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Why is my MacBook screen flickering

why is my macbook screen flickering


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Experiencing screen flickering on your MacBook can be a frustrating issue. This article aims to explore the potential causes and provide solutions to help resolve this problem, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable computing experience.

What could be the cause of my MacBook screen flickering?

Screen flickering on a MacBook can be caused by various factors, ranging from software issues to hardware malfunctions. Here are some common reasons and steps to address them:

  1. Software Glitches or Conflicts:
    • Resolution: Start by checking the display resolution settings. Go to “System Preferences” > “Displays” and ensure the resolution is set correctly for your monitor.
    • Graphics Drivers: Outdated or incompatible graphics drivers can lead to flickering. Make sure your macOS and graphics drivers are up to date.
    • Safe Mode: Booting into Safe Mode can help identify if third-party software is causing the issue. Restart your MacBook and hold down the Shift key until the Apple logo appears.
  2. Hardware Connection Issues:
    • Cables and Adapters: If you’re using external monitors, faulty cables or adapters can cause flickering. Try using different cables or adapters to rule out this possibility.
    • Loose Connections: Check the cables connecting your MacBook to external displays for any loose connections. Re-seat them firmly if necessary.
  3. Graphics Card Problems:
    • Hardware Failure: A failing or overheating graphics card can result in screen flickering. If your MacBook is under warranty, consider contacting Apple Support.
  4. Compatibility Issues:
    • Third-Party Apps: Some third-party applications may not be optimized for macOS, leading to compatibility issues. Update or uninstall such apps.
  5. Battery or Power Issues:
    • Low Battery: If your MacBook is running on low battery, it might not provide enough power to the display, leading to flickering. Plug in your MacBook and see if the issue persists.
  6. Hardware Malfunctions:
    • Display Panel: If none of the software-related solutions work, there may be a hardware issue with the display panel itself. In such cases, it’s best to contact Apple Support.

Remember to back up your important data before attempting any troubleshooting steps. If the issue persists, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance from an Apple service provider or contact Apple Support directly.

Is the flickering occurring consistently or only when running specific applications?

The consistency of the flickering is an essential factor in diagnosing the issue. If the flickering occurs consistently regardless of the application, it suggests a potential hardware or fundamental software problem. In such cases, it’s advisable to start with basic troubleshooting steps. First, ensure that your MacBook is connected to a stable power source using a compatible power adapter. A fluctuating power supply can lead to screen flickering. Next, check for available software updates through the System Preferences, as outdated software can sometimes cause display issues. Additionally, adjusting display settings like brightness and resolution, as well as toggling between light and dark modes, may help identify any immediate visual improvements. If the flickering persists, consider running Apple Diagnostics to detect any underlying hardware problems. This diagnostic tool can provide valuable insights into potential issues with graphic chips or the display system. If no issues are detected, further investigation into software conflicts or bugs may be necessary, including resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) and reviewing energy-saving settings in the Preferences menu.

However, if the flickering occurs only when running specific applications, it suggests a potential software-related problem. Begin by verifying if these applications are up-to-date, as outdated or incompatible software versions can lead to graphical glitches. It’s also worth checking if these applications have any specific graphics settings that may need adjustment. In some cases, conflicts between software components or drivers can cause flickering, so reviewing and updating these elements is essential. Additionally, consider checking the startup disk for any potential errors or corruption that might be affecting application performance. Lastly, evaluate the lighting conditions in your environment, as extreme changes in brightness or contrast could contribute to flickering issues. Taking these steps will help isolate the source of the problem, whether it’s related to specific applications or a broader system-wide concern.

Have you checked for and installed any available updates for your graphics drivers or macOS?

One critical step in troubleshooting flickering issues on a MacBook is ensuring that all software components are up to date. This includes both the operating system (macOS) and the graphics drivers. Outdated or incompatible drivers can lead to various display problems, including flickering. To address this, navigate to the Apple menu, select “System Preferences,” and then click on “Software Update.” Check for any available updates for macOS and install them promptly. Additionally, consider visiting the manufacturer’s website for your graphics card to see if there are any updated drivers available for download. Keeping these components current can resolve compatibility issues and potentially resolve the flickering problem.

In some cases, macOS updates may include fixes or optimizations for display-related issues. It’s also important to verify that your graphics settings are appropriately configured. For example, you can navigate to “System Preferences,” select “Displays,” and ensure that the resolution and refresh rate settings are set correctly for your specific display. Adjustments here can help eliminate flickering caused by incorrect display settings. Additionally, take note of any options related to automatic graphics switching, as this feature can help manage power consumption and may play a role in addressing flickering issues. Taking these steps can go a long way in addressing software-related causes of screen flickering.

Does the flickering change when the MacBook is plugged in or running on battery?

The behavior of the screen flickering can sometimes be linked to the power source. For instance, it’s worth observing whether the flickering changes when the MacBook is running on battery power versus when it’s connected to a charger. If the flickering is more pronounced or erratic when using battery power, it could be an indication of power management settings or battery-related issues. In such cases, adjusting the power management settings or checking the battery health through the “System Information” menu might help address the problem. Additionally, ensure that the power adapter and charging cable are functioning properly and are compatible with your MacBook model. If there are any signs of wear or damage on the adapter or cable, it’s advisable to replace them.

Furthermore, pay attention to the display brightness settings, as extreme brightness levels can sometimes contribute to flickering issues, especially in low-light conditions. Adjusting the brightness using the menu bar or System Preferences may alleviate the problem. Additionally, consider experimenting with different display modes, such as Light Mode and Dark Mode, as flickering may be influenced by the system’s color scheme. If the flickering persists, it’s recommended to consult Apple Support or seek professional assistance to rule out any potential hardware issues.

Is there any pattern to when the flickering occurs, such as during specific tasks or after extended periods of use?

Understanding when the screen flickering occurs can provide crucial insights into the root cause of the issue. Take note if there’s a specific pattern, such as whether it happens during certain tasks or after extended periods of use. For example, if the flickering consistently occurs when engaging in graphic-intensive activities like video editing or gaming, it could be indicative of a graphics card or driver-related problem. Similarly, if the issue arises after prolonged usage, it may be linked to overheating or power management settings. Documenting these patterns can help in isolating the issue and determining if it’s hardware- or software-related.

Furthermore, pay attention to any specific circumstances under which the flickering takes place. For instance, if it predominantly happens in certain display modes like light mode or dark mode, it might suggest a compatibility issue with the graphics settings. Additionally, consider the lighting conditions of your environment, as excessive glare or extreme brightness can sometimes cause visual disturbances. By providing detailed information about when the flickering occurs, you’ll assist in the troubleshooting process and increase the likelihood of finding an effective solution.

Reset NVRAM and SMC

Resetting both your Mac’s NVRAM and SMC can be a great way to deal with minor display issues such as screen flickering. NVRAM stands for Non-Volatile Random Access Memory and is responsible for certain settings related to your Mac’s display, sound, startup disk, time zone, and recent kernel panic information. Similarly the System Management Controller (SMC) governs several low-level system functions such as the power LED indicator light on the front of Macs, thermal management, sleep/wake options, keyboard illumination and more.

If you think the issue may be caused by something wrong with either of these systems it is important to follow instructions carefully when resetting either one. Our website has detailed steps for each type of reset so you can be sure that you are doing it properly. Before attempting to reset either make sure to backup your files in case anything goes wrong during the process. Resetting your NVRAM or SMC should help fix minor anomalies but any more serious issue should be taken up by an experienced technician right away.


In conclusion, if your MacBook screen is flickering, it may be due to software or hardware issues. To determine the cause of the issue, start by paying attention to any patterns in when the flickering occurs and documenting any specific circumstances under which it takes place. Additionally, try adjusting the brightness settings and experimenting with different display modes. Finally, if necessary, resetting both your Mac’s NVRAM and SMC can often help fix minor display issues such as screen flickering. If none of these steps resolve the issue, consult Apple Support or seek professional assistance to rule out any potential hardware problems.


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