News, Privacy

Resolving the “screen capture” notification issue on MacOS Sonoma

Screen capture notification issue on MacOS Sonoma

Hey everyone!

We recently became aware of an issue that appears for some users of Sonoma, or MacOS 14 – the latest version of MacOS currently rolling out to Macs worldwide. It seems that upon launch in Sonoma, the Opera browser triggers a notification to the user that it’s capturing the screen for a few seconds.

The screen capture notification created uncertainty and concern among users. So it’s important to say up front that this is not part of Opera’s normal functionality – which is why our team immediately investigated. As we discovered, the notification appears due to a particular function in Chromium and has affected Chromium-based browsers in general. We then took steps to address it.

We take our users’ privacy very seriously, and we outline exactly what kind of data we collect and for what purpose, with the user’s knowledge and consent – you can find this information in our Privacy Statement

So, what happened in this case?

Screen capture functionality on Chromium

Chromium contains code that’s meant to help with screen sharing in video calls or other in-browser apps that enable this functionality. If you have tried to share your screen during such a session, you will likely have seen the browser ask for your permission to record your screen. This allows the software to display your screen’s contents to the other participants in the session.

If you have given your permission to do this, Chromium “warms up” this function by capturing a single snapshot of your screen on browser startup, and then deleting that image immediately. It does this so the system can load and cache the necessary elements so that when the user really does want to record their screen during a video call or presentation, everything happens more quickly.

As part of its security improvements, MacOS 14 introduced a notification that lets users know when an application records the screen. While it’s a great security feature, it doesn’t provide enough explanation about what is happening in each case. It’s understandable that users would be worried, seeing this notification without having context for it.

Resolving the issue

This is a valid function in Chromium, and the snapshot that’s taken is immediately discarded afterwards; it is never collected. Still, the lack of information to the user creates equally valid concerns. So, following our next update, we will no longer be using this function in Opera, even though that means the initial loading time when sharing your screen during a video call will be slightly longer.

To sum up: The screen capture notification on MacOS 14 is caused by a workaround in Chromium that’s meant to conserve system resources and save time when you start screen sharing during an in-browser session. While no user data is collected during this check, Opera will be disabling this function to avoid confusion.

More information about the issue in Chromium can be found here and here.

As always, stay safe out there!

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