Why You Need to Keep Magnets Away from the MacBook Air (Video)

We all know to keep powerful magnets away from traditional hard drives, but we recently found out that you should also keep magnets away from your MacBook Air, something that could get harder now that the iPad 2 has magnets built right into it.

A reader tipped us to an interesting problem regarding the MacBook Air and magnets. It turns out if you place a magnet, like those found in many iPhone cases, between the USB and headphone ports on the left side of the late 2010 MacBook Air the screen will go blank and WiFi will disconnect. You can see the MacBook Air Magnet phenomena in the video below.

We’ve tested this out on a couple MacBook Air 13″ models with the same result. We aren’t sure why this is happening, or if it has any long term consequences yet, but you will probably want to keep the new magnetic iPad 2 and Smart Cover case away from this side of your MacBook Air.

After some discussion we’ve figured out that the reason the MacBook Air display goes blank when you put a magnet in this location is that the MacBooks use a magnet and a sensor to know if the MacBook is closed. If it senses the magnet, the MacBook will go to sleep, turning off the display and the WiFi.

If you were to take a MacBook Air, or other MacBook apart, you’ll find a magnet to the side of the keyboard. If the magnet or sensor fails, the MacBook may not go to sleep and can cause a dead battery.