Apple warns customers that camera covers can damage MacBook displays

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What you need to know

  • Apple has published a new support document about camera covers for the Mac.
  • The company is advising customers to not use camera covers on its laptops.
  • Doing so can cause display damage to the computer, says Apple.

Many people continue to use camera covers on their desktops and laptops in order to ensure no one is snooping on them through their computer's built-in camera. Apple is saying that this accessory is not needed, and in fact discouraged, for the MacBook lineup.

In a new support document published to the Apple Support website, Apple is asking customers not to use a camera cover on the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Apple says that these accessories not only can cause features like automatic brightness and True Tone to stop working but that the accessory can even damage the display.

Instead of using an accessory like this, Apple suggests using the camera indicator light, which is built into every MacBook, to monitor if the camera is turned on for any reason.

If you close your Mac notebook with a camera cover installed, you might damage your display because the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances. Covering the built-in camera might also interfere with the ambient light sensor and prevent features like automatic brightness and True Tone from working. As an alternative to a camera cover, use the camera indicator light to determine if your camera is active, and decide which apps can use your camera in System Preferences.

For those who may be skeptical of this method, Apple says that they have engineered the Mac so that if the camera wants to turn on, it has to do so with the light indicator turning on as well. For Macs running macOS Mojave and later, each app you install must ask for access to the camera, and you can turn it back off at any time.

The camera is engineered so that it can't activate without the camera indicator light also turning on. This is how you can tell if your camera is on ... As an added security measure, you can control which apps have access to the built-in camera. Before any app can use your camera in macOS Mojave or later, you must first give it permission. To see which apps have permission to use your camera and to revoke or grant app access, learn how to control access to the camera on your Mac in System Preferences.

For those who work in an environment that requires the use of camera covers, Apple recommends using ones that are less than 0.1mm thick and do not use an adhesive that leaves any residue. Anything thicker than that should prompt users to remove it from their laptop before closing it to avoid any issues.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.