Mac: How To Troubleshoot Screen Flickering

Several MacBook users have reported that their screen displays are flickering. Some users have started that the problem would occur randomly. It seems that both retina and non-retina screens may experience this. It further seems that some screen flickering issues are so severe that it makes it almost impossible to look at the screen.

screen flickering mac

See also: Restore your Mac

Mac screen flickering can be caused by different issues. Here is what you can do if your Mac screen is flashing or flickering:

Screen flickering issue, fixes

Please try each step until you resolve your problem:

  1. Restart your Mac by going Apple menu >Restart.
  2. Update the OS on your Mac. You can do so by opening the App Store on your Mac. Then click Updates.
  3. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC). Different Mac models require different steps to do this. Please see this to learn more.
  4. Reset the PRAM (or NVRAM). Here is how:
    1. Shut down your Mac
    2. Start your Mac, and immediately press the Option, Command, P, and R keys together for several seconds (around 20 seconds). Then release the keys. You Mac will look like it is restarting.
  5. On your Mac, go to System Preferences > Energy Saver > and uncheck the option for “Automatic graphics switching” (note that Mac Air models do not have this option, Mac Book Pro models have this option).
  6. Start your Mac up in safe mode. You can use safe mode to identify your issue. Here is how:
    1. Shut down your Mac
    2. Start your Mac and immediately, press and hold the Shift key. Apple logo will appear (do not release the Shift key yet)
    3. Then you will see the login screen (now you may release the Shift key) and login your Mac. Now you are in safe mode. Does flickering still happens? If flickering does not happen, restart your Mac regularly (without pressing any keys). After regularly starting your Mac, does flickering come back? if not, that means that safe mode fixed it.
  7. It seems that, for some users, Firefox is causing this. Try uninstalling Firefox to see if that fixes your flicking problem. You can remove Firefox easily. Here is how:
    1. Close Firefox
    2. Open the Applications folder
    3. Find the Firefox app
    4. And then drag it to the trash
  8. Create a user account on your Mac by going to System Preferences > Users & Groups. Then after, login to your computer as this new user. Check to see if flickering occurs? if not, delete the new user.

If you are still experiencing the problem, it is highly likely that you are having a hardware problem. You may want to contact Apple or make a genius appointment.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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35 thoughts on “Mac: How To Troubleshoot Screen Flickering”

    • Did you find out if this was the problem? I am having the same problem today and yesterday was the first time that I ever used iMovie.

      Reply
    • I was using the iMovie..got flickers and then my computer froze. restarted the computer. then suddenly, odd colors started PPEARING..GREEN TINGE..TURNED RED..AND THEN YELLOW..THEN BLACK AND WHITE..THEN FINALLY STABILISED LATER. ( this was happening as if the computer was trying to work itself around for color matching)
      Once it stopped happening, the computer now flickers (not flashing) in a manner how sometimes phones with low battery act.
      I have tried everything and it still cannot get resolved.
      it however stops happening when I start it in safe mode.
      also in regular mode, If I leave it on standby for sometime, a flicker occurs as if the backlight is loosing power but as long as the mouse cursor is moved..it stops happening.
      I tried upgrading to Catalina but update fails.
      Reinstalled Mojave. it reverts back to original mode.
      and this low level flicker which looks like lcd trying to refresh is driving me insane.
      it becomes more pronounced in iMovie.
      also colors were all off and I had to recalibrate in expert mode to get back ..but still I have an over saturation and hue.
      Any solutions for this?

      Reply
  1. My Mac is just randomly flashing all sorts of colours, and sometimes weird black lines will appear all over the screen…

    Reply
  2. How can I do any of that when I can’t even see the screen at all? It doesn’t even show parts of the screen it just completely looks like this . I tried the PRAM thing and that didn’t work but none of this other stuff I can try ? Please help 🙁

    Reply

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