Why Isn't FaceTime Working When I Make Calls?

Kids using Facetime
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The FaceTime video calling feature is one of the flashiest and most exciting features of the iOS and Mac platforms. As Apple likes to demonstrate, it's as simple as tapping the FaceTime icon when making a call and suddenly you're looking at the person you're talking to.

But what if it's not that simple and you're not seeing anything at all? What are some common causes that prevent FaceTime from working?

Why FaceTime Isn't Working When You Make Calls

There are a few reasons the FaceTime button might not light up as active, show up as an option when you make a call, or let you receive calls:

  1. FaceTime has to be turned on — In order to use FaceTime, it must be enabled (If you turned it on when you set up your device, you shouldn't need to worry about this, but if FaceTime isn't working, check this setting). Do this by tapping the Settings app. Scroll down to FaceTime (or Phone in iOS 4). Slide the FaceTime slider to On/Green.
  2. Missing Phone Number or Email Address — Someone can't call you if you don't have a phone number. FaceTime works the same way. You need to have a phone number or email address that people can use to reach you set up in the FaceTime settings. You do this as part of setting up your device, but if this info gets deleted or unchecked, it can cause problems. Go to Settings -> FaceTime and make sure that you have a phone number or email address, or both, checked in the You Can Be Reached By Facetime At section. If you don't, add them.
  1. FaceTime calls have to be on Wi-Fi (iOS 4 and 5 only) – Some phone carriers did not always allow FaceTime calls over their networks (presumably because a video call would require a lot of bandwidth and, as we know, AT&T's got something of a bandwidth shortage). If you're not connected to a Wi-Fi network when you place the call, you won't be able to use FaceTime. This is not true if you're running iOS 6 or higher. Starting with iOS 6, FaceTime works on 3G/4G, too, assuming your carrier supports it. 
  1. Your carrier must support it — If you're trying to make a FaceTime call over 3G or 4G (rather than Wi-Fi), your phone carrier needs to support FaceTime. Major carriers do, but not every phone company that sells the iPhone offers FaceTime over cellular. Check to see if your carrier supports it.
  2. You need to be connected to a network — If your device isn't connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network, you won't be able to use FaceTime.
  3. Calls must be between compatible devices – If you're calling someone on an older iPhone or other kind of cell phone, FaceTime won't be an option for you. The person you're calling needs to have an iPhone 4 or higher, a 4th generation iPod touch or newer, an iPad 2 or newer, or a modern Mac in order to use FaceTime, since those models have a user-facing camera to allow the person you're calling to see you and run the correct software. There is no version of FaceTime for Android or Windows.
  4. Users could be blocked (iOS 7 and up) — It's possible to block users from calling and FaceTiming you. If you're not able to FaceTime someone, or can't receive their calls, you may have blocked them (or vice versa). Check by going to Settings -> FaceTime -> Blocked. There you'll see a list of anyone whose calls you've blocked. If the person you want to FaceTime is there, simply remove them from your Blocked list and you'll be ready to chat.
  1. FaceTime app is missing — If the FaceTime app or feature is missing from your device entirely, it could be that the app has been turned off using Content Restrictions. To check this, go to Settings, then tap on General, and tap on Restrictions. If Restrictions are turned on, look for the FaceTime or Camera options (turning off Camera also turns off FaceTime). If a restriction is turned on for either one, turn it off by moving the slider to White/Off.

If FaceTime isn't working when you use the Phone app, you can also try the standalone FaceTime app that comes on iOS 7 and up.

If you meet these requirements, you should be able to have a video call in no time.

If you meet the requirements and none of these steps help, you may have other issues with your phone or network connection that need to be investigated.

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