How to Enable an Ambient Light Sensor on a Laptop

Written by maxwell payne
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How to Enable an Ambient Light Sensor on a Laptop
Some laptops have displays that adjust brightness according to ambient light. (meadow on laptops display image by .shock from

A variety of laptops have built in light sensors that actively detect the levels of light around the screen. Based on these levels, the laptop screen brightness will increase or decrease automatically. Some higher end laptops also include backlit keyboards that adjust their brightness based on ambient light. This feature is optional and not all laptops will have it. The sensor can be enabled or disabled by the user at any time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    Apple Mac laptops

  1. 1

    Click on the "Apple logo" icon in the top left of the screen and select "System Preferences" from the drop down menu. "System Preferences" can also be reached by clicking on the icon of silver coloured "gears" in the "dock" at the bottom of the screen.

  2. 2

    Click on "Display" within the System Preferences menu. Check off the "check box" next to "Automatically adjust brightness as ambient light changes." If your Mac also has a backlit keyboard, proceed to Step 3.

  3. 3

    Click "Show all" in the top of the "Display settings" window and click on "Keyboard." Check off the "check box" next to "illuminate keyboard in low light conditions." The keyboard lighting will adjust in brightness along with the screen brightness.

    Windows laptops

  1. 1

    Click on "Start" or press the "Windows logo" key on the keyboard. Select "Control Panel" from the "Start Menu."

  2. 2

    Click on "Display" or "Display settings." Locate an option to "enable" or "turn on" ambient light sensors or "automatically adjust screen brightness."

  3. 3

    Check off the "check box" next to this option and click on "Apply." If you do not see an option for this under "Display," hold down the "Fn key" and "A" key at the same time to enable the ambient light sensor.

Tips and warnings

  • You may need to check your laptop's manual to determine where the light sensor is located. For example, on Macbook Pros the sensor is located just above the camera while on certain Dell laptops the sensor is located just below the screen. Being aware of the location ensures you do not cover or block the sensor.

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