Mac Software

How do I turn off the orange dot on my Mac screen?

Mac screen
Don't go dotty: find out how to hide the orange dot

Since macOS Monterey, Macs have a new feature that users of iPhones and iPads may recognise: a small orange dot appears in the top right-hand corner of the screen. What does this mean? And how can you turn off the orange dot on your Mac? Read on to find out.

What is the orange dot on my Mac?

The orange dot appears whenever the microphone is being used. The dot will appear by the Control Center icon in the Menu Bar on every connected display. Click on the Control Centre icon and the top of the resulting window will show what’s using the microphone. As you can see, in the screenshot below it’s Zoom:

Mac Control Centre showing which apps are using microphone
Control Centre showing Zoom using the microphone

This happens even when the Menu Bar is disabled on external monitors, with the dot floating in the top-right corner.

What’s the point of the orange dot? Security. The idea is to highlight whenever an app is using the microphone, so that nothing is taking secretive recordings.

Can I stop apps using the microphone?

If you don’t want an app to use your microphone then you can remove permissions for it to use it.

  1. First of all, as detailed above, use Control Centre to identify the apps using the mic.
  2. Head into System Preferences > Security & Privacy and ensure the Privacy tab is highlighted. Then click on Microphone in the sidebar.
macOS Security & Privacy settings
  1. Find the app using the microphone in the list on the right and remove the tick next to it.
  2. The app in question will no longer have microphone access.

Why is the orange dot a problem?

As useful as the dot might be, it’s also problematic for some people.

For example, some audio programs will push all sound through its own software, causing the orange light to appear constantly.

Also, those in the AV industry often use a Mac to output content to large stage screens. If you thought the dot looked big on your 13in MacBook Air, it looks like a burning sun on a massive video wall!

How do I turn off the orange dot on my Mac?

Frustratingly, there is no facility in macOS to disable the orange dot. However, if you’re comfortable with installing and running things from the command line, a program named undot can hide the dot. For the time being, at least. It’s likely that future macOS updates may block this workaround.

Here are the installation instructions, taken from the undot Github page:

  1. Open up Terminal and type in the following, one line at a time, followed by Enter:
git clone https://github.com/s4y/undot
cd undot
make
open .

You’ll end up with Undot.app in the window that shows up.

  1. Go ahead and launch it.
  2. Click “Open System Preferences” in the dialog box that appears, then put a checkmark next to “Undot” in the list.
  3. Open Undot.app one more time. It won’t be visible in the Dock or Menu Bar, but it’ll be doing its job.
  4. The easiest way to quit Undot is via Activity Monitor (find it and click the “Quit” button), or by running killall Undot in a Terminal window.
  5. You can add it to your Login Items if you’d like, too.

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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