It's one of the most low-tech laptop hacks around, and yet countless figures from Mark Zuckerberg to Edward Snowden are known to have adopted it. But now, Apple is officially advising against covering up your MacBook camera.
In a new support document, Apple suggests that closing your laptop lid with a cover attached can end up damaging the display. With video calls now a huge part of the 'new normal' (here's where to buy a webcam if you're still looking), privacy is no doubt on more users' minds than ever. But Apple wants you to trust its camera indicator light instead of covering the whole thing up.
Unambiguously titled: Don't close your MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro with a cover over the camera (opens in new tab), the document insists that the "tight tolerances" between the display and keyboard aren't suitable for camera covers. It also says that covers can "interfere with the ambient light sensor and prevent features like automatic brightness and True Tone from working".
Apple insists that the camera can't activate without the green camera indicator light also turning on, so this is what users should watch for. While this is a pretty solid way of knowing when the camera is on, privacy concerned creatives could easily argue that finding out the camera is active while it's active is too late – which is why they prefer to cover it up.
All of you weirdos that think you have to cover your camera, don't blame Apple when you break your display.https://t.co/tRKo30kMgoJuly 10, 2020
I get what Apple is saying here, but yes, you should use a webcam cover. Just *of course* be careful with the display. Worst case, use a piece of thick or opaque tape doubled-over. Masking tape is great, or the sticky side of a Post-It note. Easily removable. pic.twitter.com/DW2tyeCoRMJuly 10, 2020
It seems users are divided about Apple's support document, with those who view covering the camera as paranoia welcoming the advice, and those who prefer to cover up unlikely to be swayed (above). Perhaps that's why Apple has also offered a few guidelines for those who are "required" to use a camera cover. This include ensuring the cover is no thicker than 0.1mm, and avoiding those that leave "adhesive residue". In other words, the advice seems to be: use some common sense.
3 things about this photo of Zuck:Camera covered with tapeMic jack covered with tapeEmail client is Thunderbird pic.twitter.com/vdQlF7RjQtJune 21, 2016
We wouldn't be surprised if Apple has seen a surge of camera cover-related damage during lockdown, hence the new support document. With its emphasis on watching the green camera light, it seems the company is keen for users to avoid using covers altogether. But if even Facebook's CEO has webcam nerves (above), we doubt camera covers are about to disappear.