Keep Out Prying Eyes With A Computer Privacy Screen

Christian Cawley 20-02-2015

Are your co-workers paying too much attention to your display? Is privacy a problem in your office, or do you need to keep someone’s eyes off your desktop computer monitor at home? Perhaps your computer display faces a window, and you want to prevent a neighbour, passer-by or other nosey individual from seeing what you’re reading, viewing or playing?


A privacy screen can help – here are your options.

Keep Unwanted Eyes Away From Your Display

You’re a company director. You’re accessing online bank accounts 6 Common Sense Reasons Why You Should Bank Online If You Aren't Already [Opinion] How do you usually do your banking? Do you drive to your bank? Do you wait in long lines, just to deposit one check? Do you receive monthly paper statements? Do you file away those... Read More . Perhaps you work as a freelance HR consultant; perhaps you’re using data that is sensitive.

Whatever the reason, you need some method of keeping prying eyes away from your computer monitor. Perhaps you have a nosey colleague, or perhaps you’re hotdesking in another department. Crucially, you may work in a freelance hub, and be working on something that could be misused or leaked, thereby costing you your job. The people at the next table in the coffee shop might be taking notes on you.

Several solutions are available that can help you to maintain privacy at work, solutions that would prove useful should you be in a position to monitor other employees, be working on something that is particularly sensitive or just want to avoid your computer activity from being observed by anyone else (this wouldn’t, of course, stop internet history or any network activity from being hidden).

Purchase a Privacy Screen

If moving your display or desk isn’t an option then employing a privacy screen is probably the most sensible option. This is a filter that sits atop your display like a window, and stops anyone but you from viewing the display.



It does this by narrowing the viewing angle, so that only the person viewing the display head-on can see what is onscreen. Think of the difficulty you have viewing a display when you’re too far to the left or right of it – this is an extreme version of that effect.

Several manufacturers produce these screens, and you’ll find a collection of them on Amazon from 3M (such as this 17 inch privacy screen), who offer privacy screens in black and gold for displays of different dimensions. Their privacy screen filters are also compatible with laptop computers.

The DIY Privacy Monitor

If purchasing a privacy filter isn’t something you want to do, and you have an older monitor lying around, you might consider adapting that old, unused display and turning it into a privacy monitor.


The idea here is to take apart the monitor, remove the polarising filter that is between the TFT display and the glass, and replace this with a new polarising filter situated not on the monitor, but in a pair of 3D glasses (or cheap sunglasses). The end result is a bright display that no one can view, unless they have the glasses with the polarising filter. You’ll find a good tutorial on how to make this modification at Instructables. Naturally we would advise not doing this to any hardware that you might later want to revert or sell later.

Here’s a video for a separate but similar project that outlines how to build the screen, and the results.

Use a Smartphone or Tablet

One further option that is worth considering is to cut out the display entirely, or else resize it so that no one else can easily discern its contents. But how might you do that?

The answer is with remote desktop technology. When working on sensitive data, rather than using your display as normal, connect your smartphone or tablet to your PC using a remote desktop app such as GoToMyPC, Splashtop or TeamViewer.


Interaction with your PC (or Mac, or Linux device) can then continue, but with the monitor switched off. With the right sort of smartphone or tablet case, you can even prop the device in place for easy use, and just as easily put it away into your bag or pocket, out of sight (after locking your PC, of course, which you might do manually by pressing WIN+L or by using some sort of proximity lock How to Lock Your Computer With Bluetooth Proximity Lock Utility Read More ). For the best results, make sure your desktop display is disabled completely, by unplugging the VGA or HDMI cable Video Cable Types Explained: Differences Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports All those video cables can get confusing. What is a VGA port? What is DVI? Learn the difference between video cable types. Read More and the mains electric. This will deter all but the most determined nosey parkers.

Do these privacy screens meet your needs? Perhaps you have a better way of keeping your activity private?

You should also check out these guides to understand digital security and protect your privacy 5 Free Guides to Understand Digital Security and Protect Your Privacy  You need to know how to stay secure when using technology. Check these free online guides and protect your privacy. Read More .

Image Credit: Man in balaclava via Shutterstock


Related topics: Computer Monitor, Computer Privacy.

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  1. H. R. Shah
    June 3, 2017 at 9:37 am

    I am getting error like
    your window license will expire soon.
    what is solution?

    • Christian Cawley
      June 4, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Buy a full copy of Windows!