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How to Fix MacBook Screen Flickering: 20+ Best Solutions

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Last updated: September 15, 2023

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Ever found yourself distracted by a flickering MacBook screen while in the middle of an important task or a binge-watching session? Annoying, right? But the good news is it’s fixable.

Whether you’re tech-savvy or a complete beginner, this guide has got you covered with the best solutions to troubleshoot and resolve MacBook screen flickering. From quick display tweaks to more advanced fixes, I’m here to save your screen and your sanity. So, let’s dive right in!

Before We Begin

Keeping your Mac running smoothly can seem complicated. Before taking any extreme measures, ensure your system is up-to-date and you’ve cleared out any cache files. MacKeeper can help you perform these tasks quickly and without any hassle.

Why Is Your Mac Screen Flickering?

Screen flickering on a Mac can be caused by various factors, ranging from software issues to hardware problems. Here are some common reasons:

  1. 🛠️ Software Glitches: Sometimes, updates or newly installed applications can cause compatibility issues that result in screen flickering.
  2. 🖥️ Display Settings: Incorrect screen resolutions or refresh rate settings can also contribute to a flickering display.
  3. 🎮 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) Issues: Problems with your Mac’s GPU can cause visual disruptions, including flickering.
  4. 🔌 Hardware Problems: Damaged cables, loose connections, or issues with the display hardware can be culprits.
  5. 📱 Interference from Third-Party Apps: Some applications running in the background may conflict with the display settings.
  6. 🐞 Operating System Bugs: Occasionally, macOS itself may contain bugs that cause screen issues.

Understanding the root cause of the flicker can guide you toward the most effective solution, saving you both time and unnecessary stress.

Basic Troubleshooting to Fix Mac Screen Flickering

Before diving into complex solutions, there are some basic troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve screen flickering issues on your Mac. Here they are:

  • 🔄 Restart Your Mac: Simply turning off your Mac and turning it back on can solve a range of issues, including screen flickering. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner and select Restart.
click the apple icon and select restart
  • ⚙️ Check Display Settings: Go to System Settings > Displays and make sure your screen resolution and refresh rate settings are correctly configured.
click displays in system settings
  • 🔌 Disconnect Peripherals: Unplug all external devices, including external monitors, keyboards, and USB drives. Reconnect them one by one to identify if any of these are causing the flicker.
  • ❌ Close Background Processes: Quit all unnecessary apps and programs running in the background to see if they are causing the flickering. Here’s how to kill background processes on your Mac:
  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Force Quit from the dropdown menu.
click the apple icon and select force quit
  1. A window will appear with a list of active applications.
  2. Select the application you want to terminate.
  3. Click the Force Quit button at the bottom of the window.
force quit any processes that are causing problems
  1. Confirm that you want to force quit the application, and it will be terminated.
uconfirm by clicking force quit
  • 🔍 Inspect for Hardware Damage: Check your Mac and connected hardware (like cables and external monitors) for visible damage.

How to Fix MacBook Screen Flickering

If you’ve tried basic troubleshooting but your Mac screen is still flickering, you may have to try advanced solutions. Below, I’ve shared some quick and easy, but slightly advanced methods to fix your MacBook screen flickering issue.

1. Update Your macOS

Updating your macOS is often an overlooked but remarkably effective step in resolving various issues, including screen flickering. Apple frequently releases updates that come packed with bug fixes, performance improvements, and enhanced security features.

Here’s how to update macOS on your Mac:

Before you update your macOS, make sure you back up your important data.

  1. Click the Apple icon in the menu bar and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click General in the left sidebar and select Software Update.
click general and select software update
  1. In the Software Update settings, you will see information about the current macOS version installed on your Mac and any available updates.
  2. If an update is available, you will find a button labeled Update Now. Click the Update Now button to initiate the download process. The macOS update files will start downloading to your Mac.
click the update now button
  1. Once the download is complete, the macOS installer will automatically launch. 
  2. Your Mac may restart multiple times during the installation.
  3. Once the installation is complete, your Mac will restart with the latest macOS version.

2. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) can be a powerful solution for fixing screen flickering, among other hardware-related issues. The SMC is responsible for low-level system performance, power management, battery control, and thermal management.

Here’s how to reset the SMC on your Mac:

With a Removable Battery

  1. Shut down your Mac
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Remove your MacBook’s battery.
remove macs battery
  1. Press and hold the Power button for 5 seconds while the battery is removed.
press and hold the power button on your mac
  1. Release the Power button and reinstall the battery.
reinstall macs battery
  1. Turn on your Mac by pressing the Power button.
press and hold the power button on your mac

With Non-Removable Battery

  1. Tap the Apple icon and select Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option keys with the power button for 10 seconds.
macbook air power shift control option keys
  1. Release all the keys and press the power button to turn on your MacBook.
  2. After your MacBook restarts, observe the screen to see if the flickering issue is resolved.

3. Reset the PRAM or NVRAM

Resetting the Parameter RAM (PRAM) or Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM) can resolve issues related to screen resolution, battery settings, and other system settings. This step is particularly effective for display issues like screen flickering.

Manually resetting the NVRAM/PRAM only works for Intel-based Macs. If you have an M1 or M2 Mac, all you have to do is restart your system and it will take care of the rest itself.

Here’s how to reset the NVRAM/PRAM on your Mac:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
macbook air touch id
  1. Press and hold the Option ⌥ + Command ⌘ + P + R keys simultaneously on your Mac’s keyboard before the gray screen appears.
macbook air option command p r keys
  1. Keep holding the keys until your Mac restarts and you hear the startup chime twice. If you have a Mac with the T2 Security Chip, keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears and disappears twice.
  2. Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.
  3. Once your MacBook reboots, monitor the screen to see if the flickering has been resolved.

4. Run Apple Diagnostics

Running Apple Diagnostics is an excellent way to identify any underlying hardware issues that could be causing your MacBook’s screen to flicker. This built-in tool scans your system for hardware problems and provides you with suggested solutions.

Here’s how to run Apple Diagnostics on your Mac:

On Apple Silicon Mac

  1. Disconnect all peripheral devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Power off your Mac.
  3. Power on your Mac and continue holding the power button until the startup options screen with the Options icon appears.
startup options screen
  1. Press the Command ⌘ + D keys.
Press the Command D keys

On Intel-Based Mac

  1. Disconnect all external devices except the keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, display, and power cable.
  2. Shut down your Mac from the Apple menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Press the power button and immediately press and hold the D key on your keyboard until a list of languages appears.
Press the power button and D
  1. Select a language, and Apple Diagnostics will start automatically.
select a language touse apple diagnostics
  1. Apple Diagnostics will provide solutions or suggest next steps based on the test results. Follow these recommendations to resolve the flickering issue.
report listing any issues detected
  1. If Apple Diagnostics identifies a hardware problem that you can’t fix yourself, you may need to take your MacBook to an Apple Store or authorized service provider for repairs.

5. Boot Into Safe Mode

Booting into Safe Mode is a great way to isolate issues and determine if the screen flickering is caused by third-party software or drivers. In Safe Mode, macOS will only load essential system software, making it easier to identify and fix problems.

Here’s how to boot your Mac into safe mode:

Apple Silicon Macs

  1. Click the Apple icon and choose Shut Down from the drop-down menu.
click the apple icon and select shut down
  1. Wait for your Mac to shut down completely, and press the Power button to turn it on.
macbook air touch id
  1. Keep holding the Power button until you see the Loading startup options screen.
loading startup options screen on mac
  1. Select a volume from the options.
select a volume
  1. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
macbook air shift key
  1. Your Mac will restart automatically, and you will see Safe Boot in the menu bar when the login screen appears.
safe boot mode on mac

Intel-Based Macs

  1. Restart or turn on your Mac and press and hold the Shift ⇧ key immediately.
macbook air shift key
  1. Keep holding the Shift ⇧ key until you see the login screen.
  2. Release the Shift ⇧ key and log in to your Mac.
  3. You may be asked to log in again.
  4. You’ll see Safe Boot in the menu bar on your first or second login window.
safe boot mode on mac

6. Remove Junk and Cache Files

Accumulated junk and cache files can sometimes interfere with system processes, potentially leading to issues like screen flickering. Clearing these files can free up system resources, enabling your MacBook to run more smoothly.

Here’s how to clear junk files on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder, click Go in the menu bar, and select Go to Folder.
click go in the menu bar and select go to folder
  1. Type in the following path and press Enter:
~/Library/Caches
type library caches in the window
  1. Select the cache files you want to delete or select all cache files. Right-click the selected files and select Move to Bin.
right click system folders and select move to bin
  1. Right-click the Bin icon in Dock and select Empty Bin to delete junk files from your Mac permanently.
right click the bin and select empty bin

Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper to clear the cache files on your Mac without manually identifying the files. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Now launch MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup
  1. From the list of detected items, choose which ones you want to remove from your Mac or click Check All.
select junk files to remove or click check all
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files
  1. Wait for MacKeeper to finish cleaning. When it’s done, you’ll get a Cleaning Completed notification. Click Rescan to scan your Mac again.
click rescan in safe cleanup

7. Disable True Tone (for 2018 Macs and Newer) and Dark Mode

Disabling features like True Tone and Dark Mode can sometimes resolve screen flickering issues, particularly on MacBooks from 2018 and newer. These features adjust the color and lighting of your display, which could potentially cause flickering under certain circumstances.

Here’s how to disable True Tone on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and tap System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click Displays.
click displays in system settings
  1. Toggle off the True Tone option in the right pane.
toggle off the true tone option

Now, let’s move to the Dark Mode.

Sometimes, you make your Mac Dark Mode for the aesthetics, but if that’s causing a screen flickering issue on your system, you may want to disable it. Follow these steps to disable Dark Mode on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In System Settings, click Appearance in the left sidebar.
click appearance in system settings
  1. In the Appearance section, you will see options for Light, Dark, and Auto.
  2. Click the Light option to switch back to the standard Light Mode.
Click the Light option to switch back to the standard Light Mode


It’s a good idea to restart your MacBook to make sure the changes take full effect. Once your MacBook has rebooted, observe the screen to see if the flickering issue has been resolved.

8. Disable Automatic Graphics Switching

Disabling Automatic Graphics Switching can be another effective solution for screen flickering, especially if you’re using a MacBook Pro with dual GPUs. This feature aims to conserve battery life by switching between the integrated and dedicated GPUs, but sometimes it can cause display issues.

This method only works on MacBook Pro with an integrated and discrete GPU.

Here’s how to disable automatic graphics switching on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Battery.
  2. In the Battery menu, click Battery in the left sidebar.
  3. Uncheck the box next to Automatic graphics switching to disable it.
  4. To ensure the changes are fully implemented, restart your MacBook and observe your screen to see if the flickering has been resolved.

9. Disable the Screen Flashing Alert

The Screen Flashing Alert is an accessibility feature on Mac that flashes the screen to notify you of system alerts. While it can be useful, it can also cause screen flickering issues. If you’ve been experiencing flickering that coincides with system alerts, disabling this feature could help.

Here’s how to disable the Screen Flashing Alert on Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, click Accessibility and select Audio in the right pane.
click accessibility and select audio
  1. Toggle off Flash the screen when an alert sound occurs.
toggle off flash the screen when an alert sound occurs
  1. Restart your MacBook and observe your screen to see if disabling the Screen Flashing Alert has resolved the flickering issue.

10. Turn Off Mac’s Low Power Mode

Low Power Mode is designed to extend battery life by reducing the overall power usage, including dimming your screen or reducing graphics performance. However, in some cases, this mode might be causing your MacBook’s screen to flicker.

Here’s how to turn off your Mac’s Low Power Mode:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, select Battery.
click battery in system settings
  1. Click the dropdown button next to Low Power Mode and select Never to disable the feature.
select never from the low power mode dropdown button

Turning off Low Power Mode may result in reduced battery life, but it could potentially solve the problem of screen flickering, allowing for a better user experience.

11. Disable Hardware Acceleration for Browsers

Hardware acceleration is a feature in web browsers that uses GPU to speed up processes like video playback, but it can sometimes cause display issues like screen flickering. Disabling it might resolve the problem.

Here’s how to disable hardware acceleration for both Chrome and Firefox:

For Chrome

  1. Launch the Chrome browser on your MacBook.
  2. Click the three-dots icon in the top-right corner and select Settings.
click three dots at top right corner of screen and select settings
  1. Scroll down to the System section within Settings.
  2. Toggle off the Use hardware acceleration when available switch.
toggle off the use hardware acceleration when available switch in the system tab

For Firefox

  1. Start the Firefox browser on your MacBook.
  2. Click the three-line icon in the top-right corner.
click the three lines in the top right corner of firefox
  1. Select Settings.
select settings from the drop down menu
  1. In the General tab, scroll down to the Performance section.
scroll down to performance section in the general tab
  1. Uncheck the boxes next to Use recommended performance settings and Use hardware acceleration when available.
uncheck the boxes next to use recommended performance settings and use hardware acceleration when available

12. Drain Your Mac’s Battery

While it might seem counterintuitive, completely draining your MacBook’s battery and then recharging it can sometimes resolve power-related issues, including screen flickering.

Use your MacBook as you normally would until the battery is completely drained and the device shuts down automatically. Once it’s turned off, let it stay off without charging it for at least an hour.

Then, connect your MacBook to its charger and plug it into a power outlet. Allow the battery to charge to 100% without turning it on. Once fully charged, turn your MacBook on. After your MacBook has restarted, monitor the screen to see if the flickering issue has been resolved.

Note that frequent complete draining of your MacBook’s battery can reduce its lifespan, so this should be considered more of a one-time troubleshooting step rather than a regular practice.

13. Disable Shake Mouse Pointer to Locate

The Shake Mouse Pointer to Locate feature magnifies your cursor when you shake the mouse or move the trackpad vigorously, making it easier to find. However, this feature can sometimes contribute to screen flickering issues.

Here’s how to disable it:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. In the System Settings window, select Accessibility and click Display on the right.
click on accessibility select display
  1. Scroll down to the Pointer section and toggle off the Shake mouse pointer to locate option.
toggle off shake mouse pointer to locate

Disabling this feature might make it a tad harder to locate your mouse pointer on a cluttered screen, but it could resolve the MacBook screen flickering issues you’ve been experiencing.

14. Delete Conflicting Apps

Some third-party apps can conflict with your MacBook’s system resources, causing issues like screen flickering. If you’ve recently installed new software and started experiencing this problem, it may be worth investigating these applications as potential culprits.

Here’s how to uninstall conflicting apps on Mac:

  1. Click the Finder icon in the Dock.
click finder in your dock
  1. Open the Applications folder from the left sidebar.
open finder and select applications in the left sidebar
  1. Scroll through the list of apps in the Applications folder and locate recently installed apps, particularly those that may affect system performance or display settings.
  2. Click the app icon and drag it to the Bin icon in the Dock. Alternatively, right-click the app icon and select Move to Bin from the context menu.
right click an app folder and select move to bin
  1. After dragging the app to the Bin, right-click the Bin icon in the Dock and select Empty Bin.
right click the bin and select empty bin
  1. Restart your Mac to ensure that all changes are applied.

Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper’s Smart Uninstaller to remove unwanted apps from your Mac. Here are the steps:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller
  1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller
  1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
click rescan in smart uninstaller

15. Remove Startup Items

Startup items are applications that automatically launch when you boot up your MacBook. While convenient, some of these apps may be causing your screen to flicker, particularly if they are outdated or incompatible with your current macOS version.

Here’s how to remove unnecessary login items on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen and tap System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select General and click Login Items in the right menu.
click general and select the login items tab
  1. Here, you’ll see the items that launch when you start up your Mac.
  2. Select the login item you want to remove and click the button at the bottom of the list to remove the login item.
select an item and click the minus icon to delete it

Alternatively, you can use MacKeeper to remove login items on your Mac. Follow these steps to do it:

  1. Download MacKeeper and install it on your Mac.
  2. Open Login Items under Performance in MacKeeper.
tap login items under performance
  1. Click Start Scan.
tap start scan
  1. Select unnecessary items from the list and click Remove Selected Items.
select the files you want to delete and tap remove selected items
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up.
tap remove on the pop up
  1. It will remove your selected items from the system startup list. You can click Rescan to repeat the process.
tap rescan

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides removing junk files, uninstalling apps, and deleting login items, MacKeeper can do many other Mac maintenance tasks. You can use it to update apps on your Mac, scan your Mac for viruses, and connect to the internet privately via VPN. Learn more about its features in my detailed Mackeeper review.

16. Reinstall macOS

Reinstalling macOS is generally considered a last-resort measure, but it can effectively resolve a wide range of issues, including screen flickering. This process will wipe your computer clean, so make sure you’ve backed up all essential data before proceeding.

Here’s how to reinstall macOS on your Mac:

  1. Use Time Machine or another backup method to save all your important files.
  2. Turn off your Mac and turn it back on while holding down the Command ⌘ + R keys on your keyboard. Keep holding the keys until the Apple logo appears.
press Command R
  1. This will boot your Mac into the Recovery Mode. Once it loads, select Reinstall macOS and click Continue.
click reinstall macos in macos utilities
  1. Follow the on-screen instructions to select your startup disk and begin the reinstallation process.
  1. After the installation is complete, your Mac will restart and display the Setup Assistant. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Mac.
  2. Once you’ve completed the setup process, you should have a fresh macOS installation. Observe your MacBook’s screen to see if the flickering has been resolved.

The Rare Case: The ‘Flexgate’ Issue

The ‘Flexgate’ issue is a less common but notable reason for MacBook screen flickering, primarily affecting MacBook Pro models from 2016 and later. This problem arises due to a flaw in the design of the display’s flex cable, which can wear down and cause the screen to flicker or display uneven lighting.

Here’s what you can do if you suspect the MacBook Flexgate issue:

  1. Confirm that your MacBook Pro model falls within the 2016 and later range, as these are the models primarily affected.
  2. If your MacBook is still under warranty or covered by AppleCare for Mac, contact Apple Support for a professional diagnosis and potential free repair.
  3. If it’s not under warranty, consider getting it repaired at an Apple Authorized Service Provider, although this will likely come at a cost.

It’s generally not recommended to attempt a DIY repair for Flexgate, as it involves sensitive components.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of the Flexgate issue, it’s essential to address it as soon as possible. Given the complexity and potential cost involved in repairing this issue, professional assistance is strongly recommended.

Fix Your Mac’s Flickering Screen Issue

Screen flickering on a MacBook can be annoying and disruptive, but the good news is that solutions are available. Now that you know how to fix a screen flickering issue on your Mac, here are a few more tips to troubleshoot other Mac-related issues:

  • A black screen issue on a Mac arises due to malware, overheating, software conflict, faulty settings, and more. Identifying the root cause can help fix the issue quickly.
  • If you’re seeing a white screen on Mac, a corrupt OS, outdated software, or faulty hardware may be the reason.
  • If your Mac won’t shut down, there may be several underlying issues you need to address and shut it down in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is my MacBook screen flickering?

    Your MacBook screen could be flickering due to a variety of reasons ranging from outdated macOS software to hardware issues. Common fixes include updating your operating system, resetting the System Management Controller (SMC), and disabling hardware acceleration in browsers. For hardware-related flickering, professional diagnosis and repair may be necessary.

  2. Does disabling True Tone and Dark Mode help with screen flickering?

    Yes, disabling True Tone and Dark Mode has been effective in resolving screen flickering issues for some MacBook users. These features adjust display settings that could interfere with other system processes, potentially causing flicker. However, it’s worth noting that this may not be a universal fix for everyone.

  3. Can third-party applications cause screen flickering?

    Yes, third-party applications can potentially cause screen flickering on your MacBook. Apps that modify display settings or interact with graphics hardware may conflict with your system, leading to flickering issues. Uninstalling or updating the problematic app usually resolves the flickering. Always make sure to download apps from trusted sources.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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