If you’re trying to get some work done in a dark room, the backlight on a Mac’s keyboard can be a godsend. With each key lit up softly you can see which one is which and there’s no need to be a graduate of the Mavis Beacon touch-typing school to compose a quick email.
That being said, it’s not always appropriate to have your keys illuminated, especially if your battery is low, or you are watching something on the screen and don’t want the distraction of the keyboard, or if you are running an update overnight and you don’t want the keyboard light showing up. In those scenarios being able to disable the keyboard backlight can be useful. Here’s our quick guide to doing exactly that.
Using the backlight controls on the keyboard
If you’re not looking to permanently turn off the backlight, then the obvious first place to go is the dedicated brightness keys on your Mac. Now, we’re sure you’ve already done this, but just for a sense of completeness we thought it worth mentioning.
On the non-Touch Bar models, such as the
MacBook Air, you’ll find them on the F5 and F6 keys with the former used to dim the lights while the latter brightens them once more.
For Macs with a Touch Bar you’ll need to look for the two symbols shown below that look like a horizontal line with five dots or lines in a crescent shape above it. The dots are for lowering the lights, while the lines make them shine.
Disabling the backlight in System Preferences
For a more long-term solution you can use the settings in macOS. Go to System Preferences (either by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top-left corner of the screen then selecting it from the drop-down menu or clicking on the icon in the Dock), then click on Keyboard.
You’ll be presented with a window with several options, but the one you want is ‘Adjust keyboard brightness in low light’. At the moment it will most likely be enabled, which you can tell by the tickbox to its left containing a tick. You’ll need to untick this, otherwise your Mac will start turning up the brightness by itself if it senses that your surroundings are dark.
With that done, use the brightness keys mentioned in the section above to turn the backlight off. Now it should retain whatever setting you choose, no matter how much light is in your room. Of course, if you want to turn the setting back on just return to the Keyboard section of System Preferences and enable it once more.
For more ways to get the most out of your Mac typing experience, read our guide to
Mac keyboard shortcuts you need to know.