Essential Tips and Tricks for Using FaceTime for Mac

Comb your hair and check your teeth for spinach—these tips and tricks will help you start video-chatting up a storm from your Mac!

FaceTime for Mac, introduced at October’s exciting Back to the Mac event, finally lets Mac users video-chat with people using an iPhone 4 or fourth-gen iPod touch. FaceTime for Mac is still in beta, but it’s free and easy to use. How easy? So easy we can explain it all in one page…

State Your Preferences

FaceTime on the Mac works just as it does on the iPod touch. You sign in with your Apple ID (the account you use for the iTunes Store), and people who have that email address in their Contacts list can click your name to call you.

But everyone we know has multiple email addresses, and maybe the address you use for your Apple ID isn’t the one your friends and family use to correspond with you. No worries—in FaceTime > Preferences, you can add more email addresses to your account by clicking Add Another Email. You can also specify which address shows up when you call someone with the Caller ID menu.

FaceTime for Mac doesn’t quit when you close the application. It’s always on standby. If someone calls you and you don’t have FaceTime open, it’ll automatically launch and show you a preview window where you can accept or deny the call. If you want to turn FaceTime all the way off, use the On/Off switch in FaceTime > Preferences.

In-Call Controls

When you’re chatting, FaceTime only shows your chat, hiding the controls (à la QuickTime X) until you mouse over the window. When you do, you’ll see buttons for Mute, End, and Full Screen along the bottom of the window, shown in the screenshot on the far right.

But you get a few more controls in the menu bar’s Video menu, shown in the screenshot on the near right. You can mute the call here too or switch from portrait orientation to landscape. (If your chat buddy is using an iPhone or iPod touch, the orientation will automatically adjust based on how they’re holding their device.) You can also switch which microphone you’re using for your call—although why audio is under the Video menu is anyone’s guess.

Keyboard Shortcuts

If you don’t want to use the menus, let your fingers do the talking with keyboard shortcuts. Press Command-R to switch orientations, portrait to landscape and vice versa. To jump right into full-screen view, press Command-Shift-F. Sign out of FaceTime completely with Command-K, although you have to confirm that in a dialog. So to turn FaceTime off and quit the app, it’s three keystrokes: Command-K, Return (to confirm the signoff), Command-Q.