Have you ever noticed that a pixel – a little dot on your computer’s LCD monitor – is staying a single color all of the time? You have a stuck pixel. Luckily, stuck pixels aren’t always permanent.
Stuck and dead pixels are hardware problems. They’re often caused by manufacturing flaws – pixels aren’t supposed to get stuck or die over time.
Image Credit: Alexi Kostibas on Flickr
Stuck vs. Dead Pixels
Stuck pixels are different from dead pixels. A stuck pixel is a single color – red, green, or blue – all of the time. A dead pixel is black instead.
While it’s often possible to “unstick” a stuck pixel, it’s much less likely that a dead pixel will be fixed. While a dead pixel may simply be stuck at black, it’s possible that the pixel isn’t receiving power at all.
A faulty pixel displaying the color white all of the time is known as a “hot pixel.”
Image Credit: Brandon Shigeta on Flickr
Locating Stuck Pixels
Do you have any dead pixels? It can be hard to tell. The easiest way to notice is by making the screen a single color. To easily do so, use the Dead Pixels Test website – click the links on the page to open a new browser window with the color and press F11 to make it take up your whole screen. Try several of the links to ensure you notice the pixel, no matter what color it’s stuck at.
Of course, a speck on your screen may in fact be a piece of dirt or dust – run your finger over it (gently!) to make sure. if it doesn’t move, that’s a stuck (or dead) pixel.
Image Credit: ~dgies on Flickr
Fixing a Stuck Pixel
So you’ve got a stuck pixel – what now? There are some purported ways to fix a stuck pixel, although there’s nothing definitive. This is the computer monitor equivalent of banging on the side of your television (no, don’t hit your computer monitor!). Whether any of these methods will work depends on what exactly is wrong with the pixel, so there are no guarantees.
- Wait. Some stuck pixels will unstick themselves after a period of time – this can take hours, days, weeks, or even years.
- Use software. Yes, this is a hardware problem – so how will software fix it? There are software programs that rapidly change colors, cycling through a variety of colors on your screen. If a color-cycling window is placed in the area of the stuck pixel, the program is constantly asking the stuck pixel to change colors. Some people have reported this can help unstick a stuck pixel.
Try UndeadPixel (UDPixel) if you’re looking for a program that does this. It has a built-in stuck pixel locator that cycles colors on your screen. Its main tool will give you a little flashing dot that you can drag and drop anywhere on your screen – drag it over the dead pixel and let it run for at least several hours.
- Press on the pixel. Some people report that pressing and rubbing on the pixel can help reset it. If you’re pressing and rubbing, try using something that won’t damage your screen, like a microfiber cloth – and don’t press too hard! Some people also report that tapping on the screen with a blunt, narrow object like an eraser nub or the cap of a sharpie (it may be a good idea to wrap it in something like a microfiber cloth, too) can help. Again, be careful – don’t apply too much pressure or use anything sharp; you could easily damage your monitor and end up wishing your only problem was a stuck pixel.
Unfortunately, a single faulty pixel may not be enough to get service under warranty – even if you’ve just recently purchased your computer. Different manufacturers have different policies for dealing with stuck or dead pixels. Some manufacturers will replace a monitor that has even a single faulty pixel, while most manufacturers will require a minimum number of faulty pixels before offering warranty service.
You may need to have at least five stuck pixels on your screen before your manufacturer will replace it under warranty. For more details, consult the warranty information that came with your laptop or computer monitor or contact the manufacturer.
Have you ever dealt with a stuck pixel? If so, did any of these tricks actually help fix it?
Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.
- Published 12/11/12