You may not be an FBI agent with top secret, ultra-classified files to hide, but chances are you've used your MacBook to access sensitive material on more than one occasion.
Not to mention, no one likes the feeling of others looking over their shoulder, even if the onlooker does so with complete disinterest and no malicious intent.
While a pair of headphones can keep your music to your ears only, how do you protect your screen from prying eyes, especially if you're working on a confidential project or just don't like gawkers?
A privacy screen will change the viewing angle of your screen so that unless you are directly in front of it, viewers will see a black, gold, or tinted display instead of the contents on it. This is especially nifty in open office situations or at home and can solve a lot of problems.
In this article, we'll show you some of the best privacy screens for MacBook and where to look for one that suits your needs.
The GeckoCare Easy On/Off Magnetic Privacy Screen Filter for MacBook Pro is magnetic for easy removal and installation, and available in the right size for almost every MacBook Pro since 2012.
The golden 3M Gold Privacy Filter for 13" Apple MacBook Air offers a higher visibility level for the user while displaying a solid gold sheen to any onlookers. Available for 11" and 13" MacBook Air.
The Homy 15.4" New MacBook Pro Touch Bar 2016/2017/2018 Privacy Screen Protector works with the 2016, 2017, and 2018 touch bar Macbooks by magnetically attaching to the screen. It also comes with a free keyboard skin for a bit of physical protection as well.
Who Should Get This?
A privacy screen is a matter of convenience and personal need. If you work for clients with sensitive information (i.e. social workers, lawyers, investigators) you would strongly benefit from the added confidentiality that a privacy screen can provide.
It's also useful if you work in an open office or shared space where people are passing by constantly, or if you are easily irked by peers who always seem to want to know what's happening on your laptop rather than focusing on their own.
While a privacy screen is rarely a necessity, it can offer a layer of security and comfort to a lot of users.
Buying a Privacy Screen for MacBook: What to Consider?
The MacBook Pro has different dimensions depending on the year, size, and additional features of your model. This means privacy screens are not by any means “one size fits all", and you're going to need to check before you purchase a particular model. Most products will list the MacBooks they are compatible with the type and release year. You can check your model by going to the Apple icon > About This Mac.
Privacy screen filters can be installed a number of different ways. Some of the slickest include magnetic attachments, while the lower-tech but the equally effective adhesive method works as well. However, if you plan to take the cover on and off frequently something like the tape isn't going to last long- you'll want either clips, magnets, or something in that vein. Make sure to think about when and where you plan to use a screen and check how it will be attached to your MacBook.
Because a privacy filter is essentially a polarized sheet, it's going to affect the visibility of your display for you too- not just bystanders. The higher quality screens will do their best to counteract this but keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and cheaper screens will likely lead to some display dimness or discoloration.
Best Privacy Screen for MacBook: Top Picks
Please note: all the privacy screen/filters we recommend below are chosen based on the criteria above and our own personal preferences. They are by no means ranked in this order.
Available for almost every recent MacBook, the GeckoCare filter attaches by magnets to the top edge of your MacBook and blocks out viewers at angles beyond 60 degrees. You can take it on and off easily without worrying about wear and tear.
- Pros: Magnetic design makes for easy on-and-off operation, which is great for the occasional use. Good privacy angles and effective design. It's also very thin, so the laptop can be closed with it on.
- Cons: The Magnetic strip is only along the top, so when closing the laptop lid you must be careful to not let it slide around.
Complete with anti-glare coating, this privacy filter from Homy attaches with adhesive strips to your Mac. It's made for the TouchBar MacBooks from 2016, 2017 and 2018 and comes with a MacBook keyboard cover so you can have all your bases protected wherever you go.
- Pros: 60-degree angle is comfortable for the average user, and prevent screen scratches as well. Comes with a free keyboard skin to protect your keys too- not just your screen!
- Cons: Adhesive strips are subject to wear and tear if you take this screen off frequently.
If you're concerned about visibility and screen brightness, the 3M Gold model is your best choice. The lighter tint provides the same protection while allowing you a greater amount of visibility and looks sleek doing it. It's only available for the MacBook Air.
- Pros: Sleek gold design looks professional and increases visibility for the intended user without sacrificing any degree of privacy. It's easy to get replacement adhesive if needed through the 3M site.
- Cons: Attaches via adhesive rather than magnetic strips.
Additional Tips & Resources
Have you ever tried to stick a screen protector on your phone and been terribly unsatisfied with the results? This is also a possibility with privacy screens, unfortunately. If you're using a stick-on model, you can follow the guide in this video to get the best possible fit:
Do you also own a PC? Some of the newer HP models include a feature called SureView, which is a built-in privacy filter that automatically adjusts your screen for maximum privacy. If your laptop has it, you can activate the feature by pressing FN + F2.
Lastly, if you're more interested in protecting the physical machine of your laptop than what's on the screen, consider purchasing a backpack or sleeve that will keep it from being damaged while in transit (especially useful if your laptop commutes with you).
Whether you're watching the latest HBO release on the bus or reviewing bank statements in your office, a privacy filter offers a greater degree of personal comfort and document safety. While it won't block out everything, it will offer a much narrower opportunity for gawkers. So, how do you protect your MacBook's content on a regular basis?
Published Mar 7, 2018.