How to Fix the “your screen is being observed” Issue on Mac

You might have a scary feeling that you’re being watched or monitored when your Mac shows a message indicating that your screen is being observed. In most cases, there’s not really anyone observing you but it is an application that has access to view your screen.

In any case, you probably want to disable this, not just to ensure that an intruder can’t access your machine but also because you are probably tired of seeing the pesky message. In most cases, this can be turned off in your System Settings.

My name is Eric and as a software engineer and longtime computer user, messages like this are often concerning to me and make me want to get to the bottom of what is causing it. I can show you how to find out what is causing this on your machine and how to stop it.

Keep reading below if you would like to fix the “your screen is being observed” issue on your Mac. I will show you the settings that you should check as well as how to turn them off. I will also let you know of a few other issues that could be causing this.

Why is This Happening?

There are a number of reasons that you may be seeing the “your screen is being observed” message. In short, it means that something has access to your screen or video output

It’s possible that it could be a person or process with bad intent but most likely it is just a setting that has been left on. To better understand how to resolve this problem, let’s take a look at some of the things that might be causing it.

Reason 1: Applications

One of the most common causes of this issue is an application that has permission to view or record your screen. You may have seen the notification when you installed the application and don’t remember or weren’t paying attention. It may have requested access to your screen or indicated that it would have access to your screen. 

Reason 2: Screen Sharing

Screen sharing is a nice feature built into your Mac. It allows you to easily collaborate with co-workers, get tech support or help with your system, and many other things. If you have used it recently and left some sort of screen-sharing session open, you may be seeing the message.

Reason 3: Screen Recording

This is another great feature of your Mac. It lets you record the actions on your screen for things like presentations, demonstrations, instructional videos, and more. As with screen sharing noted above, if you have left a screen recording session on, there’s a good chance it is causing the message.

Reason 4: AirPlay

Yet another great Apple feature, AirPlay lets you share video between devices. It can also mean that your screen is being shared with another device where it may be observed and therefore it might be causing the message you are seeing.

Reason 5: Glitch

When overloaded, our computers can sometimes do strange things. This is especially true when you haven’t rebooted your system or installed the latest macOS updates. Upkeep and taking care of your system are important and when neglected you can often see your system act strange or glitchy.

Reason 6: Malware

It’s not as likely as the other causes listed above but it is possible that there is some type of malware on your system that may be causing the message. This can be concerning but there are ways to deal with it.

How to Resolve the Issue

As frustrating as this problem can be, solving it can often be simple. In some cases, you may see more difficult problems but for most, one of the fixes below should help you to resolve the issue.

Fix 1: Reboot

It might sound too simple, but often a good reboot of your system will clear up a number of problems. This is especially true if you have not rebooted your system for a long period of time. This can clear up glitches, reset your NVRAM/PRAM/SMC, kill old processes, and clear your memory. 

It’s easy to do. Just click on the Apple symbol in the upper right corner of your screen and then click on Shut Down.

Leave your system shut down for a minute or so and then press the power button to start it back up. I suggest doing a full shutdown (instead of just a Restart) because this ensures everything is reset and cleared.

Once your system starts back up, wait to see if you still get the “your screen is being observed” message. If you don’t see it, you should be good to go. If you do still see it, try the other fixes listed below.

Fix 2: Check Screen Recording

Since screen recording is a common cause of the message, one solution is to make sure you don’t have a screen recording session currently running. You can tell if a screen recording session in QuickTime is running because you will see the circle recording icon in the top menu bar on your desktop.

If you are using some other application to record your screen you can look for it and make sure it is turned off. If you are unsure of how to find it, you might see it in the next section below when I discuss how to check for apps that have access to your screen.

Fix 3: Check Apps that Have Access to Your Screen

There is a good possibility a 3rd party application has access to your screen. This could be an application that you are already aware of such as a screen recording app, or it could be one that you installed and didn’t realize that it was going to access your screen.

Either way, we can take a look to see what applications have access to your screen and then turn that access off if necessary. Follow the steps below to look at and turn off any applications that might have access to your screen.

Step 1: Open System Settings

Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen and select System Settings.

Step 2: Click on Privacy and Security

Click on the Privacy and Security section in the left side panel.

Step 3: Click on Screen Recording

Click on the Screen Recording section in the main window on the right side.

Step 4: Evaluate Apps with Screen Recording Permission

Take a look at the applications that have permission to record your screen. Turn off any that you do not use and you can also remove any that you do not recognize. 

If you want to test to see if this is what is causing the issue, just turn all of them off and see if you still get the message. You can always go back and turn them back on later if needed.

Fix 4: Turn Off Screen Sharing and Remote Management

If none of the above suggestions have stopped the message, you can turn off the screen sharing and remote management features. This should stop the message. You can do this by using the following steps.

Step 1: Open System Settings

Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen and select System Settings.

Step 2: Click on General

Click on the General section on the left side panel of System Settings.

Step 3: Click on Sharing

Click on Sharing on the right side of the System Settings window.

Step 4: Turn Screen Sharing Off

Click on the switch beside Screen Sharing to turn the screen-sharing feature off.

With Screen Sharing disabled, your screen should no longer be able to be observed by anyone else and this should resolve the problem. Just remember that if you ever want to use any screen-sharing features in the future, you will need to come back here and turn it on again.

Fix 5: Turn Off AirPlay

AirPlay is another feature that can allow your screen to be observed by someone else. It’s also another feature that you can easily turn off using the following steps.

Step 1: Open System Settings

Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen and select System Settings.

Step 2: Click on General

Click on the General section on the left side panel of System Settings.

Step 3: Click on AirDrop and Handoff

Click on AirDrop and Handoff in the main window of the system settings screen.

Step 4: Turn AirPlay Features off

Click on the dropdown menu by AirDrop and select no one. Then click on the switch by AirPlay Receiver to turn this off.

Once these features are turned off, they will not be able to allow access to your screen and this will stop any messages caused by this.

Fix 6: Scan for Malware

If none of the above have helped to get rid of the message, it could be that you have some malware or a virus causing the problem. In this case, you should get a malware detector to see if it can find any issues with your system. If it does find anything, use the tool to clean and repair your system.

Fix 7: Make sure macOS is up to Date

Another thing to check is that your macOS is up to date. When your macOS is not up to date, it is possible to see glitches and odd behavior in your system. Check to see if your system needs an update by clicking on the Apple menu and looking for an update message.

If you see an update indicator as shown in the image above, click on System Settings, and then in System Settings, click on the Software Update Available message as shown below to begin the update process.

Once the update has been completed, reboot your system again and then check to see if you are still seeing the message.


Below are some related questions about “your screen is being observed” that you may want to learn more about.

Does the “your screen is being observed” message mean that someone is spying on me?

No, in most cases there is not someone observing your screen or spying on you. While it is a remote possibility, it is very unlikely unless you have a computer given to you from a company you work for and you are connecting to their network and they are possibly monitoring you. 

There may be a slight possibility that someone with bad intentions is monitoring you but it is not common or easy to do and most of the solutions given above can fix the problem if they are.

What if I need to use screen sharing, AirPlay, remote management, or one of the other screen features?

If you have followed the solutions given above and have turned off your screen features but then find you need them, you can go back and turn them back on. 

Hopefully whatever was causing the original message has been turned off and you no longer have the issue. If you are, you can always go back and disable the screen features again once you have done what you need to do with them enabled.

Is it safe to let applications view or share my screen?

In most cases, it is safe as long as the application has been downloaded from the App Store or a reputable, verified website and application vendor. It is not safe if the application is from an unknown source and has not been verified to be software from a legitimate company.


The your screen is being observed issue can be very annoying but it can also be concerning or even scary. Rebooting your system and if necessary, shutting off screen-sharing features will usually fix the problem but if it does not you should try running some malware detection software.

I hope the information above has helped you to resolve the screen being observed issue. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.

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