What Those Orange and Green Dots on Your iPhone Mean

Here's why there's a green or orange dot at the top of your iPhone's screen, and what it means for your privacy.

iPhone users might have noticed that a green or orange dot occasionally appears at the top of their screen. You could be snapping a photo or recording a voice memo, for example, when the tiny, colorful dot pops up on your phone. What gives? Called indicator lights, these green and orange dots alert users when their iPhone is using specific apps and features at the same time.

Below, we explain everything you need to know about the green or orange dot on iPhones—including how they can protect your privacy. Whether you want to screen record on an iPhone or record a phone call or voice memo, these iPhone hacks will change the way you use your smartphone.

What is the orange dot on my iPhone?

If you see an orange dot at the top right-hand corner of your iPhone screen, it means that an app is currently using the phone’s microphone.

Many apps, such as Apple’s Voice Memo and Siri, require access to your iPhone’s microphone to record what you’re saying or to hear a command. An orange dot on your iPhone even appears while you’re making phone calls.

What is the green dot on my iPhone?

A green indicator light at the top of your iPhone screen notifies you that an app is using your phone’s camera. For example, a green dot will appear when you place a call over FaceTime, or record a video using apps like Instagram or Snapchat. More about your iPhone camera: You can also capture images with your smartphone by using the screenshot on iPhone feature, or learn how to delete iPhone photos you don’t want anymore.

How do I find out what app is using my camera or microphone?

When you see the orange or green dot on your iPhone, swipe down from the top right corner of your screen. The name of the app that is using your camera or microphone, as well as an orange microphone symbol or a green camera symbol, will appear at the top of the Control Center. Want more app-related iPhone tricks? Find out how to lock apps on iPhone and organize apps on iPhone.

How do I get rid of the orange and green dots on my iPhone?

The orange and green dots on iPhones are features that you can’t get rid of completely, but turning the indicator lights off is easy. First, find out which app is using your camera or microphone by following the instructions above. Then, simply swipe up from your iPhone’s home screen and swipe up on the app to close it and turn off the orange or green light.

Need an alternative way to see the difference between the camera and microphone indicator lights? You can make the orange dot on iPhones appear as a square instead with Apple’s Differentiate Without Color setting. To turn this feature on, go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size, find “Differentiate Without Color,” and toggle the switch to the “on” position.

Next, try out these iPhone keyboard shortcuts, and add widgets to your iPhone for other faster, more efficient ways to use your iPhone.

Can an iPhone camera spy on me?

With iOS 14 and later, you will be alerted when an app is using your phone’s camera or microphone when it doesn’t need to be, or shouldn’t be. Apple created the green and orange dots on iPhones feature to protect users’ privacy by revealing how and when third-party apps are using their phones.

If an indicator light appears on the screen when you aren’t using your microphone or camera, it may be a sign that an app is accessing them without permission. Find out which app is using your camera or microphone and delete it immediately. You should also report the app by searching for its name on Apple’s App Store and tapping the “Report” button.

Now that you know what the green and orange dots mean on your iPhone, for your privacy, follow these other iPhone security tips to protect your smartphone going forward.

How can I control which apps have access to my iPhone camera and microphone?

Stop an app from accessing your iPhone’s camera by going to Settings > Privacy > Camera, finding the app on the list, and toggling the switch to the “off” position. You can do the same with your microphone by going to Settings > Privacy > Microphone. Now, the app can no longer use your phone’s microphone and camera, and the green and orange dots on iPhones will not appear when you use that app.

While you’re at it, make sure to check other iPhone privacy settings and turn off location tracking on your iPhone.

Sources:

  • Apple Support: “About the orange and green indicators in your iPhone status bar”
  • Apple Support: “Control access to hardware features on iPhone”

Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for RD.com.