Picture it: You’re in the middle of a serious sales presentation on Zoom and your client finally gives you the thumbs up. You return the gesture and suddenly your screen explodes in a cartoonish display of fireworks, giant hearts or confetti. That happened to my husband just yesterday after completing his MacBook’s upgrade to the new Mac OS Sonoma.
The newest operating system update from Apple has been tweaked to allow for a wide variety of what are called ‘webcam video reactions’ which are able to “see” gestures you might make on camera and add what you could generously call ‘exciting additional effects’. The only thing is? No one asked for them. And they’re not limited to simply FaceTime. The last few days the Internet has exploded with reports of people blaming Zoom for these random effect and demanding a solution, and asking, ‘How do I get rid of the Fireworks, thumbs up, and hearts?’
Why is my Macbook playing screen effects during a video call?
If you are on almost any video call platform including Skype, Zoom or Google your MacBook and the new OS will override your desire for professionalism and assault your meeting with these random special effects. When you upgrade to the new Sonoma operating system, this “fun” idea appears to be enabled by default. Which no doubt has hundreds or possibly even thousands of working professionals on serious business calls unwittingly making a gesture and being treated to juvenile reactions. For the same reason I don’t use Memojis in business emails, this is a horrible idea to force upon people. And of course, figuring out what just happened, or how to fix it before your next meeting is not intuitive.
What webcam video gestures will you get?
On the surface these gestures seem harmless enough, and they might even be considered fun in the right circumstances, like if you were with people that could appreciate them; but apparently these gestures are being triggered accidentally. I decided to test this out and see what would happen. On both zoom, and FaceTime calls I was able to get the effects right after my update to Sonoma OS… And without approving their existence or turning them on or enabling them.
For example holding up two peace symbols will cause confetti to scatter across the screen. A double thumbs up will give you fireworks. Making a heart symbol with your fingers will add jolly red love balloons above your head. (Though I think it is a shame that there’s no option for adding some thing crazy when you do the gesture where your head explodes.)
How do I turn off video effects on my Mac?
Now let’s answer the question of, ‘How to turn off Mac webcam video reactions in macOS Sonoma’? Maddeningly there’s not a one-stop answer for fixing it; you actually need to turn it off for EVERY SINGLE video conferencing platform you use, which means you’ll either need to initiate video calls on all platforms and disable the setting, or to jump on any video call early and make sure it’s off. Here’s how to do it.
When your webcam is on and being used, you’ll see a green camera button in the menu bar. Click it.
The icon next to Reactions will likely be green. Tap it to disable. Repeat for other platforms.
While I hope future updates will disable this feature by default across all video conferencing platforms, at least these steps can help you undo some of the damage. Unless you didn’t know this feature was coming, what it was called, or what would happen… And the only reason you found this article is because you were embarrassed in a recent call.
You can learn more from Apple.
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