The 10 Best Monitor Privacy Filters
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in October of 2015. Perfect for offices that deal in sensitive data, such as medical practices or law firms, or anybody who wants to keep what's on their laptop hidden, these privacy screens keep clients' details and personal information away from prying eyes, while still allowing anyone directly in front of the monitor to see it clearly. Most work as anti-glare and radiation filters, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 10, 2020:
When it comes to privacy screens that work well and are durable over the long haul, it's perhaps not surprising that models from 3M still come out ahead. In fact, we've kept the 3M GF Series and the 3M PF Series as top choices. We especially like the gold, glossy GF Series, which surmounts some of the clarity issues that plain, black filters can have. Both models are available to fit a range of monitors, although as with most other brands, it's tough to find a screen made for those exceptionally large ultrawide monitors.
As for other choices, we added the SightPro Premium on the strength of its UV and blue-light blocking capabilities, which pair nicely with the privacy it offers. We selected the Fellowes PrivaScreen, as well. It's very dark, which can be a good or bad thing; if you're already squinting at your monitor, you might find this version to cause more trouble than it's worth.
The Kensington Snap2 remains on the list as a strong choice, although it tends to be more expensive than most. And, despite this high price, it doesn't seem to provide any better protection than low-cost versions, like the AmazonBasics Widescreen. It does, however, install with a simple spring-loaded mount that stops you from having to mess around with adhesive strips.
August 13, 2019:
Identity theft is not a joke; millions of families suffer every year. One way to prevent people from getting a hold of sensitive information is with a physical privacy filter that darkens when viewed from an angle. Keep in mind a few things about these, though. They only work from an angle, so if your back is turned to a walkway, people walking behind you will still be able to see things relatively clearly. Also, depending on the model, they may slightly reduce display clarity. Third, they work better when screen brightness is relatively low; one way to make them as effective as possible is to turn your brightness down until you can't see the screen, then turn it up until your display is just visible. That should maximize their effectiveness.
You'll notice a few 3M options here, which isn't surprising given their massive presence in categories like this. They're almost certainly among the most effective -- especially their touch-sensitive model -- but they are also pretty costly compared to others. Speaking of 3M's touch model, it comes in a few sizes that are tailored to more obscure displays, including the 12-inch 3:2 display common to a handful of 2-in-1s.
If you're looking for a more economical solution, the AmazonBasics is a great place to start; one of the reasons for that is it's offered in just about the most specific range of sizes and formats, including those specifically made for precisely engineered devices like iPads or Surface Pros. The Vintez and Air Mat are both moderately priced and have numerous sizes available, while E&J and Tech Armor make models that are particularly ideal for iPads and Surface Pros, as they're designed to not interfere with touch capabilities.
PrivateVue Privacy Monitor In situations where privacy is absolutely critical, such as medical practices that require HIPAA compliance, the PrivateVue Privacy Monitor is one to consider. Instead of just a screen, it's an actual monitor with a filter permanently installed — but don't worry, there are a handful of monitor types and sizes to select from, so you aren't limited to a one-size-fits-all option. computersecurity.com
HP EliteDisplay Sure View Monitor There's nothing to install with the HP EliteDisplay Sure View Monitor, which requires only the push of a button to activate the private viewing setting. At 23.8 inches, it offers enough real estate for a variety of tasks, while the anti-glare feature keeps you working comfortably throughout the day. store.hp.com
How A Privacy Screen Works
Privacy screens are designed to appear transparent when one is looking at them straight on, and opaque when viewed from different angles.
Privacy screens are designed to appear transparent when one is looking at them straight on, and opaque when viewed from different angles. Privacy screens are a form of monitor filters, which prevent light from reflecting off of a glass screen. Most make one’s screen appear black from an angle, but some emit a bright color, while still covering up the content on the computer. They are usually made from polycarbonate or acrylic plastic with an anti-glare coating and use angled slats or panels to achieve the desired effect.
Privacy screens can attach directly to your computer in various ways. Some cling onto the screen like a magnet, some have parts that can snap directly onto the top or side of your computer, and some come with installation kits so you can permanently mount the privacy screen.
Many screens have both a glossy and a matte side, the latter of which is ideal for working environments where people sit nearby and the users don’t want to disturb them with the glare from their screen. Professionals who have confidentiality agreements with their clients, like doctors and psychiatrists, benefit from screens that appear entirely black from an angle to ensure their patients privacy and safeguard themselves from any legal repercussions from leaking sensitive patient data.
Documents That Should Always Be Kept Private
Since portable laptops have become commonplace, so has doing personal business in public areas. People often do everything from banking to paying medical bills while sitting at a coffee shop, but it is important one remembers that nobody filters the customers in these places, and anybody can see what they’re doing. Most people don't take the proper steps to securing and organizing important documents.
If a criminal sees that a person suffers from a condition, they may try to scam them into paying enormous amounts of money to a fake doctor who promises help.
If one has to complete confidential computer work in a public space, a privacy screen is critical. When filling out a loan application, people are usually asked to fill out several valuable pieces of information like their social security number and income bracket. If anybody who is looking on sees that a person has a high-income bracket, they may target them for theft and burglary.
Covering up medical bills and other health-related documents is also important. People should be wary when filling out forms for health or life insurance policies when others are around. If an onlooker sees that somebody has an expensive life insurance policy, they may prey on that individual, hoping to get into their close circle of friends and family so they can be put in the will. Even when paying a medical bill one should take pains to cover up their computer screen. If a criminal sees that a person suffers from a condition, they may try to scam them into paying enormous amounts of money to a fake doctor who promises help.
People looking for a new home to lease should keep that fact private. Rental scams are some of the most prominent today, and if someone sees a person looking to lease a home, they might approach and pretend to have a property available. These fake renters require enormous application fees and deposits for properties that do not exist. Even going on social media without covering one’s computer screen can be dangerous. From one’s Facebook page, onlookers can determine information like the name of their children. From there, a con artist can pretend to have a child in the same school as another person, and press them for additional information.
Additional Steps To Securing One's Data
Anyone with sensitive files on their computer should take extra precautions in addition to purchasing a privacy screen to protect their data. Many popular applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat allow users to put passwords on documents so no one can read them who isn’t intended to. For added protection, people can download encryption software that scrambles data in a document, and only unscrambles it if a person presses a specific series of keys.
Many popular applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat allow users to put passwords on documents so no one can read them who isn’t intended to.
It’s also possible to hide one type of data inside of another. This process is called steganography and there are special programs that accomplish it. One could hide an MP3 file inside of a text file, so someone looking through their computer for the data won't know where to search. Anyone concerned about private files should put password protection on their home screen and set their computer to go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity. Anyone else hoping to use it will need to know the password just to access the desktop.
People who regularly send files to outside networks should use Internet Protocol (IP) Security. This protects files in transit, including ones that the user receives. Anytime someone sends a file to another computer, their data becomes vulnerable to hackers so IP Security can prevent privacy breaches. Those concerned with copyright infringement should use rights management services, which let the user control what the recipient can and cannot do with the file, like edit or alter it.