How to fix MacBook Pro screen flickering?

By Connie | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, updated on July 22nd, 2021 |

When you are using your Mac as usual, an unprecedented situation happens - your MacBook screen flickering.

It's so awful, right? In fact, MacBook Pro screen flickering fullscreen is a common problem for most users. You can take steps to fix it. While this article supplies you with proven and efficient solutions to fix the MacBook Pro screen flickering issue.

Fix the MacBook Pro screen flickering issue

How to fix MacBook Pro screen flickering

Whether it is a MacBook with a retina screen or a non-retina screen, it may have flickering screen problems. The probable reasons are the incompatibilities or errors between the operating system and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

So, you should fix systemic issues and resetting GPU-related settings to make your flashing MacBook screen back to normal. Here are some solutions.

Restart your MacBook Pro

Since restarting your computer can fix some system-related issues, it is the prior solution that you can try. Sometimes, this easiest way can fix big trouble.

To restart your MacBook, click the Apple icon and select "Restart". Then, wait 60 seconds to let your Mac restart automatically or hit the "Restart" button at the pop-up to confirm.

However, if you can't see the image and words on your screen clearly, or your MacBook also freezes, you have to force restart your Mac.

Note: If a restart fails to fix your flashing and frozen Mac screen, you should try to fix the frozen Mac first and then deal with the flickering screen if it still exists.

Reset NVRAM / PRAM

Unfortunately, you fail to fix the flickering screen after restarting your MacBook, you can reset NVRAM / PRAM.

NVRAM is short for nonvolatile random-access memory. It stores some settings and system-related information, such as recent kernel panic information, start-up selection, display resolution, etc.

So, when the MacBook Pro screen flashes, resetting NVRAM / PRAM may work. But note that NVRAM on M1 Mac runs tests and resets if needed automatically during startup.

  • Shut down your MacBook Pro.
  • Reboot your computer and simultaneously press down the Option + Command + P + R key combination.
  • Release the keys until you hear the second startup sound. (If you have a T2-equipped MacBook, release the keys when seeing the Apple logo appear and disappear twice.)

After your MacBook restart, check if the flickering screen disappears.

Update your macOS

If the above ways still helps nothing, the next way you'd try is to update your macOS. In most cases, this screen flickering issue happens because the old OS cannot be compatible with the GPUs anymore . Or there are some bugs between them and should be fixed with the patches that come with the latest macOS.

Update macOS to fix Mac flickering screen

To update your macOS:

  • Back up your data with Time Machine to avoid data loss.
  • Click the Apple menu, then select System Preferences > Software Update.
  • Click Upgrade Now if there's a macOS update available.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to update your Mac.

Disable automatic graphics switching

If even updating macOS can't solve the flashing screen problem, your MacBook may have some GPU-related bugs or problems.

Usually, a MacBook Pro uses two graphics: dedicated graphics and integrated graphics. During your MacBook Pro working, they'll switch automatically to boost system operation efficiency. However, if the automatic graphics switching process goes wrong, it will cause screen display issues, like screen flickering.

Therefore, you can disable automatic graphics switching to fix the flickering screen issue.

  • Click the Apple icon, and then select System Preferences > Battery (Or select Energy Saver on macOS 10.15).
  • Uncheck the Automatic graphics switching option.
  • Uncheck Automatic graphics switching on Mac

Note: Disable automatic graphics switching will lead to your MacBook Pro only use dedicated graphics, which will shorten the computer battery life.

Disable True Tone

True Tone is a new technology on Mac devices of 2018 and later. It requires constant GPU to help it adjust the color of the screen display to fit the changing environment.

If there any error occurs during this process, your screen may flicker. So, you can try to turn off True Tone.

  • Open System Preferences and click Displays.
  • Uncheck True Tone on the window.

Uncheck True Tone on Mac to disable it

Reboot your MacBook in Safe Mode

Moreover, the flickering screen can also be caused by third-party software incompatibility. You can verify it by booting your MacBook in Safe Mode.

When booting in Safe Mode, your Mac will check the startup volume and only load essential programs and drivers. More importantly, the third-party software won't run in Safe Mode, which helps stabilize screen graphics and fix your flickering screen.

  • Shut down your MacBook and wait a moment.
  • Press down the Shift key when you reboot your computer.
  • Release the key when seeing the login window.

However, if you have an M1 Mac device, the way to boot in Safe Mode is different. After completely shutting down your Mac, hold down the power button until the startup disk options appear. Select your startup disk, and then press down the Shift key and select Continue.

Boot your Mac in Safe Mode

If your MacBook Pro can boot in Safe Mode without a flickering screen, you can restart your machine to check if the problem is fixed.

Ask Apple support for help

If none of the solutions above can help you fix the issue, your MacBook Pro may have hardware issues, like display screen damage. You can contact Apple support or go to a local Apple repair store to get help.

FAQs

Q: Why does my MacBook screen flicker?

A: This problem is usually caused by software incompatibilities, and errors between the macOS and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).

Q: Should I recover data before fixing the MacBook Pro flickering issue?

A: Yes. As some of the ways to fix the flickering screen may cause data loss, you'd better back up data on your Mac before fixing the issue. If your MacBook Pro screen is not only flashing but also freezing, you can recover data in macOS Recovery mode with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. This Mac data recovery software helps recover data from a Mac that even won't boot.

Q: Why is the MacBook screen flickering problem still unresolved after I have tried every solution?

A: The flickering screen issue may not only be caused by software problems. It can also result from screen resolution damage. You can go to a repair center to change a display.