What is “Unknown is capturing your screen” on Mac?

Aug 11, 2023 - 6 Comments

Unknown is capturing your screen on Mac

Some Mac users have discovered an alarming message when using macOS Sonoma that says “Unknown is capturing your screen”, appearing in the users menu bar. The “Unknown is capturing your screen” message is not actionable, and typically it appears for a few seconds and then vanishes, making it more concerning.

What’s going on that is causing the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message to appear on the Mac, and what can be done about it? Let’s take a look.

Why does my Mac say “Unknown is capturing your screen”?

The idea behind the “(app) is capturing your screen” message is to alert the user to when an app or process is recording the screen of the Mac.

This is a security and privacy measure so that users will be aware if an application is using screen recording features.

However, with the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message, which impacts a fair number of users who are running macOS Sonoma and the Sonoma betas, it’s not entirely clear if the message is accurate, or if there is indeed an unknown process that is capturing the screen.

How can I determine what apps can capture and record my Mac screen?

Users can manually control what applications have access to record the Mac screen by going to  Apple menu > System Settings > Privacy & Security > Screen Recording > and checking what apps are included in this list.

Check what apps have access to screen recording on Mac

With the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message, it is common to look at the “Screen Recording” section of privacy settings and find nothing. This is one reason that some users suspect this message is a bug, and the message itself may be erroneous.

Is “Unknown is capturing your screen” a bug or something alarming?

As many users who experience the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message are running macOS Sonoma beta, it is certainly conceivable that the message is the result of errors related to testing a new feature, bugs in testing a new features, outright bug in general, or of course the worst case scenario, that it’s an indicator of something alarming going on.

If you’re particularly concerned about the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message and issue, one approach to take is to use a firewall app like LuLu to block unwanted outgoing internet connections. Also, be sure to update macOS Sonoma beta as the new versions come out.

And finally, consider filing feedback with Feedback Assistant on the Mac. If Apple gets enough feedback on “Unknown is capturing your screen”, and it is a bug, or a feature being tested, then the more user reports on this topic, the better the end result will likely be. And isn’t that the whole point of being a beta tester anyway?

Do you have any thoughts, advice, suggestion, concerns, or other on the “Unknown is capturing your screen” message seen on some Macs with Sonoma? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments.


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Posted by: Jamie Cuevas in Mac OS, Security, Troubleshooting


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  1. MJ Havoc says:

    The headline asks the question “ What is “Unknown is capturing your screen” on Mac?” then you basically answer, I don’t know. Seriously? This was basically click bait since you don’t answer the question YOU asked. Fail!

    • Paul says:

      MJ Havoc, we appreciate the feedback.

      In beta system software, there are sometimes unexplained behaviors or events as Apple continues to refine a new feature or components of the operating system, and it seems like the “Unknown is capturing your screen” item is one of those. We’ve had a few questions about it, since it can be alarming to see that something is capturing your screen that you did not expect or grant access to.

      As another commenter has mentioned, you can usually trigger the “Unknown is capturing your screen” by initiating a series of screen shots or a screen capture in MacOS Sonoma.

      Presumably this feature will be more developed and the items detected will not be listed as “Unknown” in the near future.

  2. Beatrix Willius says:

    Why should I be concerned about a another moronic bug by Apple? It’s just a screenshot and not something really security related. Feedback shows me no other users have the same problem.

    • Paul says:

      Thanks for the comment Beatrix. In this case, you shouldn’t be concerned, since it does appear to be a bug in beta system software. If this issue were to persist in the final versions, it could be something to be concerned about. But for now, this is really only an issue for beta testers.

  3. Ian says:

    I have seen this in Sonoma when I take screenshots, which kind of makes sense, but to call it “Unknown” is obviously not accurate since it appears it’s Screen Capture that is using the screen.

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