If you’re in a dark room, you can increase the brightness of the keyboard on your MacBook Air for easier typing. There are two ways to do this: with the function keys on your keyboard or the Control Center in macOS.
Adjust the keyboard brightness on an Intel MacBook Air
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On your MacBook Air keyboard, press the F5 key to decrease the keyboard brightness and press the F6 key to increase the keyboard brightness.
Adjust the keyboard brightness on an Apple Silicon MacBook Air
With the introduction of the 2020 MacBook Air with an M1 chip, Apple changed the keyboard design of the MacBook Air. The company has replaced the Launchpad and keyboard brightness keys with Spotlight, Dictation and Do Not Disturb buttons.
So how do you increase the brightness of the keyboard or turn on the keyboard lighting on your Macbook Air now that the keys are missing? You can just use the Brightness slider on the Control Center keyboard. Alternatively, you can install a third-party app to remap the F5 and F6 keys to the old keyboard brightness behavior.
Adjust the keyboard brightness using the Control Center on the Mac
You can find a special Keyboard Brightness module in the macOS Control Center (available in macOS Big Sur and above).
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To get started, click on the Control Center icon (next to the time and date).
Select the “Keyboard brightness” button here.
Then use the slider to increase or decrease the keyboard brightness.
If you often find yourself adjusting the keyboard brightness, you can pin the Keyboard Brightness button to the menu bar itself.
Open the Control Center, click the “Keyboard Brightness” slider and drag it up to the menu bar.
Now clicking the Keyboard Brightness icon in the menu bar will immediately display the brightness slider.
Remap the keyboard brightness keys on MacBook Air
While controlling the keyboard brightness is nice, you may still want to use the physical keys to control the keyboard brightness, especially if you don’t find much use of the function keys dictate and do not disturb on your Mac.
Fortunately, you can get the old behavior back with a simple application. All you need to do is install the Karabiner Elements app. It is a free, open-source and stable key mapping tool for macOS. The default profile automatically restores the function keys for the keyboard brightness.
After you download and install the Karabiner Elements app, you need to allow the app to check your keyboard input so that it can remap the keys.
On macOS, you have to give the app explicit permission through the System Preferences menu.
Click on the Apple icon in the menu bar and choose the “System Preferences” option to get started.
Then go to the “Security & Privacy” section.
Select the “Privacy” tab here and click the lock button so that you can make changes.
Scan your fingerprint with Touch ID or enter your password to unlock the settings.
In the “Input Monitoring” section, click the check mark next to the “karabiner_grabber” and “karabiner_observer” options.
You can now close the System Preferences window.
Go back to the Karabiner Elements app and navigate to the “Function Keys” tab. Here, make sure that the F5 key is selected as “illumination_decrement” and the F6 key is assigned to the “illumination_increment” option.
Finally, press the F5 key to decrease the keyboard brightness and the F6 key to increase it. If this doesn’t work right away, quit and restart the Karabiner Elements app.
And that’s it. You have now restored the original keyboard brightness settings for the MacBook Air keyboard.
Did you know that the Control Center in macOS is customizable? Here’s how to add and remove modules from the Control Center on your Mac.
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