When you’re in a dark room, you can increase the brightness of the keyboard on your MacBook Air to make typing easier. There are two ways to do this: using the function keys on your keyboard or the Control Center in macOS.
Adjust the keyboard brightness on an Intel MacBook Air
If you’re using a MacBook Air that was made before the 2020 MacBook Air M1 (when Apple transitioned to its own Apple Silicon chip), it’s actually quite easy to manually adjust the keyboard brightness.
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On your MacBook Air keyboard, press the F5 key to decrease keyboard brightness and press the F6 key to increase 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 layout of the MacBook Air. The company replaced the Launchpad and keyboard brightness control keys with Spotlight, Dictation, and Do Not Disturb buttons.
So how do you increase keyboard brightness or enable keyboard light on your Macbook Air now that the keys are missing? You can simply use the Keyboard Brightness slider from Control Center. Alternatively, you can install a third-party app to remap the F5 and F6 keys to the old keyboard brightness behavior.
Adjust keyboard brightness using Control Center on Mac
You’ll find a dedicated Keyboard Brightness module in the macOS Control Center (available in macOS Big Sur and above).
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To get started, click the Control Center icon (next to the date and time).
Here, select the “Keyboard Brightness” button.
Then use the slider to increase or decrease the brightness of the keyboard.
If you often find yourself adjusting your keyboard brightness, you can pin the Keyboard Brightness control to the menu bar.
Open Control Center, click the “Keyboard Brightness” control, and drag it to the menu bar.
Clicking the Keyboard Brightness icon in the menu bar will now instantly display the brightness slider.
Remap keyboard brightness keys on MacBook Air
While keyboard brightness control is nice, you may still want to use the hard keys to control keyboard brightness, especially if you don’t find much use for the Dictation and Do Not Disturb function keys on your Mac.
Fortunately, you can get back to the old behavior using a simple app. All you need to do is install the Karabiner Elements app. It is a stable, free and open source keymapping tool for macOS. Your default profile will automatically restore the keyboard’s brightness function keys.
Once you have downloaded and installed the Karabiner Elements app, you will need to allow the app to control your keyboard input so that it can remap the keys.
On macOS, you’ll need to give the app express permission from the System Preferences menu.
Click the Apple icon in the menu bar and choose the “System Preferences” option to get started.
Then go to the “Security and privacy” section.
Here, select the “Privacy” tab and click the lock button so 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 go to the “Function Keys” tab. Here, make sure that the F5 key is selected as “light_decrease” and that the F6 key is assigned to the “light_increase” 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, close and restart the Karabiner Elements app.
And that is. You have now restored the original keyboard brightness controls for the MacBook Air keyboard.
Did you know that the Control Center in macOS is customizable? Here’s how to add and remove Control Center modules on your Mac.
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