Live visual artists, visual producers, media artists, VJs – the best news from Apple this month for us is that the company has added the ability to turn off the orange dots that appear when an audio input is active.

I first reported on this (thanks for the tip) back in macOS Monterey in 2021. Apple added a privacy indicator to show when an audio input or microphone was active. For most users, that’s a good thing since it can show if a malicious app is spying on you — or, more likely, you’ve just accidentally left a mic on at an inopportune moment.

Either way, that’s a serious security concern. But it’s a showstopper for anyone using the video output of their Mac for art, live visuals, and any other visual production where you don’t want that orange dot marring your output. Since a lot of us use the audio input for audio reactive visuals (or other use of audio signal), it comes up a lot.

Since Monterey, there have been various unofficial ways of turning off the orange dot for successive OS versions. If you need to use an OS from macOS 12 Monterey up through previous versions of Sonoma, you can check my most recent article. But these workarounds are unsupported, and some are pretty awkward.

Apple has added an official ability to hide privacy indicators. It still requires a few steps – if it didn’t, theoretically malicious software could exploit the disabling function. But it works well, and it’s easy – and macOS 14.4 is a reliable and mature release of Sonoma that’s likely what you want for this particular use case anyway.

From Apple’s official support document:

To hide privacy indicators – the orange and green dots that appear next to Control Centre in the menu bar to show that your microphone or camera is in use – on an external display while viewing an app in full screen, first execute a system override command in Terminal. Then turn off privacy indicators for external displays in System Settings.

Turn off privacy indicators for external displays on your Mac

Oh, by the way, I can categorically say that dot is “orange” – if an odd shade that can read as yellow depending on your background. At least on my machine’s screenshot I see #cb8c48, which oddly doesn’t match the mic input #f3ad41 … you know, I don’t care, make the damned thing go away and rejoice!

By the way, after doing that, do this:

How to turn off FaceTime video reactions in iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma

Because you also don’t want balloons spontaneously appearing on the video wall you’re running using the internal camera. (Less frequent, but still…)

And please, let’s not get in an OS argument about this. Every desktop OS has these annoyances by default – Linux using any of the major desktops, macOS, and Windows. Disabling audio indications is also part of my workflow. No, the line is whether you can turn it off or not. Rejoice and be free.