How to Fix Hot, Dead, or Stuck Pixels on Your Screen

updated Dec 18, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

I love tech, but I don’t know the first thing about the pixels on my screen — well, until now. One of my pixels is dead. But I learned all about how to locate and fix defective pixels, including hot pixels (always on), dead pixels (always off), and stuck pixels (defective sub-pixels), and I’m going to share my knowledge with you. Good news: If done carefully, you can fix your defective pixel yourself, and might save you a lot of time and worries.

If you notice a little permanent bright or dark spot on your screen — before you run your laptop into repair and yourself into some debt — you should try to see whether you can fix it yourself!

Is Your Pixel Dead or Just Stuck?

Is it just a stuck pixel or is it in fact dead? A stuck pixel will appear in any of the colors that its three subpixels (red, green and blue) can form (good ol’ RGB and cyan, magenta and yellow), depending on their functionality and brightness.

In a dead pixel all subpixels are permanently off, which will make the pixel appear black. This may result from a broken transistor; in rare cases, however, even a black pixel may just be stuck. So if you’re seeing a colored or white pixel, your chances are pretty good, and if it’s black, there is still hope.

These programs or Web apps all involve flashing colors or bright images on your screen to locate and hopefully fix the stuck pixel. Don’t ask me how this magic voodoo works; just install it.

Another Way to Fix That Stuck Pixel

If those programs and web apps don’t help, Gary Huestis, the owner and director of digital forensics company Powerhouse Forensics has some advice. Here’s what he recommends doing:

  1. Turn off the monitor.
  2. Run diagnostics on your display. Both mobile devices and computers tend to have a built-in diagnostics tool in the settings or boot menu. That will run through the flashing color tests like the sites above, but since it’s tailored to your device, it may work better.
  3. Otherwise, “gently apply pressure to the screen on or around the stuck pixel to see if it changes or corrects the problem,” says Heustis. “If that doesn’t work, you can gently press around the outside border of the display, running your finger along each side to see if that fixes or changes the stuck pixel in a way that helps you figure out why it is stuck.”

Hopefully, at the end of that process, the pixel will be fixed, or at least you’ll know what to tell the company when you call for service.