Editor’s take: Apple isn’t wrong in its recommendation to avoid using an overly thick camera cover on its MacBooks as doing so could indeed damage the display when you close the lid. But to put your full trust in Apple’s camera activity indicator is a big ask. To think that a hacker couldn’t figure out how to turn on the webcam without activating the LED is a bit naive. IMO, in this day and age, you have to operate under the assumption that someone is always watching or listening.
Apple is advising MacBook users not to close their computer lids with a camera cover in place as doing so might damage the screen.
Privacy advocates have long been suspicious of devices like webcams that can theoretically be used to transmit video without a user’s consent or knowledge. The best line of defense that paranoid users had, it seemed, was to simply obscure the camera’s view with something like a piece of tape.
The extra layer of protection didn’t really gain mainstream traction until mid-2016 when a photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to show tape over the webcam on his laptop. Even the former director of the FBI, James Comey, admitted to doing the same thing after seeing someone “smarter than I am” do it.
Sales of aftermarket webcam covers have no doubt surged over the past few years but their usage doesn’t come without some risk. As Apple correctly highlights, the clearance between the display and keyboard is very low and if your camera cover is too thick, it could damage the display when you close the lid.
Apple in a recently updated support document notes that the webcams on its MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro feature a camera indicator light that serves as a visual indicator of when the camera is on. “The camera is engineered so that it can’t activate without the camera indicator light also turning on,” Apple said.
Using an aftermarket camera cover might also interfere with a laptop’s ambient light sensor, thus preventing features like automatic brightness and True Tone from working correctly.
In the event your work environment requires a camera cover or you simply insist on it, Apple urges you to make sure it isn’t any thicker than an average piece of printer paper. You may also want to avoid a cover that will leave an adhesive residue behind.
Masthead credit: Mike_shots