New macOS 'Compatibility Mode' Options Let Developers Decide How Fullscreen Apps Handle the Notch

While users and developers come to terms with the fact that the last-minute notch rumor for the new MacBook Pros was true, Apple has released new Human Interface Guidelines explaining how developers can make the best use of the extended screen areas around the camera housing if they think their app would benefit from it.

macbook pro 2021 notch
According to the new documentation, the fullscreen mode in macOS Monterey features a "compatibility mode" that automatically accounts for the camera housing by placing a black bar across the top of the screen to hide the notch and prevent app content from being placed there.

However, macOS also includes a new "NSPrefersDisplaySafeAreaCompatibilityMode" property list key that lets developers specify whether their apps should conform to compatibility mode or if their apps can expand to use the space on either side of the notch.

On Macs that include a camera housing in the screen bezel, the system provides a compatibility mode to prevent apps from unintentionally putting content in the region the housing occupies. When this mode is active, the system changes the active area of the display to avoid the camera housing. The new active area ensures your app's contents are always visible and not obscured by the camera housing.

macos notch new macbook pros
On Macs that have a notch, the Finder automatically adds a checkbox to an app's Get Info panel that can be used to manually enable or disable the new compatibility mode. Alternately, developers can force compatibility mode on or off using new code properties that define the safe area of the screen and allow them to make use of the areas on either side of the notch for active content.

Developers should confirm that their app layouts do not overlap with the notch area before setting the NSPrefersDisplaySafeAreaCompatibilityMode key to "false" to bypass compatibility mode.

The inclusion of a notch allowed Apple to make the bezels on the new 14-and 16-inch MacBook Pros considerably thinner compared to the previous 13-inch and 16-inch models. The new Liquid Retina XDR displays also feature ProMotion technology, which allows the screen to run at as high as 120Hz, and as low as 24Hz, similar to the iPad Pro.

The new MacBook Pros are available to order now and begin shipping next week, but delivery dates for various MacBook Pro configurations have already slipped, with some of the 16-inch MacBook Pro models now listing delivery dates ranging from November 2 to November 16, up from the original October 26 delivery date.

Update: This article was updated to clarify how the property list key for compatibility mode functions.

Related Forums: MacBook Pro, macOS Monterey

Top Rated Comments

Prabas Avatar
7 weeks ago
People don't realize that the notch area is extra screen space.

Attachment Image
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mockletoy Avatar
7 weeks ago

I feel like this is such a clunky solution for something that we didn't really need? Is this to house a single webcam? In full screen mode your screen size is smaller than it could've been…
It’s really not. In full screen mode your screen is the same size and aspect ratio it would have otherwise been.

In regular desktop mode, you get extra space, bringing the aspect ratio from 16:10 to something much closer to 3:2.

The thing most people seem to be forgetting is that on PC laptops that have have razor thin bezels, no notch, and a webcam, the cam is either in a weird place or it’s a piece of low-res garbage (with a tiny sensor).

I really do not understand why people are so up in arms about this. It makes the screen bigger in one mode, the same size in the other, and the camera vastly better.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
7 weeks ago
What a relief. I was worried I wouldn't be able to see the notch when using full screen mode.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mockletoy Avatar
7 weeks ago

Let's be clear here: this upper space is NOT an "extended screen area", right? The notch cut's into the regular screen resolution, right? The Finder configuration option therefore cut's away display space and will downscale the full screen app, is it?
That is all entirely wrong.

It is an extended space. In fullscreen, with the notch area blacked out, the screen is regular old Apple 16:10 that it’s always been.

In regular desktop mode, you get extra space for the menu bar and below that is the same old Apple 16:10 rectangle.

So, in desktop mode you get more space for content because the menu bar has been pushed up into the area previously occupied by the bezel, and the overall aspect ratio is closer to 3:2 than 16:10.

You lose nothing, in either mode.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mockletoy Avatar
7 weeks ago
I cannot begin to fathom why people cover their MacBook webcams with tape, for so many reasons.

1) The camera cannot physically activate without turning on the LED. It just can’t. If the camera has power, the LED has power.

2) If someone has so thoroughly owned your computer that they can spy on you through your webcam, then they already have total access to your system and you’re screwed anyway, so worrying that they’re going to catch you picking your nose while they riffle through every file on your system seems a bit hysterical to me.

3) How do you disable the microphones? Or do you just take extra care to never say anything sensitive within earshot of your MacBook?

It’s all quite silly, isn’t it?
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BvizioN Avatar
7 weeks ago

A larger bezel would be a much much better solution
For you I guess, for many others not. I would rather have a "bezel" I can use for menu icons rather than a dead frame. And lets be honest, not many people are fan of thick bezels. Just the way it is.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

macos notch hides in full screen

macOS Hides the Notch on New MacBook Pro in Full-Screen Mode

Monday October 18, 2021 1:49 pm PDT by
The new MacBook Pros, for the first time in a Mac, feature a notch. While some have been quick to criticize Apple's design choice, it turns out that the notch may not be entirely visible in day-to-day use when using apps in full screen, as when macOS apps are in full-screen mode, it essentially disappears. According to Apple's marketing material, when macOS apps are in full-screen mode,...
macbook pro 2021 notch feature

Apple Says Notch is a 'Smart Way' to Give Users More Space for Content on New MacBook Pros

Sunday October 24, 2021 12:35 pm PDT by
The notch on the newly redesigned MacBook Pro offers a "smart way" to give users more room for their content and allowed Apple to make the bezels thinner and provide more screen real estate to customers, an Apple official has said during a recent media interview. The inclusion of a notch on the entirely revamped MacBook Pros was a surprise and was one of the few last-minute rumors that...
MacBook Pro Notch Feature

New MacBook Pro Could Have a Notch, Says Sketchy Last-Minute Rumor

Friday October 15, 2021 8:22 am PDT by
Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models could feature a notch containing the webcam, according to a sketchy last-minute rumor that is circulating online. MacRumors' render of a next-generation MacBook Pro with a notch. The rumor appears to have originated from a Weibo user in China, who stipulates that the redesigned MacBook Pro will feature a notch. It apparently has a size "similar to iPhone...
macbook pro 2021 notch feature2

How the Mouse Pointer Deals with the Notch on the MacBook Pro

Tuesday October 19, 2021 1:57 pm PDT by
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros both feature a notch, a first for the Mac. Given we've never had a notch on a Mac, there are some questions over how macOS handles the notch, and more specifically, how the mouse pointer does. The predicament about how the mouse pointer handles the notch has been a question floated across Twitter and Reddit over the last 24 hours or so since the new...
M1X MBP Feature

Apple Plans to Obscure MacBook Pro Notch With Wallpaper in Marketing Images

Sunday October 17, 2021 11:20 am PDT by
Last minute rumors that came out just days ago suggest that the MacBook Pro will feature a notch at the top for the 1080p webcam and ambient light sensor, but it turns out information about a notch was shared months ago by a Chinese leaker that may have been the source for several other rumors about the upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. In a forum post shared in August, "ty98" ...
mbp flattened with notch

Apple Patent Offers Sketch of Possible Notch Implementation in New MacBook Pros

Sunday October 17, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Following the last-minute rumor that Apple's upcoming new MacBook Pro models could feature a notch at the top of the display, much of the online discussion has involved concerns that such a notch would encroach on the active screen area, potentially eating into the macOS menu bar. MacRumors concept render of notched MacBook Pro display However, it's worth noting that Apple has explored ways...
remove notch app feature2

Can't Get Used to Your MacBook Pro's Notch? These Apps Will Hide It for You

Wednesday October 27, 2021 3:54 am PDT by
If you bought a new MacBook Pro and you're having a hard time acclimatizing to the notch at the top of the screen in the middle of the menu bar, there's an app for that. The inclusion of a display notch on the redesigned MacBook Pros was a surprise to most observers and was one of the few last-minute rumors that surfaced ahead of their unveiling. Some have since criticized Apple's design ...
macbook pro notch weibo

MacBook Pro With Notch Was Potentially Leaked Months Ago in Stolen Schematics

Sunday October 17, 2021 10:45 am PDT by
Following a last-minute rumor that upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models could feature a notch at the top of the display, it has come to our attention that this design was potentially leaked in stolen schematics months ago. Back in April, a ransomware group known as REvil publicly stated that it had gained access to internal information from Apple supplier Quanta Computer in...

Popular Stories

airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
macbook pro 13 inch banner

Apple Planning Five New Macs for 2022, Including Entry-Level MacBook Pro Refresh

Sunday December 5, 2021 7:55 am PST by
Apple is working on five new Macs for launch in 2022, including a new version of the entry-level MacBook Pro, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said that he expects Apple to launch five new Macs in 2022, including: A high-end iMac with Apple silicon to sit above the 24-inch iMac in the lineup A significant MacBook Air...
MBA Mock White Front Blue

2022 MacBook Air Getting Major Display Upgrade With One Drawback

Friday December 3, 2021 3:01 am PST by
Apple's next-generation MacBook Air is reportedly set to bring over many of the new MacBook Pro's features, with one noticeable omission, according to recent reports. The latest MacBook Pro models feature a mini-LED "Liquid Retina XDR" display with deep blacks and support for up to 1,600 nits peak brightness. The display also features Apple's "ProMotion" technology, which is capable of...
m3 feature black

Macs With 'M3' Chips Expected to Use TSMC's 3nm Chip Technology With Test Production Reportedly Underway

Thursday December 2, 2021 7:36 am PST by
Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built on its 3nm process, known as N3, according to Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed industry sources, claims that TSMC will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022 and start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Apple and Intel in the first quarter of...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors

2022 Apple Watch Lineup Rumored to Include New Apple Watch SE and 'Rugged' Model for Sports

Sunday December 5, 2021 8:22 am PST by
Apple is planning an entire revamp of its Apple Watch lineup for 2022, including an update to the Apple Watch SE and a new Apple Watch with a rugged design aimed at sports athletes, according to respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. Writing in the latest installment of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for 2022, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple is planning an update to ...