How-to Manually Adjust the MacBook Pro Keyboard Backlight
Third party utilities are no longer needed to gain manual adjustments for the MacBook keyboard illumination, as it is now built natively into OS X on all supported Macs, including the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Accordingly, this article has been updated to support the new built-in methods to control backlight keyboards, though we retained the original method with LabTick for posterity and for those who would prefer to use the menu bar item.
Use F5 to turn the backlit keyboard brightness down
Use F6 to turn the backlit keyboard illumination brightness up
These two keys are at the top of the keyboard on Macs that support the feature. This includes all new model MacBook Air and MacBook Pro machines, though older Macs may not have the dedicated keys and may require using the “Function” (FN) key to initiate the changes yourself.
How to Stop the Mac from Automatically Adjusting Keyboard Backlighting
- Go to System Preferences from the Apple menu, selecting the “Keyboard” preference panel
- Find and uncheck the box for “Automatically illuminate keyboard in low light” to gain full manual controls
Below is the older approach that continues to work for Macs that do not have the manual support keys, or for users who would prefer to use the third party utility for Snow Leopard to control the key brightness:
One of the many “fine touches” that I enjoy about my MacBook Pro is the keyboard, and it’s very nice back light effect. Normally, the keyboard back light only turns on when the MacBook Pro light sensor detects a dark room, but with Lab Tick now its possible to take full control of the power beneath your finger tips. Lab Tick is a very resource non intensive application that cleanly installs itself as a menu item, with options to load your brightness settings on boot. This application is a must for MacBook Pro users and personally, I think it should be included as an option in Mac OS X.
Update: Manually adjusting the MacBook keyboard backlight with Labtick
The menu interface is clean and unobtrusive, after installing it you’ll find the menu bar item along with things like Time Machine, Caffeine, and Spotlight.