How does the keyboard backlight control work?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by zen, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. zen
    macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    #1
    My new MBA is the first computer I've had with a backlit keyboard, and I love it. But I don't quite understand the settings.

    I have the keyboard system preference set to automatically illuminate the keyboard in low light.

    With this on, the keyboard brightness buttons (F5 and F6) sometimes don't do a thing (the keyboard will stay dark and the on-screen indicate shows a circle with a line through it, clearly saying the function is not available). Other times they'll let me pump the brightness up and down.

    Then, occasionally, I'll be working in a dark room and the keyboard won't light automatically, despite being set to automatic, and I need to manually control the light - when I press F6 to brighten it, the indicator tells me it was set to zero illumination.

    Is the automatic control flaky? By pressing the manual buttons, have I overridden and messed up the automatic setting?

    I was under the impression that if I had it on automatic, it would control the brightness by itself. Indeed it seemed to do that when I first got the computer this week - the keyboard would brighten and dim according to the ambient light.
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK/US
    #2
    I don't really get it either. My sister's new MBP and my MBA are both the same in that respect - the automatic function doesn't really do anything. I've never seen it adjust the level of lighting, so this is a good question.

    It has also been disabled for me sometimes but this was in good lighting, so perhaps the sensor realised it was not needed.
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #3
    I just was playing with them. Basically, if you have the automatic setting checked, then it will automatically set the brightness level as it sees fit. You can manually adjust it using the keys, but they will still adjust as it reads any lighting changes and override your "manual" setting.

    If you don't check automatic, then it will not change the setting no matter the amount of environment lighting. It will stay at the setting you manually set it to no matter what.

    At least that's what it seems to be doing for me.
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK/US
    #4
    Odd, doesn't do that for me. Both the MBP and MBA always have the light on if set to automatic.
     
  5. Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #5
    If yours is like my MBP then the backlight has a mind of its own and never does what you want it to, which can be very frustrating.

    My understanding is it is connected to the camera, when the camera detects low ambient light levels it switches on the keyboard light. The amount of keyboard brightness depends on how much light the camera thinks there is.
    In my experience it is a bit random and even when its dark I still have to manually turn up the brightness.

    I believe there is an app available that overrides the macs settings allowing you to manually set the keyboard light whether its dark or not.
     
  6. Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2009
    Location:
    England
    #6
    The name of the app that give you control of the keyboard light is Lab Tick.
     
  7. zen
    thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    #7
    It is definitely linked to the camera - I'm typing now in a bright room, but if I put my thumb over the camera, the keyboard lights up. I presume this is the same for the automatic display brightness control.

    Right now, in a bright room, with the setting on automatic, the manual key controls for keyboard brightness are completely disabled. If I block the camera, the keyboard lights and the brightness control keys become active. If I put the brightness to maximum, then unblock the camera, the keyboard goes dark. If I then block the camera again, the keys come on to full brightness, which is where I set the manual control at.

    Okay... so it seems to make sense. I'll leave it alone now :cool:
     
  8. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2012
    #8
    Question about the backlight 2012 macbook pro 13 inch

    i have a new macbook pro and the backlight works manually and the auto button is checked in settings but the light won't work in the dark unless i press the button automatically i heard u have to config it or smtg but idunno help please thanks :)
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    #9
    The ambient light sensor is located to the left of the camera. The laptop does not use the camera for any measurements.

    If the ALS detects bright conditions it will not let you turn the keyboard light on. When it gets a bit darker but still pretty bright i.e. in a lit room it will make the keyboard pretty bright and the monitor also but if the room is totally dark it will dim the monitor and keyboard light to minimal levels. I am pretty sure that setting the keyboard light manually gets overridden when the ambient light changes or the computer goes to sleep.

    This is unlike the iPhone on iOS6 which seems to remember how bright you set it at in certain lighting conditions.
     

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