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What Binoculars Icon on Mac Mean – Features and Functions

If you have seen a binoculars icon on your Mac screen, you may be wondering what it means. At first glance, the binoculars icon can be ambiguous or even suspicious. However, the binoculars icon indicates some helpful features of your computer.


The binoculars icon can appear in two instances: on your locked or login screen or on your active, unlocked desktop screen. Depending on the setting, the binoculars icon signifies and performs different functions.

Locked Screen vs. Unlocked Screen


In both the locked and unlocked screen, the binoculars icon appear in the upper right-hand corner of your screen on your taskbar or menu bar. However, in the locked login screen, the icon means your Mac is currently creating a screen recording. Meanwhile, in the unlocked screen, it indicates that the “Remote Management” option is active on your computer.


Screen Recording


Screen recordings refer to video recordings that are pulled directly from your computer screen. There are several apps out there that can do this for you, but your Mac already comes equipped with tools to do this.


Users who have updated to macOS Mojave can use the shortcut Shift-Command-5 to record and capture images on their screen. An onscreen control menu gives you the option to record the entire screen, a specific section, or take a still image. For screen recordings, once you select the area you would like to record, you simply click on Record in the onscreen controls. To stop recording, click the Stop Recording icon in the menu bar.


For users without an update, QuickTime player can easily create screen recordings as well. In the QuickTime player app, go to File > New Screen Recordings. In a similar fashion to the updated Mac, you can either record the full screen or a particular area.


Binoculars Icon and Screen Recording


When the binoculars icon appears on your locked screen, it indicates that your computer is currently recording your screen. If you happen to lock your screen while a recording is in progress, the binoculars icon will appear in the menu bar to remind you that you have not stopped the recording or that you may have accidentally started a recording.


What is Remote Management?


Aside from screen recordings, the binoculars icon also highlights the “Remote Management” feature of your computer. Now, what is “Remote Management”?  “Remote Management” is linked to Apple Remote Desktop, which is a desktop managing system that allows an administrator to monitor computers in their network from a remote location. Remote Management acts as a type of screen sharing with Apple Remote Desktop that has less to do with security monitoring and more for software deployment or remote help.


Binoculars Icon and Remote Management

That being said, when you see the binoculars icon on your active, unlocked desktop screen, it means that “Remote Management” is enabled, and people do have access to your computer screen.


Visually, this is different from the screen recording feature because if you lock your screen while “Remote Management” is on, you will not see the binoculars icon on the lock screen. This is a useful rule of thumb: if you see the binoculars icon on the locked screen, it is a screen recording. Otherwise, it means  “Remote Management” is enabled.


The “Remote Management” settings can be changed to your preference. An extensive list of settings can be accessed through System Preferences by clicking on the apple icon in the far upper left corner of the screen. From there, you can select Sharing. Under Sharing, you will see that “Remote Management” is selected. Simply deselect this option to turn off “Remote Management” and to remove the binoculars icon from your menu bar.


If you prefer to have Remote Management enabled but without the icon present, follow the same path through System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Management. Under “Remote Management”, there is an option for Computer Settings. Under Computer settings, there is the option to “Show Remote Management status in menu bar”. Now, you have the choice of whether or not to see the binoculars icon. Also, you have several options as to what is shared via Remote Management and can be managed within the same window.


The binoculars icon is a small indicator of several useful features of a Mac. It serves as a reminder of the different methods of screen recording and the various ways to control screen sharing or file sharing that is useful for personal matters or for businesses.


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