column and fill in the information — name, email, location — and click Next.
  • Choose the phone number and email addresses you want to associate with your FaceTime account and allow Apple to automatically verify your account information.
  • On an iPhone, navigate to the main Settings, scroll down, tap the FaceTime option, and toggle the slider directly right of FaceTime.
  • Afterward, view your listed phone number and add any email address you want to be associated with your FaceTime account before allowing Apple to verify the information.
  • You can also choose which email address or phone number you want to appear during outgoing FaceTime calls at the bottom of the menu.

Making a FaceTime video call

There are several ways to make a FaceTime call, and all of them depend on the device you’re using. If you are using an iPad, iPhone, or the FaceTime app for Mac, you first need to add a person as a contact using the FaceTime or Contacts app before you can place a call to them.

On iPhone

  • Call via Contacts: Tap the blue FaceTime video icon directly right of the FaceTime option when viewing a contact to invite the other party to a FaceTime video call.
  • Call via Messages: Tap the ID circle at the top of the contact name to invite the other party to a FaceTime video call.
  • Call via phone: Tap the circled FaceTime video icon located at the bottom-center during a phone call to invite the other party to a FaceTime video call.
  • Call via Siri: Assuming Siri is activated and Allow Hey Siri is enabled, you can hold the Home button for two seconds, or invoke Siri by saying “Hey Siri” and then “FaceTime video [contact name]” to invite someone to a FaceTime video call.

On iPad, iPod touch, or MacOS

Facetime contacts on Mac
  • Call via Contacts: Tap or click the FaceTime video icon directly right of the FaceTime option when viewing a contact to invite the other party to a FaceTime video call.
  • Call via FaceTime: Tap or click a contact and tap or click the dark-gray FaceTime button located in the right-hand column to invite someone to a FaceTime video call. Alternatively, click the blue FaceTime video icon directly right of the contact’s mobile number if available.

Make a FaceTime audio call

FaceTime audio-only calls are essentially voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls similar to Skype. They resemble phone calls, but with higher-quality audio.

On iPhone

  • Call via Contacts: Tap the blue FaceTime audio icon directly right of the FaceTime option when viewing a contact to invite someone to a FaceTime audio call.
  • Call via Messages: Tap the ID circle at the top of the contact name, followed by the FaceTime audio icon directly underneath. Then, select FaceTime Audio from the pop-up menu to invite someone to a FaceTime audio call.
  • Call via Siri: With Siri activated, and Allow Hey Siri enabled, you can hold the Home button for two seconds or invoke Siri by saying “Hey Siri” and then “FaceTime audio [contact name]” to invite someone to a FaceTime audio call.
  • Call via Apple Watch: Say “Hey Siri,” press and hold the Digital Crown, or tap the Siri widget on the Siri watch face, and say “FaceTime [contact name].” Or launch the Phone app on your Apple Watch and tap Contacts > contact name > phone icon > FaceTime Audio to voice chat with someone.

On iPad, iPod touch, or FaceTime for MacOS

FaceTime Audio Mac
  • Call via Contacts: Tap or click the FaceTime audio icon to the left of the FaceTime option when viewing your contacts to invite someone to a FaceTime audio call.
  • Call via FaceTime: Tap or click a contact from the Contacts list, and tap or click the FaceTime Audio button to invite someone to a FaceTime call.

Making a FaceTime group call

FaceTime on the iPhone or iPad supports group conversations between three or more people, and can also support a true videoconferencing environment, with up to 32 participants to a group chat.

Call via Contacts: Launch FaceTime and tap Add at the top-right corner. Enter the names of your contacts, phone numbers, or emails. Tap Audio or Video to start your FaceTime call. Add up to 32 participants.

Call via Messages: Start a group FaceTime from scratch or from an existing group conversation. Tap the contacts at the top of the group conversation. Tap FaceTime, then start your call.

Call on a MacOS device: Click the sidebar button during a FaceTime call, select Add Person, then type in a name, email address, or phone number and click Add.

Need more details? Check out the Apple Support Center for additional information on how to enable and use FaceTime for both individual and group conversations.

After you’ve tackled video messaging, check out our comprehensive guides on how to use iCloud and how to use Find My iPhone, along with our most recent picks for the best iPhone apps.

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