Frequently Asked Questions

Common things to do

Please follow these steps if you encounter a problem - either if it's not listed below or if the steps listed there didn't help:

Check your USB cables. Restart macam. Unplug and replug the device. Make sure you have the latest version of Mac OS X. Connect the camera directly (without USB hubs) to a built-in USB port of your computer (not to a third-party host adapter). Check in the release notes, the latest news section and the notes on your camera if it is a known problem.

Problem: No video, no message

Check that your camera is one of the supported cameras.

Message: Camera used by another application

Quit all other running applications. Quit the Classic environment. Unplug and replug your camera. Restart macam.

Message: Not enough USB power

Plug your camera directly into an USB port of your computer or into a self-powered USB hub (one with a power adapter).

Message: Not enough USB bandwidth

Unplug other USB devices or plug them into a different USB port of the computer. Lower the image format, frame rate or increase the compression if available.

Message: Not enough CPU power

Retry grabbing video. If you encounter the problem frequently: Quit other applications. Do less things that consume computing power. Use less cameras at the same time. Lower the image size or frame rate. Buy a faster Macintosh...

Message: Not enough memory

Restart macam or your video application. Quit other applications. Increase your computer's RAM. Recompile macam after removing all the files for cameras that you do not own.

Audio problems

Audio is not handled by the driver but by Mac OS X's own USB audio drivers (if it's handled at all). Please look into the documentation there.

Problems installing macam.component

Please make sure you use the QuickTime folder in the Library directly in the root level of your hard disk (do not mix up libraries at other locations). Make sure you have administration privileges. Move older copies of macam.component or webcam.component to the Trash prior to installing the new one (if you encounter problems deleting the files: It will work after a restart). Try running without other components (move them temporarily to another location and restart).

Program freezes, Kernel panics, really weird things

Contact the author. Provide detailled information. Help debugging. Wait for the next release...

Why can't I use my webcam with other applications?

You can. Please copy the macam.component into the /Library/QuickTime/ directory (for access by all users on the system) or into the ~/Library/QuickTime/ (for access by only that user). If you have a previous copy, please delete it first. A restart is usually not needed, but if you have trouble, it's a good thing to try. To verify that your installation works, test with a simple program such as HackTVCarbon, VideoViewer, or BTV.

Why doesn't iChat recognize my camera?

For some reason, probably pertaining to some minimum acceptable (Apple) quality level, iChat will not work with regular USB webcams. It works fine with iSight and the built-in cameras in the Intel-based notebooks (which are USB devices). There is a solution however,iChatUSBCam is the name of a shareware program which seems to work for many users. In the long-term, I recommend that users who are inconvenienced by this Apple policy send in a feature enhancement request for iChat (or, perhaps more properly, file a bug report).

What are the minimum requirements for running macam?

Generally, if you can run Mac OS X, you can run macam. macam does not usually need much memory. Sometimes it does need a lot of processing power to decode the image stream from the camera. This also depends a lot on the particular camera being used, so it is impossible to give a specific MHz or something like that. Also, if a larger image size is too slow, then a smaller image size will usually work better.

Why doesn't the sound work?

macam focuses on video. Cameras that have microphones almost universally use USB Audio Class for sound. This enables the system software driver to use the camera microphone while macam handles the video. The macam application does not record sound for movies, this is a deliberate choice [what should it sound like at 10x?]. The macam component lets the system deal with sound. Look in the Sound Input pane of the System Preferences, even if it says "Unrecognized Microphone" (or something similar), you can still use it. The camera is just not providing a proper name for the microphone.

Can you include <put your camera type in here> support in your driver?

Generally, no - not because we don't want to, but usually we don't have such a camera for testing available and we don't have the necessary developer documentation. If you can provide me with both, contact us.

Can you build a Mac OS 9 version of macam?

No, sorry. Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X are very different when it comes to communication with external devices. Converting macam to Mac OS 9 would probably be more work than developing a driver from scratch. [Is anyone still asking this?]

Why are only these video sizes and frame rates supported on the Philips cameras? The OS 9 driver could do better!

The supported frame rates and video sizes are those which can be received from the camera as uncompressed data. For higher sizes or frame rates, the USB data bandwith is not sufficient and therefore, the camera has to reduce the amount of data by using an image compression algorithm. It's theoretically and technically possible to support these compressed modes, but it's probably a legal one because it's a proprietary Philips algorithm. Implementing it would require to copy copyrighted material (if you're a lawyer and can give us good advice, please let us know...).

If I open macam and have a camera connected, nothing happens. What is wrong?

Please check if your webcam is one of the supported webcams (to find out, look into the Help facility of the macam application). Try to connect the camera directly, not via hub. Try to connect the camera to a built-in USB port, not to a third party extension card.

I get error messages instead of video. What's wrong?

See macam's Help facility for troubleshooting info.

I cannot create compressed QuickTime movies with BTV. Why?

I am currently investigating this. It does work on most systems, but there are cases where it doesn't. If you have more detailled info about the cause or when this happens, please tell me.

When I start grabbing video, the image is black and takes a time to lighten up. Why?

This is a standard behaviour of the cameras. I don't have the necessary documentation to circumvent this.

I get Kernel Panics. What are you doing with my system?

Believe me: Nothing. The driver runs completely in user space and therefore shouls not produce kernel panics. This seems to be an OS bug. Please write down the message (or take a photograph) and mail it to me along with a detailled description about what you did when you encountered this and your system configuration. I will try to find the cause and contact Apple to find a solution.

When I use your driver, I get garbage on the screen and my machine freezes. What is this?

This is called a "Kernel Panic" and is something that should never happen. Please see the question above.

I have problems not listed here. What can I do?

Please read the readme file and the news on the home page carefully as they contain important hints. Try to follow the instructions and notes as closely as possible.

I have followed the instructions and notes as closely as possible. Still the same problems. What now?

E-Mail us with a description of your problem, what exactly you did when the problem occured and a description of your system setup - as detailled as possible. Most likely you just have encountered a bug. I will try to fix that.

I am a programmer and would like to extend your driver to support another camera. Is that ok?

Sure. The source code is included - it is Open Source. Please follow the GPL and contact me so we can coordinate development.

Can you give me hints about USB or QuickTime programming?

Probably no. I'm no expert in that either. The best resource I know is the Apple developer technical web site: They also have mailing lists for these topics.

I want to participate development. What can I do?

There's much you can do - it depends on your skills and motivation. Of course, there's programming to do, but there are many other tasks: documentation, interface design, user assistance, beta testing and much more. If you want to join our group, please let us know.

Why has "wc" and "webcam.component" been renamed to "macam"?

For three reasons: 1. I wanted the application and the component to have more similar names, 2. "wc" was not too informative ("macam" is not much better, but a bit) and 3. (most important) there was an annoying naming conflict. On UNIX, "wc" is commonly known for "word count", a command-line tool.

I'm a Philips employee and want to send you documentation about our cameras. Where to?

Thanks! My postal and email addresses are included at the very end of the readme file. Logo
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