Apple advises against MacBook camera covers due to display cracking

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple, in a new support document, is warning users against closing their MacBook lids with a cover over the camera.

Credit: YouTube
Credit: YouTube


Placing a cover, sticker or tape over a laptop camera is a practice adopted by some privacy- and security-conscious individuals to protect against webcam hijacking. Now, however, Apple is explicitly advising against the tactic.

In a support document published earlier in July, Apple urges users not to close their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air lids if there's a camera cover installed on it.

"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," Apple notes.

The support document also outlines some of the privacy and security functions of the camera, including the green indicator light that lets users know when the camera is active and the camera permission settings introduced in macOS Mojave.

Although the green indicator light is a security measure, there have been instances in the past when vulnerabilities may have allowed attackers to hijack a MacBook's camera.

If users must apply some type of camera covering for work purposes, Apple advises using a cover no thicker than an average piece of printer paper that won't leave any residue.

The support document was likely published in response to user complaints about display cracking. Some reports on Reddit and other social platforms suggest that webcam covers can cause costly display cracking, particularly on the 16-inch MacBook Pro since it has thinner bezels.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Why they haven’t bothered putting in a sliding switch or other method of manually covering the camera is a total mystery.
    calisurfboybloggerblogdavgreg
  • Reply 2 of 37
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,055member
    Why they haven’t bothered putting in a sliding switch or other method of manually covering the camera is a total mystery.
    Because the display is really thin and it's actually a miracle that they manage to put a functional camera in it. I don't think there's enough room to put a slide. 

    calisurfboyspock1234repressthisviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 37
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,827member
    Seems like Apple could provide a software control to disable the camera from the menu bar. If they wanted to be elegant in hardware alone I suppose they could add a PDLC film (smart glass) layer to their camera lens assembly to obscure the camera lens.
    SpamSandwichcalisurfboyrepressthiswatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 4 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,472member
    Last I heard was in the newer Macs the camera and green camera indicating light were hardwired so the camera couldn't be turned on without the light coming on. I know I'm nuts but am I in this?
    spock1234chiaMplsPrepressthisJFC_PAwatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 5 of 37
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,733member
    When I had my MacBook I always kept a Post-It over the lens. 
    SpamSandwichflyingdpdysamoriabaconstang
  • Reply 6 of 37
    macbootxmacbootx Posts: 48member
    This is one of those “in the user’s head” issues to put it bluntly. Doesn’t matter that there’s an LED indicator, or software controls, or even an off switch for that matter. Some users can’t feel comfortable unless there’s that opaque barrier and its total overkill. A piece of Scotch Magic tape will throughly blur what the camera sees. And the nice thing is it won’t interfere as much with ambient light sensing and you can still see the camera status LED. 
    flyingdpchiaRayz2016repressthisradster360viclauyycwatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 7 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    lkrupp said:
    Last I heard was in the newer Macs the camera and green camera indicating light were hardwired so the camera couldn't be turned on without the light coming on. I know I'm nuts but am I in this?
    I understand older MacBooks could be activated by the NSA without triggering the camera light, if I recall leaked information from Ed Snowden correctly.
    bloggerblogireland
  • Reply 8 of 37
    titantigertitantiger Posts: 299member
    There should be a hardware switch on all Macs that literally breaks the electrical current to the camera and mic.  Software can always be overridden by hackers and malware.  But without physical access to my machine, they can't force a hardware switch to the "on" position.
    dysamoriabaconstangireland
  • Reply 9 of 37
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,271member
    lkrupp said:
    Last I heard was in the newer Macs the camera and green camera indicating light were hardwired so the camera couldn't be turned on without the light coming on. I know I'm nuts but am I in this?
    I read the same thing when I was trying to research this a couple of months ago.

    Beyond the light and MacOS protections, I also have sophos antivirus software installed which monitors the camera. If you're really worried, a simple piece of tape is sufficient. If you want something easy to open and shut, just tape a piece of paper that you can flip up when you want to use the camera.
    edited July 2020 larryjwwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 37
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    Post-It Notes don’t leave residue... right? I used artists’ masking tape and that left residue to clean up. I’ve forgotten to try Post-It Notes, after it was suggested to me.
    digitolwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 37
    digitoldigitol Posts: 242member
    100% HorseShit! Just like they said don’t disinfect your screens, it will ruin them. After Covid outbreak, now they recommend again. Another example. Keyboards. Tell me how many keyboards imprinted/ruined mac displays  I say don’t use a keyboard then. Lame. 
  • Reply 12 of 37
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    Install MicroSnitch if you don't think the Camera access tab in System Preferences > Security & Privacy is sufficient. 
    https://obdev.at/products/microsnitch/index.html
    viclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 37
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    digitol said:
    100% HorseShit! Just like they said don’t disinfect your screens, it will ruin them. After Covid outbreak, now they recommend again. Another example. Keyboards. Tell me how many keyboards imprinted/ruined mac displays  I say don’t use a keyboard then. Lame. 
    No, they've always warned against using cleaners/solvents/etc on your screens due to people removing oleophobic and anti-glare coatings, probably because they've actually seen people ruin their screens this way. Same thing with this, so not sure why you'd say it's "100% HorseShit!" — clearly it's happened to users.

    From the Reddit link in TFA:


    edited July 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 37
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    lkrupp said:
    Last I heard was in the newer Macs the camera and green camera indicating light were hardwired so the camera couldn't be turned on without the light coming on. I know I'm nuts but am I in this?
    I understand older MacBooks could be activated by the NSA without triggering the camera light, if I recall leaked information from Ed Snowden correctly.
    Unlikely to be true. 

    Power goes through the light and onto to the camera. There is no software involved. You cannot switch in the camera without activating the light. The NSA may all powerful in your mind, but they’re not warlocks. 

    In theory, it might be possible to flip the camera on and off so fast that the user might not see the light, but that’s a theory. 



    dysamoriawatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 15 of 37
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member

    dewme said:
    Seems like Apple could provide a software control to disable the camera from the menu bar. If they wanted to be elegant in hardware alone I suppose they could add a PDLC film (smart glass) layer to their camera lens assembly to obscure the camera lens.
    If it’s a software control then someone could flip it back on again. It would have to be a camera cover. 
    dysamoriadavgregwatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 37
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,737member
    Isn’t the camera managed by the T2 chips on newer macs?  The stuff Snowden talked about no longer applies right?
    macpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 37
    irelandireland Posts: 17,751member
    sflocal said:
    Isn’t the camera managed by the T2 chips on newer macs?  The stuff Snowden talked about no longer applies right?
    The point is a cover (masking tape) cannot be software hacked. Or how about someone knows or sees you typing your password, they can’t login and set something up with tape across there.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,759member
    dewme said:
    Seems like Apple could provide a software control to disable the camera from the menu bar. If they wanted to be elegant in hardware alone I suppose they could add a PDLC film (smart glass) layer to their camera lens assembly to obscure the camera lens.
    All software can be hacked, but I don't believe any codemonkey has yet figured out how to move a dumb piece of plastic remotely.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 37
    digitoldigitol Posts: 242member
    No, they've always warned against using cleanersclearly it's happened to users.

    Oh yes. All 3 of them on the entire internets right?, oh wow. I’ve cleaned  100’s of laboratory macs, for many years. no issue. Ever. On a semi-related note this also coming from a company (Apple) claiming no need to cover your camera... every macbook was built with security in mind. The green light is tied to the camera power, so you will see when ever the camera is active. Fast forward to today, and come to find out it can be bypassed via a firmware hack on some macbook models. #Failure. Apple security is insulting. misnomer. Sad.  

  • Reply 20 of 37
    Just don’t buy a Mac or MacBook, problem solved!
Sign In or Register to comment.