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Summary:

On both iOS and OS X, there exists an URL scheme that Safari supports that will launch FaceTime directly. It’s a great way to let you provide others with a quick and easy way to get in touch via video chat, or to manage FaceTime contacts.

FaceTime-feature

On both iOS and OS X, Safari supports a URL scheme that will launch FaceTime directly.  The schema is “facetime://” followed by your contact’s Apple ID, email address, or cellular phone number (depending on what info they’ve provided to FaceTime). So, you could make a call by typing the following in either mobile or desktop Safari’s address bar (with the example Apple ID, email and phone number replaced with real ones, of course):

OS X Lion FaceTime desktop and Dock icons

FaceTime Desktop Icon

The useful trick is to create a clickable desktop icon that will launch FaceTime for Mac and connect to your friend automatically.  One way to do this on OS X is to type the URL into Safari’s address bar, and before hitting return, drag and drop the typed URL onto the desktop.  Once it’s on the desktop, you can edit the icon’s image, replacing it with a photo of your contact if you want. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Launch Safari in OS X Lion and enter your contact’s FaceTime URL (as described at the beginning of this article) in the address bar.
  2. Before hitting return to launch to the URL, drag and drop the URL onto the desktop.
  3. Right click on the desktop shortcut you just created and select “Get Info.”
  4. Use preview to copy the image you want to use into your clipboard.
  5. Select the default image in the Get Info dialog until it is outlined blue.
  6. While the default image is selected, use Command + V to paste the image.

As an added bonus, the shortcut you just created can even be added to the Dock.  You just have to add it to the far right side of the Dock, where all of the folders are located. You can’t move it to the side of the dock left of the divider, which is reserved for applications.

iOS FaceTime Bookmarks and Favorites

FaceTime Safari Bookmark

Things get a little more tricky when it comes to iOS Home Screen icons.  The problem is that Safari needs to be viewing the URL in order to save the URL to the Home Screen. This isn’t possible in this case, because Safari launches FaceTime immediately once the custom URL is entered.

But all is not lost. You can always add a contact’s FaceTime ‘number’ to your list of Favorites in the Phone app. But it’s also possible to create a list of Safari Bookmarks with URLs for your FaceTime contacts.

  1. Launch Safari in OS X and select “Show All Bookmarks” from the Bookmarks menu.
  2. Manually type in the FaceTime URL(s) to your list of Bookmarks.
  3. Use iCloud to sync your OS X Safari Bookmarks with your iOS device.
  4. Alternatively, use iTunes to sync your OS X Safari Bookmarks with your iOS device.

FaceTime iOS Possibilities

This can be handy if you prefer to manage your list of favorite FaceTime contacts separately from your list of favorite Phone contacts. Something else to keep in mind is that since this is a valid URL to Safari, anywhere you embed or type this URL can become a launch point for FaceTime. So you could keep a list of FaceTime URLs in a document stored in your Notebook, or even add your own FaceTime URL to the signature of your email. Pasting your FaceTime URL into iMessage will also give the person you’re chatting with a quick and easy way to start a FaceTime with you.  You can go one step further by creating an iOS keyboard shortcut for “ftm” (short for FaceTimeMe) which will expand to your FaceTime URL. So now through FaceTime, everyone has their own dial-in number for quick and easy video chat.

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