Sometimes your laptop may show the following message on the login screen:

"Your screen is being observed."

This message is one of several new privacy protections built in to macOS, and is intended to alert you that an app may be recording your screen. Fortunately, most of the time this message does not indicate that someone is maliciously accessing your laptop. 

Below are the most common reasons for this message to appear; if you don't feel that any of these reasons apply to your laptop, or you have other reasons to think your laptop may not be secure, please get in touch with the Tech department.

You recently used AirPlay Screen Mirroring

If you were recently mirroring your screen to an Apple TV using AirPlay before you last closed your laptop, you are likely to see this message when you reopen the laptop. In this case AirPlay is, or was, "observing" your screen in order to mirror it onto the classroom display. 

The message should go away after a little while; if it does not, you may need to restart your laptop.

A Screen Recording App May be Running 

You may have an app which is now or was recently recording your screen. These can be apps intended for making screencasts, such as Screencastify, Loom, Explain Everything, or meeting apps in which you can share your screen, such as Zoom or Google Meet.

If one of these apps is currently running, or even if it was running recently and did not quit correctly, your laptop may think that its screen is still being recorded. In this case you should be able to make the message go away by quitting the app or restarting your laptop.

You can see a list of all the apps which have permission to record your screen in System Preferences:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
  2. Click the Security & Privacy icon, then click the Privacy tab.
  3. Scroll down in the list and choose Screen Recording.
  4. You will see a list of apps which have requested permission to record your screen, and any apps with a checkmark have been granted that permission.

  5. If you see an app in this list which you no longer want to be able to record your screen, you can click the padlock in the bottom-left corner, enter your laptop password, and then uncheck the box beside the app's name to revoke screen recording permission.

Apple Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is the support tool we use to remotely connect to your laptop, either to view your screen or to remotely control it. This "Your screen is being observed" message could appear if your screen is being viewed with Remote Desktop, or if it was recently viewed; however, the tech department will only remotely connect to your laptop with your permission while troubleshooting a problem.