Why does my laptop have a magnet on it?

My work laptop is a standard Lenovo computer.

Every now and then when I put it front down in my computer bag, when I take it out there’s a paper clip or two, sticking to the front. There appears to be a magnet there.

What purpose does the magnet serve?
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The center of the front, as you’ve got the computer open? I’ve seen some which had one there to help them stay closed, like the magnet+iron closures for closets. With laptops that have it you generally need to push on a little piece at the top of the lid or the center of the bottom’s front in order to start opening them (it depends on which part has the iron and which has the magnet).

You don’t mention what model you have, so a precise answer cannot be given, but magnets in laptop lids are typically for holding the lid closed or actuating a lid open/closed Hall effect sensor.

I’d wager it’s for detecting whether the lid’s closed, as well. Take a magnet and place it in the area where the one in the lid would come to rest upon closing—if it triggers sleep mode (or whatever you’ve set it to do upon closing), then that’s what it is.

A lot of tablet covers have a magnet located at one spot where the tablet itself detects when the cover is closed- time to turn off the screen. These magnets are often separate from the magnets used by the cover itself for latching.

This system is found on tablets that don’t come with covers, third party cover sellers, etc.

So I’d go with cover closed detector as well as latching.

This reminds me of a very confusing bug that my wife encountered. She was doing a video call on her iPad and had the cover folded up under it as a stand. She had it near her laptop so she could reference a document there, and sometimes the magnet in the iPad cover would get close enough to the sensor on the laptop to make it think the lid was closed and the screen would turn off. It took us a long time to figure out, since it didn’t happen reliably. Just enough to think the laptop was flaky.

A similar thing happened to a colleague of mine. In such situations, the Windows Event Viewer is often helpful—you can look for events logged at the appropriate time, and then figure out what caused the sleep mode/shutdown/whatever.

Good tip.

In our case, it was a Mac, and the local Apple store was helpful in figuring out the issue. We went there to run a hardware diagnostic, and when it showed no issues, the Apple employee delved deeper and got more information from my wife and figured it out.

This is most likely. I doubt the magnet would be strong enough to hold the laptop closed.

I have a third-party case for my iPad. When I close the cover I can feel a little magnetic tug to snap it closed, at which point the screen turns off. I don’t know if the magnet is in the iPad or the case, but the iPad certainly knows the case has been closed. I have an old Gateway convertible laptop that also seems to do this when you close it.

This being GQ and all, I’ll point out that the speakers and likely the microphone also use permanent magnets.

Headphone magnets are quite good at turning my tablet on when they get jumbled around to near the magnetic sensor.

So do hard drives- pretty strong magnets too.


Yea, the magnets in hard drives had occurred to me (there’s one on my fridge at home) but the last three or four computers I’ve bought had SSDs. Hard drives are joining CRTs and floppy disks in the ‘magnets used in computing cavern of obsolescence.’

Come to think of it, if the computer has a fan, it probably has permanent magnets, too.