MacBook Air display mysteriously brightens after macOS update


MacBook Air 2018
If your MacBook Air seems a little brighter recently, you’re not imagining it.
Photo: Apple

Installing the latest macOS version on a 2018 MacBook Air increases the maximum screen brightness.

Apple’s own description of this notebook indicates that the highest potential brightness level is now 400 nits. That’s much higher than with this laptop launched.

Upgrade your new MacBook Air

The increase just requires installing macOS 10.14.4, which was released to the general public late last month. The release notes for this version said it “Corrects the default screen brightness for the MacBook Air introduced in 2018.” There’s no explanation of why the level was off before, nor what Apple did to fix it.

But we now know this change means that the max screen brightness went up to 400 nits, according to Apple. The company hasn’t made an announcement, but the Internet Archive shows that on March 1, this Apple still indicated the 2018 MacBook Air had a maximum brightness of 300 nits.

So if your MacBook Air seems a little brighter recently, it’s not just you. With macOS 10.14.4, this notebook’s screen can now put out 33 percent more light.

What’s a “nit”?

Most people only run across references to nits when reading the specifications for new monitors and therefore might be a bit vague about what this term means. A nit is the unit of luminance. It can also be expressed as 1 candela per square meter.

The 2018 MacBook Pro models offer 500 nits. The most recent iPad Pro tablets have 600 nits displays, while last year’s iPhones have 625 nit screens.