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I want to disable my camera. Have it stop working. Have all applications that can use the camera to be unable to use the camera anymore. I would cut it out physically from the device if that wouldn't void the warranty and wouldn't be so brutal and barbaric, but I'd like a software solution. Deleting /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component doesn't help. What can I do?

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Aside: and this is why I love my XO-1. The camera and microphone LEDs are hard-wired to light when the camera/mic are sampling. And since they are tested on boot, I'd know if someone disconnected them. :) –  Broam May 26 '11 at 17:13
    
I have very few bad things to say about Macs really, they work very well, but it's little things like these that can drive users mad. –  rid May 26 '11 at 17:49

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The most absolute way to ensure that iSight will stop working would be to open the macbook up, but I understand not wanting to do so.

I think what you are looking for is the following (type this in the terminal):

sudo launchctl unload -w com.apple.IIDCAssistant.plist

Source: "NSA's Guide to Hardening OSX 10.6"

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It says: launchctl: Couldn't stat("com.apple.IIDCAssistant.plist"): No such file or directory nothing found to unload. The camera is still working. –  rid May 26 '11 at 15:48
    
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.IIDCAssistant.plist works though, but still, the camera is alive. Nothing happened. –  rid May 26 '11 at 15:49
    
Later in that article it mentions removing the following file, which it seems you had already tried. /System/Library/ Quicktime/QuicktimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component –  bacord May 26 '11 at 15:56
    
It also mentions how to remove the internal microphone. Delete the following file /System/Library/Extensions/IOAudioFamily.kext I would be careful doing so though. It seems that this could affect the sound system in general. After a reboot run this command sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions –  bacord May 26 '11 at 15:57
    
Regarding nothing happening, I would do a simple reboot and see if the changes have been made. –  bacord May 26 '11 at 15:58

There's always the low-tech solution of a piece of electrical tape over the camera, or the determined hacker's modification of disconnecting/desoldering the hardware itself.

If your laptop is still under warranty, go for the band-aid over the camera trick. The pad shouldn't scratch the lens.

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Really? I mean, is this the only way? There must be something software that all applications using the camera need to connect to... I don't mind removing or altering anything software as long as I can get the camera off! –  rid May 26 '11 at 15:47
    
I've used the electrical tape method in the past. If the end goal is for the camera to not be usable, this would do it, and if you cut out a nice circle with a hole punch it would fit perfectly on it without damaging or altering anything. If it's not something you want to do for some reason, that's fine, this option has worked well for me in the past though. –  bmbaeb May 26 '11 at 16:30
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Can you be sure that the software you remove isn't reinstalled through an update? If you're paranoid enough to ask about how to disable the camera for all applications, making the camera return meaningless input is just about as good. –  Broam May 26 '11 at 17:12
    
@Broam, ideally I'd like to have a software on / off switch. Run this and get the camera off, run this and get the camera back on. I think this is the only OS I worked with that makes it so incredibly hard to turn off the camera. I really don't find it acceptable to need to alter my Mac physically just so I can do something that should be available via software in an easy way. –  rid May 26 '11 at 17:54
    
Plus, it's not about paranoia, I simply don't want the camera to be on sometimes. I would like to be able to choose when the camera is on and when it's off. Am I really asking too much? –  rid May 26 '11 at 18:02

I haven't this tried yet, but maybe temporarily removing the camera driver/.kext might work.

References:

  1. Macbook iSight firmware loader
  2. How do I uninstall and remove a .kext on Mac OS X?
  3. How to Completely Disable Audio & Sound in Mac OS X
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Building on George's answer, this Hacmac page suggests moving two iSight driver files:

Are you constantly seeing the green light on? Just paranoid? Use these handy terminal commands to disable the iSight camera (be sure to replace YourName with your username!):

sudo mv /System/Library/QuickTime/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component /Users/YourName/Desktop

and

sudo mv /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/CoreMediaIOServicesPrivate.framework/Versions/A/Resources/VDC.plugin /Users/YourName/Desktop

What you have just done is move two drivers for the iSight camera out of their system folders and onto your Desktop. If you wish to reverse this move, you simply change the direction (assuming you haven’t moved the files since then):

sudo mv/Users/YourName/Desktop/QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component/System/Library/QuickTime/

and

sudo mv /Users/YourName/Desktop/VDC.plugin /System/Library/PrivateFramework/CoreMediaIOServicesPrivate.framework/Versions/A/Resources/

If you want to make the iSight stay disabled forever, simply dump the files on your Desktop into the Trash and empty it.

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