MacBook screen flicker: Solutions you can try

Why is my MacBook screen glitching? 

Not everyone reported these problems, but there are certainly enough people experiencing this for it to get mentioned. 

Screen glitching lines appear on retina and non-retina screens, with Mac users noting that it can affect them when using Terminal or when graphics are enabled or disabled. In some cases, it's so bad that it makes looking at the screen impossible. 

You may be wondering if MacBook screen glitching is a problem unique to older Macs. M1 Macs are powerful and can help handle even the most demanding tasks. Unfortunately, upgrading to a newer machine is not a solution for now. When working on M1 MacBook, you may encounter the same headache — screen lines flickering.

It seems that the issue stems from compatibility problems between the new operating system and the graphics processing unit. On M1 Macs, this usually happens randomly, but it may be because of connecting to an external display or working with some software. 


Subsequent macOS updates may have solved this problem, although a workaround or troubleshooting fix is often necessary even then. Hopefully, this problem will be eliminated in flagship M2 Macs that Apple announced at WWDC in June 2022. 

For now, though, the problem prevails. So, let's look at how to solve it and get Mac screens working smoothly without flickering.

How to fix Mac screen flickering?

There are several potential solutions to the MacBook screen glitching problem. In turn, it is worth trying each one, then seeing whether the screen flickering issue is still present or if one of the fixes has solved it, as each Mac may have a different reaction to this hardware and software interactivity challenge. 

1. Restart your Mac

  1. Go to the Apple Menu > Restart. 
  2. Or Shut Down, then give it a few minutes before starting it up again. 

2. Update your macOS 

  1. Go to the Mac App Store or Apple Menu > System Settings > Software Update.
  2. If a macOS update is available — which means you aren't running the latest version (which could contain the automatic updates needed to solve this problem) — then a new macOS will be waiting for you to download it.
  3. Back up your data beforehand, either to an external hard drive, third-party cloud storage, or iCloud.
  4. Now follow the steps to update the macOS and once your Mac restarts, see whether the screen flickering issue is still present under the same conditions as before. 

Assuming neither of the above solutions has solved this, you can try a few other things. 

3. Run maintenance scripts

Not sure how to perform it? You can do that easily using a handy app — CleanMyMac X. It is an all-in-one Mac utility offering a variety of tools, including those helping improve maintenance, freeing up RAM, and performing other tweaks to tackle the screen glitching problem.

Maintenance Scripts is a feature that fixes various system glitches and inconsistencies. After you utilize this service, your Mac should run a bit smoother. And, hopefully, Mac screen glitching will disappear.

To use the feature:

  1. Open the app.
  2. Go to the Maintenance module.
  3. Choose Run Maintenance Scripts.
  4. Click Run.
Maintenance Scripts in CleanMyMac X

The free version of this app is available here.

Once complete, restart your Mac for good measure and see whether your MacBook screen flickering has stopped.

Implementing a combination of fixes, such as running maintenance scripts and switching it off and on again (or updating the macOS), should quickly solve this annoying problem.

 4. Reset the PRAM (or NVRAM): 

For an Intel-based Mac:

  1. Shut your Mac down (not reset, a full shutdown). 
  2. As soon as you start your Mac again, press the following keys for around 20 seconds: Option, Command, P, and R (simultaneously). 
  3. Your Mac will restart with the PRAM (or NVRAM) reset, which should solve the problem. If not, here are a couple more things worth trying. 

A Mac with Apple silicon will reset the PRAM automatically.

It could be caused by caches or out-of-date system logs, and there are solutions for both of these. 

5. Adjust Energy Saver settings

If you use MacBook Pro, MacBook screen blinking is sometimes caused by Energy Saver working improperly. If you enable "Automatic graphics switching" in Energy Saver, your Mac will alternate between 2 different graphics chips. But things often break. 

Open your System Settings > Battery > Options.
Uncheck the box that says "Automatic graphic switching."

Note

This option is only available on MacBook Pro models that have two graphics systems.

Otherwise, you will not see this option.

System Preferences - Battery Options

Restart your computer and see if the MacBook screen flashing stopped.

6. Enter a safe mode

Safe mode disables a number of services and puts others in a low-key mode. This affects screen parameters as well. Try entering a safe mode to see if your screen graphics stabilized. 

To start up your Intel-based Mac in safe mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Restart your Mac and press the Shift key.
  3. Release the Shift key after the login window shows up.

To start up your Mac with Apple silicon in safe mode:

  1. Shut down your Mac and wait 10 seconds.
  2. Press and hold the power button until the startup options window shows up.
  3. Select a startup disk.
  4. Press the Shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode.
  5. Release the Shift key.

    By now, you should see if your Mac screen glitching continues.

    7. Disable True Tone (for 2018 Macs and newer)

    The True Tone technology makes your screen colors look more natural. But sometimes, its color management goes off track. 

    System Preferences - Displays settings

    • To disable True Tone, open your System Settings.
    • Click on Displays.
    • Now, uncheck the True Tone box.

    Has your MacBook screen blinking stopped?

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is my MacBook screen flashing?

    This issue is sometimes software-related. Open your Activity Monitor and look for unknown processes going on. Also, you can use a hidden software detector in CleanMyMac X.

    I've tried all these steps, but nothing worked.

    One more idea to try is to change your screen resolution. Go to Displays in System Settings and play around with Resolution settings. Try switching off the default option that's shown there.

    If it's a hardware issue, how can I fix it?

    Maybe it's the screen connector at the hinge of your MacBook that is off. In this case, you will have to take your Mac to the service. Apple has a free replacement program for this issue.

    I hope your screen is acting calm and peaceful now. Thanks for reading.

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    Your Mac. As good as new.