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HomeTechHow to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Webcam

How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Webcam

How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Webcam

Julian Chokkattu

Tired of looking like a pixelated blob on your Zoom calls? Why use that pesky, tiny, low-quality webcam embedded in your laptop when you have a seriously great smartphone camera in your pocket? It has become really easy to use your smartphone as a webcam these days, and some options don’t even require you to plug anything in. We’ve detailed how to do this whether you have an iPhone or Android, on Windows or Mac.

We also have instructions for using a professional camera or GoPro to handle the same task. If you don’t want to fuss with apps, check out our Best Webcams guide.

Updated June 2024: We’ve vetted every pick again, removed older methods, and added steps for Pixel and Motorola phones.

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How to Make a Video Call With Just Your Phone

Before converting your smartphone into a webcam for your computer, the obvious thing might be to try using your smartphone to run a video meeting. Services like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams generally have Android and iPhone apps available. All you need to do is install the app, log in, and use your phone’s selfie camera and microphone to participate in the meeting.

Whether you do this or follow our methods below, invest in a small tripod to prop your phone up so you don’t have to balance it against a pile of books. The Joby GripTight is a popular and affordable tripod with legs that can contort to stay stable on almost any surface, though a height-adjustable tripod like this might be a better option. Lume Cube’s Panel Mini is also a nice way to illuminate your face.

Ways to Use Your Phone as a Webcam

You can use a videoconferencing app on your phone if you quickly need to sit in on a meeting and chime in now and then, but you’ll need a better system if you’re presenting and have to share your screen. That’s where it could help to convert your smartphone into a webcam.

General tip: Make sure your preferred videoconferencing app is closed when installing a webcam client on your desktop PC or laptop. You may need to relaunch the app or restart your computer to get it all working.

How to Use Any Phone as a Webcam for Mac or Windows

The solution that works—whether you have an iPhone, Android, Mac, or Windows, in any combination—is a service called Reincubate Camo. It’s compatible with more than 40 video-calling apps, from Google Meet and Zoom to FaceTime and Discord. The steps below will work if you’re trying to connect an Android to a Mac, an iPhone to a Windows PC, or vice versa.

Screenshot of Reincubate Camo Webcam app featuring woman smiling

Photograph: Reincubate Camo

Steps to Set Up Camo:

  1. Download the Camo app on your Mac or Windows machine. Then download the app on iOS or Android. Android phones need to be running version 7.0 and up, and iPhones need to be on iOS 12 or later. It’ll work with Windows 7 (64-bit) or newer, and macOS 10.13 or later. (Camo also works with iPads.)
  2. Launch the app on your PC and smartphone. Camo supports wireless video transfer, so all you need to do is press the Wi-Fi icon in the Camo app on your phone (after permitting it to use your microphone and camera), and a QR code scanner should pop up. In the desktop client, click the drop-down menu under Device and choose Pair a Device. You should see a QR code. Scan it and your phone should connect immediately. Skip to step four if this is working.
  3. If you don’t want to go the wireless route, plug in a cable from your phone to your computer—make sure it’s a data-supported cable (not all USB-C cables support data transfer). (If you have issues, try another cable.) For Android phones connecting to a Windows PC, you’ll need to enable USB debugging mode. To do this, head to Settings > About Phone and then tap Build Number seven times to enable Developer mode. Once turned on, you can find it in Settings > System > Developer Mode, though some of the navigation menus may differ based on your Android phone. Scroll down to find USB Debugging and toggle it on. You might see a pop-up asking whether you want to allow USB debugging. If it’s not working, unplug the cable and plug it back in. Connecting an Android to a Mac? Turn USB debugging off. If you never turned it on, you should be good to go, or head to Developer mode again and turn it off. iPhones connecting to Windows PCs or Macs shouldn’t require additional steps (press Trust if the pop-up appears on your phone).
  4. You should now start seeing your rear camera’s feed on the Camo desktop app. If you don’t, and you’re connected via a cord, unplug the cable from your phone, then restart the Camo app on your computer and phone. Plug it back in and you should see the feed.
  5. Go to your video conferencing app’s device settings and choose Camo as the video camera, and your phone camera’s feed should pop up. You can also change the default microphone to Camo if you want to use your phone as a mic.

You get quite a few options to choose from in the Camo desktop app to customize the video feed. That includes 720p video quality and zoom options, and you can remove the watermark. Much of this is free, but unfortunately, you’ll need to pay for Camo Pro for several nifty features, like 4K recording, the ability to switch lenses, and Portrait mode (iPhone owners are likely better off using Apple’s Continuity Camera, which we detail further below). Camo offers a few payment options: a lifetime license ($100), an annual subscription ($50), or a monthly subscription ($9).

How to Use iPhone as a Webcam for Mac With Continuity Camera

Apple’s Continuity Camera lets you use your iPhone as a webcam for your Mac—no third-party software required. Your iPhone needs to be on iOS 16 or later, and your Mac needs to be on macOS 13 Ventura or later. (iOS 16 isn’t available for the iPhone 7 or older, so you’ll need to upgrade your device.)

When you open a video-calling app with your iPhone nearby, you’ll see a pop-up explaining that you can use your iPhone as a webcam. The first time I tried to switch the camera it didn’t work, but a restart of my phone and MacBook did the trick.

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