MacBook screen flickering: Solutions you can try

Not everyone reported problems with MacBook screen glitching, but there are certainly enough people experiencing this for it to get mentioned. In this article, we'll explain why it happens and how to fix Mac screen flickering.

Why is my Mac screen flickering?

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. Unfortunately, upgrading to a newer machine is not a solution for now. When working on a MacBook with Apple silicon, you may encounter the same headache — screen lines flickering.

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

Here are some other causes behind the MacBook screen flickering problem: 

  • Software glitches affecting your screen
  • Hardware-related reasons (damage due to dropping either your Mac or something sharp on the screen or spilling liquid on your computer)
  • Power supply fluctuations

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.

Easy tip

Before proceeding with the fixes, make sure that you restart your Mac first. You may be surprised how many issues this easy trick can solve.

1. Run maintenance scripts

The first solution to try is to run some maintenance. macOS does perform some tasks on its own, but it may not be enough to ensure that your Mac functions properly and smoothly. It is when you may want to do it yourself. There is a manual way to do it, but it involves running Terminal commands. This one is effective but requires some level of tech knowledge to avoid system failure. 

There is an alternative, though. You can maintain your Mac 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.

Here's how to run maintenance scripts using CleanMyMac X:

  1. Open the app.
  2. Go to the Maintenance module.
  3. Select Run Maintenance Scripts.
  4. Click Run.

Free download of this app is available here.

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

2. Update your macOS 

  1. Go to the Mac App Store or Apple Menu > System Settings > General > 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. 
System Preferences - Software Update

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

3. 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.

4. Run Apple Diagnostics 

In some instances, you may be experiencing the issue with MacBook screen flickering due to a hardware failure. To find out if that's the case, run Apple Diagnostics. The steps differ for Apple silicon and Intel-based Macs. However, preparation is the same: 

  1. Shut down your Mac. 
  2. Disconnect all external devices but mouse, display, keyboard, and Ethernet connection. 

Now, follow these steps. 

For an Intel-based Mac:

  1. Start your Mac and immediately press and hold D.
  2. Do not release it until the progress bar appears and choose the language.

For a Mac with Apple silicon:

  1. Turn on your Mac, but do not release the power button. 
  2. When you see the Startup options window, release the power button.
  3. Press Command-D.

When the test is completed, it will show reference codes. Also, you may see service and support options. Just make sure you're connected to the internet and press Command-G.

Now you can either restart or shut your Mac down by choosing the needed action from the Apple menu.

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. 

  1. Open your System Settings > Battery > Options.
  2. Deselect the box that says "Automatic graphic switching."
  3. Restart your computer and see if the MacBook screen flashing stopped.

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

Otherwise, you will not see this option.

6. Delete duplicate color profiles

Apple users discuss on forums that duplicate color profiles may cause the nasty Mac screen flickering problem. So, it is worth trying to delete these profiles as one way to fix the issue. 

Here's how to do it: 

  1. Go to System Settings > Displays. 
  2. Click the pop-up next to Color profile > Customize (Note: you may not see this option on some Macs).
  3. If there are two identical modes named Color LCD, delete one of them by selecting it and clicking the "-" button.
  4. Now, click Done, set Color LCD, and quit System Settings.
System Preferences - Displays settings

7. Check for loose connections

If your MacBook screen flickers when you use it with an external display or any other accessory, try checking for loose connections. Just make sure that all cables and accessories are securely plugged in. You can also try unplugging and replugging them.

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

      8. 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. 

      1. To disable True Tone, open your System Settings.
      2. Click Displays.
      3. Now, turn off True Tone.

      Alternatively, click the Control Center icon in the menu bar > Display and disable True Tone from there. Check if it helped. 

      Has your MacBook screen blinking stopped? If you've tried all these steps, but it hasn't, one more idea to try is to change your screen resolution. Go to Displays in System Settings > Displays and play around with Resolution settings. Try switching off the default option that's shown there.

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

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      Your Mac. As good as new.