Disable built in iSight under Leopard?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by LinMac, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. LinMac macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    I can usually find what I need to know by searching, but so far this problem hasn't been so easy to solve.

    I want to disable the built in iSight camera in my Macbook Pro (C2D) via software instead of some unsightly tape. I'm aware of the possibility of a rootkit or other malicious software being able to override a software lockout, but in truth if the software was able to get that far I might have bigger problems.

    This is partly to keep it from being used via iChat and other software unintentionally. I am forgetful sometimes and I wouldn't want to subject others to my morning face, before I shower, by mistake. ;)

    I have tried to remove the following from the system followed by a reboot, but the camera is still usable in iMovie and in "System Preferences -> Accounts -> Edit Picture -> Take a video snapshot":


    when removing that did not work I tried to remove the entire folder:


    in the end I removed all of the following:

    /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component/ (the entire folder)

    but this still does not disable the built in iSight even after rebooting the system.

    I am really out of ideas on what could possibly be keeping it enabled, but I hope someone here has some ideas. :D
  2. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    Hopefully this is not against the rules because I am rather desperate for an answer.. bump. :apple:
  3. wesleyh macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2007
    Before we help you, please upload a picture of your morning face to see if this is indeed a critical issue.
  4. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    No chance. ;)
  5. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    Just an update..

    I just got off the phone with a product specialist at Apple and their suggestion was electrical tape.

    This device can be disabled under Linux and Windows on the Macbook Pro, but it cannot be disabled in the native operating system of the device? That is ridiculous.

    I like OSX, but this is just a bit extreme.

    Does anyone know of a way to disable this device?
  6. benj07 macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2007
    If this was easy to disable through software... Imagine how much easier it would be for someone to hack it. You're safer because you can't manually access the firmware for it (disable it).

    Use the tape.
  7. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    I don't see how making it easy to enable or disable via software is a security feature. Linux has loadable kernel modules and is quite secure, but also allows us to unload these modules when needed using a simple command line tool or configuration files which prevent them from loading at next boot.

    As the root or superuser on the system I should be able to enable or disable functionality as I see fit. :)

    The question is really is it possible to disable the iSight camera via software like we could in Tiger and if not why did Apple not provide us with a way to disable a feature like a camera?
  8. kiwioz macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    This is driving me nuts

    I can not believe this.

    I use a program that has hardware attached that uses a webcam, I now can not use it as I can not find anywhere to delete the dam iSight drivers.

    Please anyone help us find where the drivers are under Leopard so I can turn this dam iSight off.

    Help needed

  9. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    I have posted a similar thread to several Mac forums with the available information, but I haven't gotten any closer to an answer.

    I have taken up trying to find the drivers by greping the system for various strings such as "isight", "iSight", the Product ID, and other strings with no luck.

    This is what I have been able to determine:

    The built in iSight is a USB device connected to the USB High-Speed Bus along with devices such as the Trackpad, IR receiver, Bluetooth hardware, and any USB device you connect such as an external hard drive.

    Removing any of the following from the system does not disable or cause it to have any problems with it's operations:

    /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component/ (the entire folder)

    I am unable to find more information than this and Apple's level 1 and level 2 support have no information on how to disable the camera other than "put tape over it".
  10. kiwioz macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    Disable built in iSight under Leopard

    Well I just tired by deleting the whole folder /System/Library/QuickTime

    and still the isight cam on but no picture. I started by adding one back at a time

    below is a apple script written by cense@techslaves.org. I have talked to him via email but as yet he has not upgraded to Leopard, so he can not help as yet.

    I modified the script to disable the System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeComponents.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeComponents file and by doing so does not show the video feed.

    The isight still works thou. Apple must have the driver stored somewhere else but I can not find it. I will still keep looking and post back here with any info I find.


    -- Intel Mac iSight Disabler
    -- Tested on OS X 10.4.8-10
    -- Tested on 1st generation MacBook
    -- Version 2.5
    -- All this does is change permission on the USB iSight driver file. From normal 'a+r' and 'u+rx' when enabled to 'a-rwx' when disabled.
    -- cense@techslaves.org

    display dialog "Intel Mac iSight Disabler
    brought to you by techslaves.org.

    Version 2.5

    You need to restart applications which use the iSight driver after applying these settings." buttons {"Enable iSight", "Disable iSight"} with icon stop

    set userChoice to button returned of result

    set iSightDriver to "/System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeComponents.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeComponents"

    if userChoice = "Enable iSight" then
    do shell script "/bin/chmod a+r " & iSightDriver & "; /bin/chmod u+rx " & iSightDriver with administrator privileges
    else if userChoice = "Disable iSight" then
    do shell script "/bin/chmod a-rwx " & iSightDriver with administrator privileges
    end if
  11. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    I just want to add a note.

    Removing the /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeComponents.component/Contents/MacOS/QuickTimeComponents file does seem to disable the built in iSight camera as well as Quicktime and programs such as iMovie. iMovie seems to crash for me after removing the file.

    I've finished running grep on the system. I'm out of ideas on where to look for the driver to remove it.
  12. kiwioz macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    Disable built in iSight under Leopard

    Well try this and tell me what you think.
    Open Photo Booth the iSight turns on then click on the desktop you will notice that the iSight turns off. This would indicate that the drivers are embedded into the framework.

    This is not going to be easy by the looks of things
  13. LinMac thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 28, 2007
    It could also be that the system will activate/deactivate certain devices when switching programs as a security precaution against other user level programs accessing data as it is transfered or to enhance system stability to prevent two programs from attempting to access a device at the same time.

    This is just speculation. I have no evidence of either idea.
  14. techslaves macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2007
    Hi, I'm the author of the script posted by kiwioz and I finally upgraded to Leopard so I'm now able to provide a "fix".

    I've put version 3 of the iSight Disabler up for download on my website, techslaves.org. Here is a link to download the script:


    And if you want a little more information, here is a small write up about it:


    To summarize, it seems Apple created a new driver for the iSight but at the same time maintained the QuickTime-based USB driver as well. So if one driver didn't work, it would use the other. To properly disable the iSight under Leopard all I had to do was kill read permissions on both files.

    This is tested under Photo Booth and QuickTime with 10.5 on a 1st gen Macbook. If you find that this script does not properly disable the iSight under other conditions, please let me know.

    By the way, how I tracked down the file was a pretty easy trick that I learned from being a Linux geek. The "lsof" command lists all open files. So I'd launch Photo Booth, use the command to list open files and grep for Photo Booth, looking at all the files it opens and finding the most likely candidate then testing it out. Simple, but it works.

    Hope this works for you guys.
  15. DarthTreydor macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    seems like a lot of trouble to through to avoid putting a quarter inch piece of tape on.
  16. techslaves macrumors newbie

    Nov 2, 2007
    Meh. I initially wrote the script as an exercise to see if I could implement something in AppleScript after learning about the non-issue that people were concerned about (the local only QT in the browser object).

    Then a few thousand people downloaded it after it went on MacUpdate so I kept supporting it.

    I don't consider writing a few lines of AppleScript to be a lot of trouble and I wouldn't think that users find running a script (especially if you use the Script Menu, 3 clicks total) to be much trouble but I suppose each person has their own views of what's troublesome and what isn't.

    I don't have any paranoid delusions myself but I don't mind pandering to those who do. And hey, some people even found a use for this completely outside of the intended purpose. They use it to disable the internal iSight to use an external one in apps that don't let you choose your video device.
  17. kiwioz macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2007
    Disable built in iSight under Leopard?

    Well Thanks for your hard work..

    I have a problem thou.

    Under Tiger I was still able to use my external USB WebCam.

    After running version 3 of the script that is not posable now.

    Do you have any ides ?

  18. aloevlund macrumors newbie


    Oct 26, 2007
    This might be a stupid question but.. why would you want to disable the camera? I mean, what's the point in usin iChat if not for the video?

  19. WillGonz macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Did you find an answer to this? I am thinking of putting iMacs in medical exam rooms. I don't want people to be able to remotely turn on the camera somehow when a patient is in the room. I might do the QuickTimeUSBVDCDIgitizer.component and a piece of the old silver floppy disc write protect stickers. Yes I still have some to use with my Apple IIGS. Plus users will not have admin rights so no one will be adding it back in.
  20. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Why not just get yourself a few mac minis and LCD monitors? The minis have no physical camera.
  21. WillGonz macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Nah...an iMac is so much cleaner. I plan to mount it on the wall and connect just the power cord. A nice clean look.

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