How to Adjust Keyboard Brightness on a MacBook Air

Older Macs use F5 and F6, while newer ones use Control Center

What to Know

  • Intel MacBook Air: Press F5 to lower keyboard brightness and F6 to raise keyboard brightness
  • Apple Silicon MacBook Air: Click Control Center > Keyboard Brightness and adjust the slider

This article explains how to adjust keyboard brightness on a MacBook Air, including instructions for both Intel and Apple Silicon models.

How to Change Keyboard Brightness on a MacBook Air

Your MacBook Air has an adjustable keyboard backlight, but the method you use to adjust it depends on which model you have. If your MacBook Air pre-dates the introduction of Apple Silicon, it has dedicated keys to increase and decrease the keyboard brightness. MacBooks released after that don’t have dedicated keys, but you can still adjust the brightness using the Control Center.

If you aren’t sure which MacBook version you have, you can just check the top row of keys on the keyboard. If your F5 and F6 keys have light icons on them, then you have an Intel MacBook and you can adjust the brightness with those keys. If those keys have different icons, skip to the next section for instructions.

The F5 and F6 keys highlighted on an Intel MacBook Air keyboard.

To decrease the keyboard brightness on an Intel MacBook Air, press F5. To decrease the keyboard brightness, press F6.

How to Change Keyboard Brightness on an Apple Silicon MacBook Air

The Apple Silicon MacBook Air still has a row of function keys, but none of them are dedicated to adjusting the keyboard brightness. You can still adjust the brightness, but you need to use the Control Center.

Here’s how to change the keyboard brightness on an Apple Silicon MacBook Air:

  1. Click the Control Center, which is located near the right side of the top menu bar.

    The Control Center icon highlighted in macOS.
  2. Click Keyboard Brightness.

    The keyboard brightness (dash with radiant lines) highlighted in Control Center.

    You may see a button that says Keyboard Brightness or a smaller icon with the keyboard brightness icon (dash with rays emanating from it). If you don’t, skip to the next sections for instructions on adding a keyboard brightness button to the Control Center.

  3. The keyboard brightness slider highlighted in macOS.

    Click the slider, and drag it left to lower the keyboard brightness or right to raise the keyboard brightness.

How to Add the Keyboard Brightness Button to Control Center

The keyboard brightness button may not show up in your Control Center depending on the other options that appear there. If it is present, it may be one of the large buttons that includes both text and an icon, or it may be a smaller button at the bottom of the Control Center that only has an icon.

If you don’t see a keyboard brightness button in the Control Center at all, you can add it. You can also add this button directly to your menu bar for easier access if you find that you adjust your keyboard brightness a lot.

These instructions are for macOS 13 Ventura. For Monterey and older: Apple menu > System references > Dock & Menu Bar > Keyboard Brightness > Show in Menu Bar.

Here’s how to add the keyboard brightness button to the Control Center or menu bar:

  1. Click the Apple icon and select System Settings.

    System Settings highlighted in the Apple menu on a Mac.
  2. Click Control Center.

    Control Center highlighted in macOS System Settings.
  3. Click the Show in Control Center toggle to place the Keyboard Brightness button in the Control Center, or the Show in Menu Bar toggle to put it on the Menu Bar.

    The Keyboard Brightness toggles highlighted in Control Center on macOS.

    You can select both toggles if you want.

  4. Click the red button in the upper right corner of Control Center to close the window. The Keyboard Brightness button will now appear in the location or locations you selected.

    The red close button highlighted in Control Center on macOS.
  • Can I change my MacBook's screen brightness using the keyboard?

    Yes you can, though the method is slightly different depending on the model of MacBook you have. If your MacBook has a Touch Bar above the keyboard, tap the Brightness icon (it looks like a sun) and either drag the slider left and right with a finger to adjust brightness, or tap the icons at either end of the slider for incremental brightness changes. If your MacBook doesn't have a Touch Bar, you'll find brightness adjustment buttons along the top of the keyboard (they'll have sun icons on them). Press the one with an up arrow to increase brightness or the one with a down arrow to decrease brightness.

  • Why won't my MacBook let me adjust keyboard brightness?

    If your MacBook isn't giving you the option to adjust your keyboard brightness, the cause is likely the ambient light sensor blocking keyboard lighting to save on battery power. You can address this by opening the Apple menu, then selecting System Preferences > Displays > Display Settings, and changing the “Automatically adjust brightness” or “Ambient light compensation" settings.

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