In Western Europe, we currently have a long spell of warm and dry weather. The perfect moment to combine sunbathing with working from home. However, outside in the sun, the legibility of my laptop screen is greatly reduced when compared to inside the house/office, even when I maximize the display's brightness. Are there any tricks I can use to increase the legibility (and ultimately my productivity)?
I'll share one trick I often use, but I'm definitely interested in more suggestions.

  • I'm not sure there is any good solution to this; even if you do as @Glorfindel suggests you're going to sit there squinting against the contrast inside/outside the box. It's going to hurt eventually. In my opinion, the best solution involves the display, the viewer, and the background to be in similar lighting conditions.
    – KlaymenDK
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:21
  • Hopefully you're wearing sunblock, but then it would be healthier in skin cancer and eye strain terms to just work inside.. I know, we humans are somewhat romantically wedded to this notion that a suntan is a good healthy look but it's kinda odd that we seek burnt/damaged/oxidised skin yet we'd avoid the burnt items on the buffet counter at the restaurant, don't you think? :) "stay safe; melanoma just ain't worth it" says the one who lost 3 family members to it already
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 3:39

4 Answers 4


I forgot where I saw/heard this tip, but I'm often using a cardboard box slightly larger than the laptop to provide shade on the display. At least for me, this makes it more legible. An additional benefit is that this also reduces the amount of sunlight on the laptop, which keeps it cooler and avoids the processor being underclocked, which would decrease performance. A slight disadvantage is that it also partially blocks the sun's rays to my upper body and arms.

Here is how it looks like:

enter image description here

  • 1
    A sunshade is about as good as it gets. You could try tweaking the size/shape to be more compact. Velcro will allow you to make it collapsible and re-assembly will be easier. You could paint the inside black for killing reflections and white on the outside to keep it cooler and to match your white arms and tummy.
    – Stan
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 21:45
  • The photo in the answer still shows reflections on the screen. These will make it hard for a person to see what the screen is showing. That's why my answer suggests ALSO wearing a dark shirt and sitting in front of a dark background; that will minimize reflections. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 13:19

The cardboard box suggested by Glorfindel, and improved upon by Stan's comment, is fantastic. I have another suggestion that can be used with the box or by itself.

Wear a dark shirt, and make sure whatever is behind you is dark. (A wall, a shaded forest, etc.) Much of the reason you can't see the screen is because of reflected light. Therefore, if the screen is facing something dark, there will be less light for it to reflect, and you will be able to see the screen's display better.


In my experience many command line users have bright font on dark background terminal emulators (usually white on black, or matrix-movie green on black), while in bright environments (e.g. outside work), a dark font on a bright background is more legible (black on white).

Of cause this mainly addresses command line users, afaik, office applications are already dark on bright.

  • 1
    Great to see a technology-oriented answer! It won't work for most application I use, which are already black-on-white, but it'll definitely help some other people with the same problem.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:35

To increase the legibility of a computer screen, arrangement should be made to control the fall of run rays directly on the computer screen. This can be done by covering the top of the computer by some wooden surface or cloth , in such a way that the area of the wooden surface or the cloth is more than the area of the top surface of the computer.

  • Thanks for your answer. I didn't mention it explicitly, but I'm already facing the sun, so the rays don't hit the screen directly (at least not on my latitude).
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 13:33

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