En español | You always hear about your friends who “FaceTime” with their kids or grandkids, but you're too embarrassed to ask how to do it.
Am I right?
Don't worry. You're not alone.
FaceTime simply means video calling from one Apple device to another. It lets you see and hear the other person, and they can see and hear you, too.
Whether it's seeing your loved one's smiling faces; a friend asking for your opinion, say, on a blouse she's about to buy at the store; or virtually attending a birthday celebration when you can't be there in person, the reasons are limitless on why video offers a more engaging experience than a plain ol’ phone call.
(You can use FaceTime for audio-only calls, too, by the way.)
To get going, all you need is a supported Apple device — an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Mac laptop — and the person you're talking with needs one of those, too. You can use FaceTime between these devices as well, so an iPhone can use FaceTime with a Mac, and a Mac can use FaceTime with an iPad, and so on.
But if your friends have Google Android, Microsoft Windows or other devices, you'll have to choose a different video-calling app such as Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, IMO, Skype, Viber or WhatsApp so everybody can use the same one for a call.
FaceTime also requires an internet connection for either Wi-Fi or a cellular signal.
Here, we cover how to make a FaceTime call. But let's first set up your device for FaceTime.
Launch the FaceTime feature
PSL Images / Alamy Stock Photo
You have a couple of ways to make a FaceTime call, but the first step is to enable FaceTime on your Apple device.
On an iOS device (Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), you can either open the FaceTime app — the little green square with a white video camera icon in the middle — or go to Settings | FaceTime and flick the tab to enable FaceTime on your device, turning it from white to green.
If you're not already signed into FaceTime with your Apple ID, you'll need to do this, just once. This is your email address and password, and it's used to prove it's you logging in.
If you're using an iPhone, FaceTime automatically registers your phone number. Someone could FaceTime you through your phone number, and your iPhone will ring like any other phone call.
To also register your email address on your iPhone or on your iPad or iPod touch where you might not have a phone number, simply go to Settings | FaceTime | Use your Apple ID for FaceTime and sign in with your Apple ID.
For Mac users, click on the icon to open the FaceTime app and enable it. If your Apple ID isn't registered, you'll need to sign in, once.
Using it on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
To place a FaceTime call on your iOS device, you need the person's phone number or email address. Remember, they also need a compatible Apple device and to have FaceTime enabled.
Now, you've got a few options:
1. Say, “Hey, Siri, FaceTime [person's name]."
2. Tap to open the FaceTime app, tap the plus sign and type the person's phone number or email address. Choose either an audio call, which is the phone icon, or video call, the video camera icon.
If you have the person's phone number or email address saved in your contacts, you can begin typing the name and it will appear. Tap the name when you see it.
3. Or start a FaceTime video call from your iPhone during a regular phone call. While chatting, tap the FaceTime icon in the phone app to switch immediately to FaceTime.
If you make a video call that's unanswered or declined, you can click message to send the person an iMessage.
Did you know FaceTime supports up to 31 simultaneous video callers? Talk about a party line!
It's called Group FaceTime. To use it, you will need iOS 12.1.4 or later.
During a FaceTime call, you can add more people by tapping the plus-sign button and entering a name or number of someone you want to add. Repeat the steps to add even more.
Also, while not very popular, you can also use your “Memoji” in FaceTime. A Memoji is an animated emoji that mimics your facial expressions in real time.
You'll need an iPhone X or later or iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch, the third generation. Open FaceTime to place a call, and when the call starts, tap the effects button, which is the star icon, and tap the Memoji that you want to use.
Now the person you're chatting with sees your Memoji instead of your real face.
Make a FaceTime call on a Mac
Just as you can easily place a FaceTime call on an iOS device, using a Mac laptop is just as easy.
Don't forget you need to sign in with your Apple ID and enable FaceTime, which is only required once.
To make a FaceTime call:
1. Say, “Hey, Siri, FaceTime [person's name]."
2. Click to open the FaceTime app. At the top of the screen, enter the email address or phone number of the person you want to call. You may need to press Return.
3. Enter the person’s name if you have a card for the person in the Contacts app, just enter the person's name. Now click the video camera button or the audio button, which looks like a phone. If you click the audio icon, you can choose whether to make a FaceTime audio call or a regular phone call through your Mac if you have your iPhone nearby.
If you make a video call that's not answered or declined, you can click message to send the person an iMessage.
To add other people to your FaceTime chat, you'll need macOS Mojave 10.14.3 or later. During a FaceTime call, tap the plus sign button and enter another name or number of someone you want to add. Repeat the steps to add even more (up to 31 people, including you).
Now you're a FaceTime pro.
Be sure to share this article with someone you think could benefit from the walk-through. And we'll see you on FaceTime.
Marc Saltzman has been a freelance technology journalist for 25 years. His podcast Tech It Out aims to break down geek speak into street speak.