I love using FaceTime, especially with friends and family that live overseas. It’s by far the easiest and cheapest way to connect with them to learn all the latest happenings in their lives. And we all love that we get to see each other using our iDevice’s or Mac’s camera.
It’s wonderful to show and tell everything that’s going on. When the folks you care about have Apple devices, FaceTime is the go-to app for live conversations, so when you or your loved ones experience FaceTime not working in iOS 11 or if you discover FaceTime not available, it totally stinks!
- FaceTime, What the Heck is That?
- New Stuff!
- Sometimes It’s Not You; It’s Apple!
- Of course, sometimes it really is you!
- The Apple Rule of Thumb: Update!
- Check FaceTime is ON
- Use The Same Apple ID on your devices
- Sign Out and Back In Again
- Stuck on Activation?
- Live Photos Not Working on FaceTime?
- Why Can’t I FaceTime Certain Contacts? Are You Blocking or Blocked?
- Try iMessaging First!
- Check Your Date & Time
- Restart Your Device
- Update DNS
- Change Your Apple ID Password
- FaceTime Not Ringing When Somebody Calls?
- FaceTime Won’t Connect or is Continuously “Connecting”
- Is FaceTime Not Recognizing Your Phone Number?
- iPhone Stuck on FaceTime?
- For Macs Only–Using a Firewall?
- Wrapping It Up!
FaceTime, What the Heck is That?
For those not in the know, FaceTime lets you call anybody with an Apple iDevice or Mac and lets you talk to each other over the internet for free (well, sort of–there is that bill you pay for internet services.)
If you need to set-up FaceTime, check out Andrew’s article, Using FaceTime: How Easy It Is!
With that outta the way, here are some of the things my family and I do when FaceTime’s not working the way it’s supposed to.
So let’s get to it!
Using a Different iOS version?
- See this article for problems with iOS 11 FaceTime
- If you’re using iOS 10 and experiencing FaceTime problems, please see this article
- And if you’re still using iOS 9 and below, check out this article to fix your iOS 9 and below FaceTime problems
- How to Fix FaceTime / iMessage Waiting for Activation
- How-To Make FaceTime Audio Calls with iOS and Macs
- FaceTime Not Working iOS 10, Tips to Fix
- FaceTime not working; how to troubleshoot FaceTime to fix your problems
Getting to the good parts, FaceTime in iOS 11 brings Live Photos to its portfolio. So, now with iOS 11, you can take Live Photos during your FaceTime video chats.
No not earth-shattering news but certainly a feature some iFolks wanted. It only works on iPhones and iDevices capable of taking Live Photos, so this feature ain’t for all of us!
And if you would rather NOT have someone take Live Photos of you, there’s a way to disable this feature. Go to Settings > FaceTime > and toggle OFF FaceTime Live Photos–so no one can capture you during any FaceTime video calls.
And sorry folks but FaceTime’s still just for Apple users! I keep hoping that Apple releases an Android FaceTime App–and many folks thought that this year was THAT YEAR. But no, still no FaceTime or iMessage for all those Android users. And no group chat either…
Sometimes It’s Not You; It’s Apple!
FaceTime is one of those Apple Services that needs Apple Servers to run properly. So before trying a bunch of stuff to troubleshoot, check out Apple’s System Status Page and see if FaceTime is currently experiencing problems or down.
When everything is kosher, you see a large green dot next to it. If you see anything else, like a yellow caution sign or an exclamation point, there’s a problem. When there’s an issue, Apple creates links and provides updated information such as current status, approximate time problem first occurred, the percentage of users impacted, and so forth.
The message is simple: Check Apple System Status Page first–always!
Of course, sometimes it really is you!
Remember that FaceTime (and pretty much most social apps) only work when you are connected to the internet via WiFi or a cellular/mobile network.
That signal must be strong enough to deliver video and audio. So if you’re connected via WiFi, try another network or try using cellular/mobile (just remember that you may incur data overage fees.)
Or if you’re connecting via cellular/mobile, try a WiFi network instead (and enjoy relatively “free” conversations with friends and family.)
The Apple Rule of Thumb: Update!
Okay, Apple’s number one troubleshooting tip is to ensure that your operating system’s software is up-to-date.
For iDevice users, that’s your iOS. Visit the app store or go to Settings > General > Software Update and see if an update’s available. If so, go ahead and update iDevice.
Just make sure you backup before performing ANY update.
FaceTime not working on Mac? For Mac users, your operating system is your macOS (or for older Macs, your OS X). To Check for an update, visit your Mac App Store and tap on the Updates tab.
Once updated, check if FaceTime is working again. If FaceTime’s not working, keep moving down this list of tips.
Check FaceTime is ON
Okay, this may be a Homer Simpson moment, but it’s often the issue with either the sender or receiver–they don’t have FaceTime switched ON!
So, head on over to Settings > FaceTime and check that FaceTime is toggled on (green.) If not, toggle it on and sign in with your Apple ID and password.
And while you’re there, check that your phone number, email, and Apple ID is listed underneath “You can be reached by FaceTime at.” If not, add your email addresses.
For Macs, open FaceTime and turn it on. Check your FaceTime preferences. If not already signed into iCloud, enter your Apple ID and password to start the activation process.
If you’re trying to use FaceTime over cellular, check that Use Cellular Data is on for FaceTime. Go to Settings > Cellular > Use Cellular Data For and turn on FaceTime.
Not Finding the FaceTime App?
If you don’t even see the FaceTime app, check that you’ve installed FaceTime by visiting the app store. In case FaceTime isn’t installed, search for “FaceTime” in the App Store and install it by tapping the cloud icon.
If you have installed FaceTime, and you don’t see the app, check that both Camera and FaceTime aren’t restricted by going to Settings > General > Restrictions or Disable Restrictions completely.
Use The Same Apple ID on your devices
To get the most of out FaceTime, check that all your FaceTime accounts are using the same Apple ID.
For iDevices, tap Settings > FaceTime and verify your Apple ID
For Mac OS
Click FaceTime > Preferences. Check your Apple ID and make sure the Enable this account box next to it is ticked.
If any of your devices don’t match, sign out and then sign on again using the same Apple ID for all your iDevices and computers.
Sign Out and Back In Again
Sometimes, just signing out and back in again fixes your troubles. Doing this simple action forces Apple FaceTime Servers to refresh your device authentication.
For iDevices, go to Settings > FaceTime > and toggle OFF. Wait 30 seconds. Toggle back ON.
For Macs, open FaceTime’s Top Menu > Turn FaceTime OFF. Wait a bit. Then tap the Turn On button within FaceTime’s on-screen app.
Stuck on Activation?
Are you seeing the spinning circle with the message “waiting on activation,” but after minutes, even hours, that message remains? If so, you’re probably stuck on FaceTime Activation.
Quick Tips When Stuck on Activation
- Try toggling both FaceTime & Messages OFF, wait for 30seonds, and toggle both back ON. Go to Settings > FaceTime (and Messages > iMessage) > Toggle OFF then ON
- Make sure that your Apple ID lists your iPhone’s phone number and NOT a landline number (if ye have one)
- Go to Settings > Apple ID Profile > Name, Phone Number, Email > Reachable At
- Edit information if necessary so your iPhone and email is listed
- Once updated, toggle FaceTime OFF and Back ON
- Reset All Settings. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings
- Removes WiFi passwords and any personalized iPhone settings
For more tips, read our article on Activation problems with FaceTime and iMessage.
Live Photos Not Working on FaceTime?
First of all, both you and the other person on the call must use macOS High Sierra or iOS 11 to capture a Live Photo in FaceTime.
If you’re not getting this feature to work, the chances are that the person you’re calling isn’t using High Sierra or iOS 11. Verify that they are before further troubleshooting.
Also, FaceTime Live Photos requires that you open your Photos app at least once before trying to take a FaceTime Live Photo. So open your Photos app if you haven’t opened it before.
The reason? Your Live Photos requires the Photos app to have a default library in-place before it can take and save any pictures.
It appears that FaceTime can only take Live Photos when the person on the other end of your FaceTime call also enables their iDevice’s FaceTime Live Photos.
For iOS 11 users, go to Settings > FaceTime > Toggle ON FaceTime Live Photos. For Mac users with High Sierra, open FaceTime and go to FaceTime > Preferences and tick the checkbox next to “Allow Live Photos to be captured during Video calls.”
Without both phones or devices enabling this FaceTime Live Photos feature, it won’t work. So get your friends and family members with iDevices to toggle this setting on (Settings > FaceTime > FaceTime Live Photos) and make sure you have it on too. Then do a test.
When it’s working, both you and the person you’re calling receive a notification that a Live Photo was taken. Then, that Live Photo saves directly into your Photos library. Hopefully, that quick tip solved any issues with FaceTime’s Live Photo.
Why Can’t I FaceTime Certain Contacts? Are You Blocking or Blocked?
If you’re not able to FaceTime only a few people and FaceTime not working for certain contacts, there might be a block in place on your phone (or theirs.)
Go to Settings > FaceTime > Call Blocking & Identification > Blocked Contacts and check that list for anyone whose calls your experiencing problems with.
If the person’s there, remove them from your Blocked list. Ask that person to do the same and check their iPhones or iDevices for FaceTime blocks.
And don’t forget that FaceTime only works on Apple devices! No Android or Windows support–not yet!
Try iMessaging First!
Ask your friend or family member to send you an iMessage before you (or they) try to FaceTime with you. This might jump start Apple Servers, your router, and your iDevice to get things going!
Check Your Date & Time
One of the biggest reasons FaceTime experiences problems is because Apple’s FaceTime Servers can’t verify the correct time.
If Apple Servers find a mismatch between your device’s date or time and their server’s time (for your current location), FaceTime and other services using the servers won’t work properly, and verification fails.
So be mindful that the time your Mac and iDevices display is not only for your convenience but is a basic requirement for many of OS X’s services.
Look at Date & Time
- For iDevices, it’s best to let Apple do the heavy lifting so turn on Set Automatically in Settings > General > Date & Time. This feature automatically sets your date and time based on your current time zone
- To check that your device shows the correct time zone, go to Settings > General > Date & Time > Time Zone
- For Macs, go to System Preferences > Date & Time > select Set date and time automatically
- Check your Mac’s time zone in that same window System Preferences > Date & Time > select Time Zone tab
If after setting things to automatic, your date, time, or time zone are incorrect then manually set these. Once you enter the correct time and date manually, try FaceTime again.
Are Apple’s FaceTime Servers Storing My Info?
If you’re startled to learn that FaceTime uses Apple Servers to transmit your data instead of point-to-point transfer, rest assured that your information is protected by end-to-end encryption across all your devices.
And Apple has no way to decrypt your FaceTime data when it’s in transit between your device and the other party’s device. That means Apple cannot look at ANY of your communications. And FaceTime calls are NOT STORED on any servers.
Restart Your Device
A reboot often fixes these types of issues. This holds true for Macs and iDevices.
To restart a Mac, go to the Apple Menu > Restart (or Shut Down and then power up again.) For iDevices, press the power button until the slider appears, then slide to power off. Power up as normal.
Try a Forced Restart
How-To Perform a Forced Restart on iPhone models
- On an iPhone 6S or below plus all iPads & iPod Touches, press Home and Power at the same time until you see the Apple logo
- For iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus: Press and hold both the Side and Volume Down buttons for at least 10 seconds, until you see the Apple logo
- On an iPhone X or iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Then press and promptly release the Volume Down button. Finally, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo
If FaceTime’s still not working, try and change your DNS settings to Google’s open DNS.
For iDevices, tap Settings > WiFi > YOUR NETWORK’S NAME > Configure DNS > Manual > Add Server > enter 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 > Save.
Make sure you delete your current DNS by tapping on the red minus sign and pressing Delete.
For Macs, click System Preferences > Network > Select YOUR NETWORK’S NAME > Advanced > DNS Tab > click the + button to add Google DNS, enter 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. Click OK then Apply.
If you don’t like Google’s Public DNS, try OpenDNS instead. Follow instructions above and enter 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 in the DNS tab. Click OK then Apply.
Change Your Apple ID Password
A few readers discovered this tip!
After trying a bunch of things from resetting their network to toggling FaceTime OFF/ON a few times, as a last ditch effort before calling Apple Support, they changed their Apple ID passwords and wouldn’t you know, it worked!
So if you’ve tried the tips above with no success, give this idea a go and change your Apple ID password. Just remember to update all your devices with that new password–your Macs too and if you use iTunes on a Windows PC, there too!
FaceTime Not Ringing When Somebody Calls?
If you see missed calls on iDevices, but never heard the darn thing ring, check that “Push” is enabled in your Mail settings.
Go to Settings > Accounts & Passwords and make sure that Fetch New Data is set to Push. If not, update it. Apple’s servers need to have a recent internet address for the “location” of your iDevice to work!
Also, make sure that your sound is up, mute is not on via the side switch if applicable, and do not disturb (DND) is disabled.
If you want DND on, check that you allow calls from FaceTime. Go to Settings > Do Not Disturb > Phone > Allow Calls From > Everyone or All Contacts
And check your Notifications too. Go to Settings > Notifications > FaceTime > Allow Notifications.
FaceTime Won’t Connect or is Continuously “Connecting”
If you are not able to connect to FaceTime or get the message “Connecting” without FaceTime ever opening, try reactivating your account.
For iOS, go to Settings > FaceTime and toggle the switch OFF, wait a few moments, and then toggle it back ON. A message appears “waiting for activation.” Enter your Apple ID and passcode if needed.
If that doesn’t work, reset your WiFi network. Go to Settings > General > Reset and select Reset Network Settings.
This process resets your network settings back to factory defaults, so you’ll need to enter your WiFi password(s) again.
For Mac OS
Open FaceTime > Preferences. And turn FaceTime off. Wait 30 seconds or so and turn FaceTime back on.
If it’s still not working, go back to Preferences. Choose Settings and sign out of your Apple ID. Wait a few moments and then sign back in with your Apple ID.
Is FaceTime Not Recognizing Your Phone Number?
Some of our iOS 11 testers reported this issue. When opening FaceTime, your iPhone shows your email BUT NOT your phone number!
Try these tips that worked for our testers (perform one at a time and then test)
- Go to contacts change your phone number from HOME to Phone then turned off FaceTime and turn back on
- Go to Settings > General Settings > Reset > Reset All Settings
- No data is lost, but WiFi passwords and personal setting preferences are reset
- Correct the area code on your Apple ID account
- Check that you don’t have any outstanding debts with the App Store, iTunes, or any Apple product/services
- Remove your SIM card, wait a few minutes, and replace
- Log out of all Apple services that require Apple ID and password
- Force Restart (holding Power & Home or Volume Down until Apple Logo appears)
- Log back into FaceTime with Apple ID
- Log out of all Apple services that require Apple ID and password AND reset your network settings (you lose all WiFi passwords so write these down first)
- To reset network go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
- Force Restart
- Log into your network
- Log into FaceTime
- Put someone else’s SIM card in and see if FaceTime recognizes the email and phone number
- If so, you need a new SIM card. Contact your carrier
iPhone Stuck on FaceTime?
A few of our readers tell us that their iPhones, particularly the iPhone X, get stuck on FaceTime and they cannot exit the app. It seems that there is a FaceTime glitch that causes this error.
Fix When FaceTime Won’t End
- Close the FaceTime app by double pressing Home or swiping up the Home Gesture Bar. Locate the FaceTime App Preview and swipe it off the top of your screen to force close
- Shut down your device via Settings > General > Shut Down
- Force restart your device
For Macs Only–Using a Firewall?
Yes, you can use FaceTime with most networks even one that’s behind a firewall! But you might need to enable certain ports. Check that you enable the following ports for FaceTime when using a firewall.
Firewall Ports FaceTime
- 80 (TCP)
- 443 (TCP)
- 3478 through 3497 (UDP)
- 5223 (TCP)
- 16384 through 16387 (UDP)
- 16393 through 16402 (UDP)
Let’s try using a Terminal command!
Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal and type the following: sudo killall VDCAssistant hit enter, type your admin password, and hit enter again. Close Terminal and Restart. This fixes problems with FaceTime and your built-in camera.
If not comfortable using Terminal, Use Activity Monitor
- Open Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
- Enter VDC in the search box
- Find and select VDC Assistant process
- Tap the X in the upper right corner of the window to Quit the VDC Assistant
Try Safe Mode
Finally, if killing the VDC Assistant didn’t do the trick, restart your MacBook in Safe Mode by holding down the Shift Key when you restart. Release the Shift key when you see the login window.
Safe Mode runs through a series of diagnostics checks. Once it finishes all these checks, restart normally and see if the problem is fixed.
Wrapping It Up!
Hopefully, one of these tips helped you work out your problems with FaceTime not working in iOS 11.
If not, let us know in the comments–we check these regularly and reply if we additional tips. And if you figure something out, please let us know so we can share that tip with others–a lot of us have the same issues.
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.