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I have a MacBook Pro. When it senses the ambient light is low, the backlit keyboard turns on, and there are keys that let me control its brightness.

But when enough light reaches the ambient light sensor, the backlight turns off and I can't adjust it:

In some settings the screen may be illuminated, but the keyboard is not well-lit and hard to see, so I'd really like the backlight to turn on. Is there any way to force-enable it?

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up vote 31 down vote accepted

gentmatt’s answer seems useful!

Alternatively, you could try going to System PreferencesKeyboard, and unchecking the “Automatically illuminate keyboard in low light” setting. That should prevent the “disabled” icon from your screenshot altogether.

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LabTick allows you to manually control the keyboard backlight:

enter image description here

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+1. I have Command-F6 set to turn on LabTick (F6 is the backlight brighter key, so it's easy to remember). I found the default settings to be way too low on my early 2008 MacBook Pro, especially since the color of the keys and the color of the letters on the keys were almost the same. – asmeurer Jul 15 '12 at 3:14
I set my toggle to the ± key below escape (on MacBook Air's at least) 1 press on/off is pretty useful! – Steve Jan 12 '13 at 15:22

I tried this after replacing my RAM. It works fine now.

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If the solution isn't too long / detailed (less than 2 screenfuls, say,) you should copy/paste or paraphrase it and put it directly in your answer. This reduces the impact of broken links, which always occur eventually. – gosmond Feb 28 '13 at 8:24

Another solution: put a piece of tape or something over the ambient light sensor. It will always think it is night. The sensor is either below the speakers or on the display somewhere (on my early 2008 MacBook Pro, it was below the speakers; on my new Retina MacBook Pro, it is right next to the camera). You can find it by running your hand across the computer in full light until the keys light up. Note that if it's below the speakers, it might require both speakers to be covered.

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