The notch has been a big point of contention since the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro were announced. By increasing the height of the macOS menu bar to include the notch height, Apple’s hope is that in most use cases, the notch is easily ignored and does not interfere with content.

This has mostly turned out to be true. However, Apple has included a temporary workaround app launch mode that exists as a fallback in case users run into incompatibilities. This mode is available as a toggle in the Get Info panel, labelled ‘Scale to fit below built-in camera’.

This option is off by default as most apps should work just fine. However, if you notice that an application is trying to put menu items or app chrome in a place on screen that is obscured by the notch (or ‘camera housing’ as Apple names it), you can enable this mode.

To enable the scale-to-fit mode, right click on an application in Finder and choose ‘Get Info’. In the Info panel, activate the checkbox labelled ‘Scale to fit below built-in camera’, and then launch the application. (As detailed below, this checkbox may not always be available.)

When this mode is active, the entire macOS screen is shrunk down to fit in the proportional rectangular space beneath the top notch inset. This means all four sides of the screen are temporarily scaled down whilst you use the app. As soon as you close all apps running in this compatibility mode, the full screen experience is restored.

Given this is a bit of a workaround hack, Apple has still ensured it has a really smooth animation which you can see in this demo video:

As this setting is only meant to be there as a temporary workaround until developers get a chance to update their apps, this checkbox will not always be available. If a developer explicitly annotates their application to say that their app is notch compatible, the checkbox will no longer be shown for that app.

Scale to fit mode would address the issues raised in a viral video yesterday, which showed how ungracefully overflowing menu item and status items are handled if there are too many. However, a per-app workaround should not be necessary to solve that issue. Apple itself needs to update the menubar layout code to more gracefully adapt to situations with constrained space, perhaps by making the status item strip scrollable.

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