How to fix the “your screen is being observed” issue

Imagine opening your Mac’s lid and seeing the “your screen is being observed” message. According to many users, it appears on the lock screen — the one where you type in your password to unlock the Mac — at the top of the menu bar, commonly next to two overlapping squares.

Although it may seem scary at first, it is an easily manageable issue. Keep on reading to find out why this message appears and what to do if your screen is being observed.

What does “your screen is being observed” mean

Before proceeding with the solutions to the Mac screen observed error message, let’s find out what causes it:

  1. Sharing the screen. The message may pop up when you actually share your Mac’s screen. It can be done either locally or remotely.
  2. Third-party apps. In this case, the focus is on access to recording the screen you granted to the apps installed on your Mac. You may have missed the point at which it happened or forgotten about that.
  3. AirPlay. Streaming video and mirroring screen are convenient Mac features. However, they may cause the message, and if it remains unnoticed for some time, it may be alarming once you finally discover it.
  4. Screen recording. It may be that you are recording the screen, and it will show the same message as in the case of the third-party app observing it.
  5. Malware. Unfortunately, Macs are susceptible to being infected, and some forms of malware observe your screen to collect your sensitive and private information as well as the details about your activities.

How to stop Mac screen from being observed

Now that you know what may cause the message, let’s see what can be done to fix the issue. These are the solutions to all of the reasons outlined above.

Check sharing settings

As noted, screen sharing may be either local or remote. However, there is one more thing to mention — it can be either intentional or by mistake. Fixing it, though, is easy and straightforward:

  1. From the main Apple menu, go to System Settings > General > Sharing.
  2. Make sure that Screen Sharing is turned off.
  3. Also, turn off Remote Management.

Hopefully, it should help address the issue; if not, keep on reading.

Check what apps have access to your screen

You may see the message telling you about the Mac screen being observed if some apps you’ve installed on your Mac attempt to access the screen. In this case, the issue goes beyond the annoying message; it is more about privacy. It means that reviewing app permissions may not only fix the issue but also give you some peace of mind by protecting your sensitive information from prying eyes.

To check permissions, do the following:

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Settings > Privacy & Security > Screen Recording.
  2. From here, check the apps on the list and remove anything that you do not want to access your screen by clicking -, and it will be gone.

To enhance privacy and security even more, make your way through other tabs under Privacy and revoke unnecessary permissions.


You can manage permissions using CleanMyMac X and its Application Permissions module found within Privacy.

If you do not recognize some apps that appear there, the best thing to do is uninstall them. You can either do it manually by dragging them to Trash and hunting down leftover files or use a dedicated uninstaller tool to do the job for you. If you are not in the mood for manual app removal, we have a tip for you — CleanMyMac X comes with the Uninstaller module that helps you get rid of apps once and forever within a few seconds.

  1. Download CleanMyMac X for free here.
  2. After installing the app, open it and go to Uninstaller from the sidebar.
  3. Select the app you no longer need and click Uninstall next to its name.

That’s it; app removal has never been easier.

Turn off AirPlay and screen mirroring

Another potential reason behind the message that your screen is being observed is AirPlay or screen mirroring. What is interesting here is that it may be true that you’ve already finished using these features, but the message is still there. To check it, follow these steps:

  1. From the menu bar, go to Control Center — it looks like an icon with switches.
  2. Click Screen Mirroring.
  3. No devices should be connected after you’ve stopped sharing.

Next, do the following:

  1. Open System Settings from the main Apple menu.
  2. Go to General > AirDrop & Handoff.
  3. Turn off AirPlay Receiver if you do not plan to use AirPlay and type in your password to confirm the action.

If the message is still there, keep on reading.

Ensure you are not recording the screen

The ability to record the screen is among the most convenient and important features that come with macOS. To do it, you can use either the Screenshot utility or QuickTime Player. While most users know how to record screen on Mac, some of them may forget that it does not stop by itself. Instead, it should be stopped once it is no longer needed; otherwise, it will continue recording the screen even after you lock your Mac.

If it is the case, all you have to do is press Command-Control-Esc. It should stop screen recording instantly, and the alarming message should disappear right away. If this key combination has not worked, look for the icon shown below in the menu bar. Just click on it, and you’re done.

You should have fixed the issue by now; if not, head over to the final tip.

Check for malware

If you’ve tried all of the tips above and nothing has helped, it is time to check your Mac for malware. If you see the “your screen is being observed” message or fear that your screen or Mac camera has been hacked, it may be spyware or ransomware.

So, take the opportunity to scan your computer for malware. You can use the Malware Removal tool in CleanMyMac X. It uses a regularly updated malware database and compares what it finds on your Mac with it. Here’s how to run a Mac virus scan: 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X.
  2. Click Malware Removal > Scan.
  3. After the scan is complete, you’ll see either a clean bill of health or a list of threats. 
  4. If malware is detected, click Remove.
adware found with malware removal module of CleanMyMacX

This app can detect macOS-specific keyloggers, backdoor viruses, and worms. Download CleanMyMac X for free. It is notarized by Apple, meaning it’s safe.

Seeing the “your screen is being observed” message on the lock screen can be alarming and scary. Most of the time, it appears as a result of your actions. In the most severe instances, it is due to having your Mac infected with malware. Either way, the issue is manageable, and hopefully, you could fix it by following one of the tips above.

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