Creating virtual cameras for macOS and Windows: Best practice

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, the demand for cutting-edge multimedia solutions is on the rise. Virtual cameras have emerged as indispensable tools, offering a seamless bridge to integrate AI features into real-time streams and enabling the streaming of complex video content. Whether your aim is to enhance video conferences on platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, or embark on creative multimedia projects, understanding the creation and utilization of virtual cameras for macOS and Windows is essential.

Introducing Virtual Cameras: Bridging the Gap for AI Integration and Complex Content Streaming

Virtual cameras serve as virtual counterparts to physical cameras, allowing for the integration of AI-powered enhancements into live video streams. They also empower you to effortlessly stream intricate video content to your chosen camera source, opening up a world of creative possibilities.

Let's review the answers for the most common questions of our Clients.

Virtual Camera for macOS

The virtual camera project will consist of at least two parts: the driver side and the service for feeding the camera with the video stream.

There are two ways to create a virtual camera for macOS:

- CoreMedia extension

- DAL plugin


The Core Media I/O extension is available starting from macOS 12.3.

DAL works on any macOS version (until the end of 2023), but this technology is a deprecated approach and will be disabled by Apple in some future updates. However, for now, it is one of the most popular options. Virtual cameras like OBS or SnapChat use the DAL plugin for virtual camera functionality.

Implementation differences

The CoreMedia extension is a part of your main application, so the data is transferred directly from the main app to the camera.

DAL is an independent plugin, and you should set up a communication channel between your camera feeding service and the plugin itself. For this purpose, a pipe or socket can be used.

Such types of apps should have proper installers, be properly code-signed, and notarized.

CoreMedia extensions are usually written using Swift, while DAL plugins are typically written in C/C++.

Virtual Camera for Windows

On Windows, a virtual camera is implemented using the DirectShow plugin. Just like on macOS, another service should be used to feed the camera with data through socket or pipe streams.

Such a DirectShow driver plugin should be properly code-signed with a Kernel mode certificate. To be distributed to other computers, it should be submitted to Microsoft for approval.

For testing purposes, Windows computers should be launched in an unprotected test mode to allow the setup of non-approved kernel drivers.

As a source stream for the video, you can use an existing web camera, pre-recorded video, AI-generated content, WebRTC stream, etc.

Our company has developed dozens of projects with virtual cameras and virtual audio devices, and we would be happy to provide consultation or create similar projects to meet your needs. Please send us a message with your request.