Whether you’re using your laptop for work or entertainment in a public space, you want to keep prying eyes away. But you don’t have to sit in the corner of the room, all you need is a privacy filter.
In 2015, 3M and Ponemon did a study on “visual hacking,” a method where hackers obtain usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information by watching people’s computer screens from across the room. It turns out that the low-tech method of “visual hacking” is extremely successful, and visual hackers can expect their beady eyes to obtain sensitive information with a 91% success rate.
But it turns out that privacy filters are a low-effort method to save yourself from any “visual hacking.” That’s why they’ve become a must-have for professionals and privacy seekers alike. Laptop privacy filters are essentially polarization filters, similar to the filters that are in polarized sunglasses. They prevent certain wavelengths of light from going in certain directions. But while polarized sunglasses prevent harsh light from going directly into your eyes, privacy filters prevent any light from straying to the left or right of your laptop screen, so you can only see the screen when you’re directly in front of it.
Okay, so you’ve logged into Facebook in the middle of a Dunkin Donuts enough times that you want to buy a privacy filter. But there are a lot of different filters out there, and some of them may work better for you than others. Lucky for you, we’ve taken the time to find the best privacy filters for everybody’s needs.
Before you get ahead of yourself, you’ll want to figure out the size of your laptop’s screen. You can use InfoBylp, or Google the serial number that’s on the bottom of your laptop.
Adaptix Touch Screen Compatible Privacy Filters ($25+)
If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable privacy filter for your laptop, then you should take a look at filters by Adaptix. They come in a wide variety of sizes that should fit most laptop screens, and they’re double-sided, so you can choose for your screen to be matte or shiny. Plus, this screen won’t affect your laptop’s touch-screen capabilities, so you can feel free to tap away.
The Adaptix privacy filter comes with two installation options. You can adhere two mounts to the sides of your laptop screen, which let you put on or take off the filter whenever you feel like it. Or you can adhere the filter directly to your laptop screen, a good option if you’d like your privacy filter to double as a screen protector.
Adaptix Laptop Privacy Screen 12.5” – Information Protection Privacy Filter for Laptop – Anti-Glare, Anti-Scratch, Blocks 96% UV – Matte or Gloss Finish Privacy Screen Protector – 16:9 (APS12.5W9)
3M Golden Privacy Filters ($34+)
Golden privacy filters are clearer than black screen filters, so it’s easier for you to see what you’re doing in certain lighting environments. They also reduce blue light exposure by up to 70%, a big plus if you’re worried about how those night shifts are affecting your circadian rhythm. 3M offers golden privacy filters in a variety of screen sizes, including 14″, 12.5″, and 15.6″. They also have golden privacy filters that are meant to accommodate Macbook screens. Like other privacy filters, you have the option to adhere the filter directly to your screen, or to install two mounts on the sides of your screen to make application and removal easy.
These golden privacy filters may seem a bit pricey, but they’re made specifically for professionals that don’t want to sacrifice quality for privacy. Not to mention, they’re made by a company that’s known for quality and innovation (Scotch Tape and Command Strips, among other things).
Just keep in mind that gold filters are a lot more glossy and reflective than standard black privacy filters, which some people may find distracting. These filters also aren’t great for laptops with touch screens, which may be a bummer to anyone that habitually uses their laptop’s touch screen.
3M Gold Privacy Filter for 14" Widescreen Laptop with High Resolution Display (1920x1080) (GH140W9B)
Akamai Office Black and Golden Privacy Filters ($36+)
Akamai Office offers premium privacy filters in both black and gold colors. These filters are a bit thicker than most privacy filters, which is nice for people that work outside or in environments where a laptop might get a little beat up. If you’re stuck between getting a matte privacy filter and a glossy privacy filter, you’ll be happy to know that all of these Akamai Office privacy filters are reversible. One side is matte, and the other is glossy.
Sadly, the Akamai Office privacy filters aren’t touch screen compatible. But they’re still great for anyone that needs a durable, reversible privacy filter.
Privacy Screen Laptop 15.6 Inch (16:9) - Laptop Screen Privacy Shield - Laptop Anti Glare Screen Protector - Blue Light Protection by Akamai
Lenovo Privacy Filters ($35+)
Lenovo is one of the most popular laptop brand among professionals. So it’s no surprise that Lenovo has teamed up with 3M to produce privacy filters for every Lenovo branded laptop. These privacy filters are touch screen compatible, and they usually adhere directly to your screen.
If you use a Lenovo laptop, or you’ve been issued a ThinkPad by your employer, then purchasing a privacy filter directly from Lenovo can save you a bit of time and guesswork. Just keep in mind that they can get a bit expensive, so it might be worth looking to brands like Adaptix if you don’t want to break the bank.