Once you notice a dead pixel, it’s hard to think of anything else — it’ll keep drawing your eye and driving you a little more crazy with each glance. While you could shell out big bucks in repairs, or replace the display entirely, there’s no harm in trying a few quick troubleshooting methods to see if you can snap the pixel back into shape without resorting to costly services and outside alternatives.
First, it’s important to note the difference between a dead pixel and a stuck pixel. Each individual pixel in an LCD screen is made up of three subpixels (red, green, and blue) that appear white when turned on and black when turned off. Together, the three subpixels generate all the colors of the spectrum.
A stuck pixel is generated when one or two of the subpixels remain on and the rest off — it will vary in appearance based on which subpixels are working properly — while a dead pixel appears when an entire pixel or set of subpixels remain off. Stuck pixels are generally easier to fix than dead pixels (and neither should be confused with “hot pixels” which is a temporary issue limited to photography or videography).
Here’s our quick guide on how to fix a dead (or stuck) pixel. We cannot guarantee the methods below will resurrect your pixel from the dead, but it’s worth a shot. Also, many manufacturers will replace your screen if you’re still under warranty and meet a certain set of requirements (terms vary by company), so be sure to check your warranty before digging in below.
Fix using PixelHealer (Windows)
PixelHealer is a bit of software from Aurelitec that’s designed to fix pixel problems, and it’s a free download for Windows, which means it ought to be your first stop. Frankly, there’s not much more that needs to be said about the software because the online instructions are simple and straightforward.
When you download and run PixelHealer, it will create a miniature color window with the command to “Start Flashing.” Cover the dead pixel area with the window, and use the command.
The window will start flashing multiple colors very quickly (epileptics, take care). Leave it on for half an hour or so, and then check the pixel again. Try this a few times to see if it works. This is the common method when attempting to resuscitate a pixel, and that’s actually a very apt word, because it’s not unlike defibrillation. You’re essentially trying to shock the pixel back to life, into a proper response that will have it acting as it should.
And like defibrillation, it’s a desperate move that may or may not work. It’s more likely to work on a stuck pixel that shows signs of life than a dead pixel which may stay unresponsive.
If you aren’t exactly sure where your pixel problem is, you can use the aptly-titled InjuredPixels. The freemium pixel detector allows you to blank out your screen in multiple colors to test the display. The stuck or dead pixels will then show up against the color wall depending on the damage, which makes them easy to identify.
Fix using JScreenFix (web-based, iOS)
JScreenFix is a web app that’s very similar to PixelHealer, except that you don’t need to download anything to use it. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of platforms, and it’s notably the best solution for iOS and Mac devices at the moment.
In practice, the steps are basically the same as PixelHealer. Launch the web app, drag the window over the damaged pixel, and run the app for a half hour. JScreenFix claims that most stuck pixels can be repaired in under 10 minutes, though, so you shouldn’t worry too much if you’re the impatient type. Try using it a couple times if the first run wasn’t successful.