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. 

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.

Maintenance Scripts is a feature that fixes various system glitches and inconsistencies. Automatically, with just a few clicks. After you use 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. 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.

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.

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. Remove junk files and downloads

Sometimes, MacBook Pro screen flickering may be due to insufficient storage. It can generally make your Mac more sluggish, and screen glitching will be one of the signs. To try and fix the issue, it is a good idea to free up some space. 

First, go to the Downloads folder and delete everything you do not need. Now, uninstall unnecessary apps and files. The easiest way to do it is to use a built-in optimization tool: 

  1. From the main Apple menu, select System Settings > General > Storage. 
  2. Check Recommendations under the colored graph and turn on the options you find helpful.
  3. Make your way through the categories below Recommendations. Click i next to each of them, select files for removal, and click Delete. 
System Preferences - Storage

You may have noticed that you cannot thin out System Data. In some cases, it may take more than 100 GB, and freeing up that space may make a notable difference. Fortunately, there is a tool that can help you out — CleanMyMac X and its System Junk module. It identifies and safely removes junk files. By the way, it will also delete corrupted cache files, and they may cause screen flickering. 

  1. Open CleanMyMac X (free download here). 
  2. Go to System Junk. 
  3. Click Scan. 
  4. Now, you can Review Details or click Clean right away.

Of course, you can opt for manual cleanup if you don't want to use a third-party tool. If that is the case, check out this handy guide on clearing System Data.

7. Enter 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.

    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. 

    System Preferences - Displays settings

    • To disable True Tone, open your System Settings.
    • Click on Displays.
    • Now, turn off True Tone.

    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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