How-to Manually Adjust the MacBook Pro Keyboard Backlight
Want to manually adjust the backlighting on your MacBook Pro keyboard? You can do that easier than you might think. With the push of a few buttons, you can turn the brightness of the keyboard backlighting up, or you can turn the brightness of the keyboard backlighting down (or even off). The secret is simply to know which keyboard buttons to press to control keyboard backlighting and to adjust it manually.
On MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook with backlit keyboards, you will use F5 and F6 to turn keyboard backlighting brightness up or down.
• 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
If you want the Mac laptop to stop automatically adjusting keyboard backlighting intensity on it’s own, you can turn off that setting:
- 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
Once upon a time Mac laptop users didn’t have these direct controls, and had to rely on third party software for similar functionality of turning up or down the backlighting brightness.
Third party utilities are no longer needed to gain manual adjustments for the MacBook keyboard illumination, as it is now built natively into Mac 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.
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.
Again, remember that Labtick is not necessary on newer Macs with direct control of keyboard backlighting, but if you want to have it in your menu bar anyway then Labtick serves that purpose.