How and why to use True Tone on the MacBook Pro (2018)

True Tone makes the white on your display look… white. Not bluish white as it sometimes looks under warm, incandescent light. Not yellowish white as it sometimes looks under cool, fluorescent light. White white. Theory being, the pages of a book don't get all wonky as you move from room to room or from indoors out, so why should your display?

Using a special light sensor array to measure and match the ambient color temperature, Apple introduced True Tone with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, brought it to the subsequent 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPads Pro, and iPhone X. Now it's come to the Mac. Finally.

How to turn True Tone on and off on Mac

True Tone lives in the macOS Display settings.

  1. Launch System Preferences.
  2. Click on Display.
  3. Toggle True Tone

As a bonus, the new MacBook Pro (2018) Touch Bar will also temperature match your surroundings, though it's way less noticeable. And if you dock your MacBook Pro into the Apple-recommended LG UltraFine 5K Display, LG UltraFine 4K Display, or O.G. Apple Thunderbolt Display, as long as you leave the lid open so the sensor can work, True Tone will temperature match those panels as well. (Presumably, the pre-announced Apple Pro Display, coming in 2019, will be True Tone compatible as well, if it doesn't do it on its own.)

Should you turn on True Tone on your Mac?

Some people love True Tone and just leave it on. Others worry it might mess with the color accuracy of their work and leave it off. Still others leave it on most of the time but turn it off for final edits. What should you do?

I've spoken to several pro photographers and videographers and opinions really do vary. I've also edited more than my fair share of photos and videos, and so here's my recommendation:

Turn True Tone on and don't worry about it. Not unless and until you're in a perfectly lit studio, have broken out your spider to ensure perfect calibration, and are ready to do final color correction on your work. That's the only situation where you absolutely don't want True Tone on. For everything else, you're fine.

That includes proofing with colleagues or clients, who likely have a wide range of devices, from phones to tablets, to computers, and if they're not all from Apple or all recently recalibrated as well, the aberrations and variances in display technology alone will be far more than simple True Tone temperature matching.

(If you are all using all Apple devices, then the per-unit factory calibration is pretty damn fantastic and will ensure more accuracy than it has any right to as you share your work around, even if only some of you have True Tone available and turned on.)

Important: Don't confuse True Tone with Night Shift, which heavily biases your display towards blue during the day and yellow at night to help ease you into a more natural sleep cycle. By all means, that off if you're worried about the people in your photos or video shifting from Mister Freeze by day to Minions by night — at least more than you are the idea pf pixels messing with the chemicals in your brain.

Otherwise, ambient lighting conditions are already and always altering what you see, and leaving True Tone on will simply even things out for you on the go.

That's my approach, anyway. I love True Tone. I want it everywhere. I want Continuity True Tone for devices that don't or can't support it. Seriously, take my eyeballs.

Read the full MacBook Pro (2018) review

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.