Dead pixels are an unfortunate side effect of our modern, display-focused world, but they don’t have to be an ongoing problem. While you could pay someone to fix it for you or replace the offending screen entirely, there are some useful methods you can try to clear out dead pixels and return your screen to a near-new state. Here’s our guide on how to fix a dead pixel.
The first step in any intrepid pixel fixer’s journey is to learn 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. Its look will vary in appearance based on which subpixels are working properly. A dead pixel on the other hand, appears when an entire pixel or set of subpixels remain off. Stuck pixels are generally easier to fix than dead pixels.
Neither should be confused with “hot pixels,” which are a temporary issue limited to photography or videography.
Whether your display’s pixels are stuck or recently departed to the afterlife, though, there may be a way to save them. That said, while we can vouch for the validity of the methods listed below, they can not be guaranteed in every case, so your first port of call should be to check if your display is still within its warranty period. A brand new, entirely-free replacement is likely to be preferable to a fixed one, but if you can’t get that or simply want the satisfaction of knowing how to fix a dead pixel yourself, read on.
How to fix a dead pixel in Windows – PixelHealer
PixelHealer is an entirely free application from Aurelitec that’s designed to fix pixel problems. If your dead pixel display is attached to a Windows PC, this should be your first port of call. It’s compatible with many versions of Windows, from XP through Windows 10. If you’re still running XP though, dead pixels could be the least of your problems.
Once downloaded, PixelHealer will present you with a colored box window and a settings menu. Either click and drag or use the position and size options to place the color box over the area of dead pixel(s). Taking care not to look directly at the box (especially if you’re sensitive to flashing images), click the “Start Flashing” button.
The window will then start flashing multiple colors very quickly. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then check the pixel again. Try this a few times to see if it works. This is the most common method when attempting to resuscitate a pixel. You’re essentially trying to shock the pixel back to life, forcing a proper response that will have it acting as it should.
It’s more likely to work on a stuck pixel that shows signs of life than a dead pixel which may stay unresponsive, but there’s a chance it can fix both, so give this method a try regardless of how your wounded pixel is behaving.
If you aren’t exactly sure where your pixel problem is, you can use the aptly-titled InjuredPixels application. 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.
If PixelCleaner doesn’t work, try out the iOS fix below (it also works on Windows) or skip to the bottom of this piece and try the more hands-on “pressure method.”
How to fix a dead pixel on iOS – JScreenFix
JScreenFix is very similar to PixelHealer, but as a web-application, you don’t need to download anything to use it. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of platforms, including iOS, so if you’re looking to find out how to fix a dead pixel on Apple’s operating system(s), this tool could be your salvation.
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.
How to fix a dead pixel on Android – Detect and Fix
With a straightforward name, Dead Pixel Detect And Fix (DPDF) is a straightforward method for locating and potentially repairing dead or stuck pixels. The free app is available for Android 2.3 and later, and features an interface that is both self-explanatory and easy to navigate. Like many apps and programs in our guide on how to fix a dead pixel, DPDF lets you cycle through various colors to locate and potentially fix a dead or stuck pixel using an extended series of six flashing screens.
To download DPDF, head to the Google Play Store or tap the “Play Store” icon on your Android device to access it. Search for “Dead Pixel Detect and Fix” and then download it as you would any other app. Once installed, open it up by tapping the DPDF icon on your device.
Tap the screen to bring up the main app menu and then choose the “Colors” button in the top-left corner and individually cycle through the six presets: Red, green, blue, white, black, and gray. You can also choose the “Custom” option at the top and pick a color from the resulting palette (no need to use color theory, though).
Doing either will allow you to learn where a stuck or dead pixel on your display is, which as we know when it comes to fixing dead pixels, is half the battle.
When you’re ready, return to the baby-blue welcome screen and tap the screen once again to bring up the app’s main menu. Choose “Fix It” to begin the default, 30-minute color-cycling process. If you want to alter the duration yourself, use the “Settings” menu. Let the repair utility run for at least 20 minutes before finishing.
When it’s completed, return to the welcome screen and access the menu as before and once again choose the “Colors” option. Cycle through the same colors you used to locate the dead or stuck pixel previously and check to see if it has returned to normal.
Fixing a dead pixel with the pressure method
If none of the above methods have worked for you and you’re about to start searching “how to fix a dead pixel” once again, hold fire. We have one more method you can try, but be warned, it is much more ‘hands-on’ than the last few.
Applying pressure to your screen may seem a little aggressive — especially if it’s not a touch screen — but it has been known to do the trick. However, it’s also a method that risks furthering the problem and creating more dead pixels, so be careful.
With that in mind, whether trying to fix a dead or stuck pixel on your laptop-screen or smartphone display, apply pressure gently and steadily — no sudden stabs. If in doubt, use less pressure.
Begin as before by locating the dead pixel using some of the methods described above and make a mental note of its location.
Next, you’ll need to select the right tool for the job. You’re going to use it to apply pressure to the screen, so it must be blunt, but with a narrow edge. A corner of a pencil eraser would be ideal, though the cap of a pen or a stylus, if you have one handy, would also work well.
To protect against any scrapes or potential further damage, wrap the narrow tip of your chosen object in a damp (but not wet) scratch-free cloth.
Making sure to turn the screen off first, begin gently applying pressure to the troublesome area for five to 10 seconds using the wrapped tip. Do so several times, but try to apply pressure solely to the area where the dead or stuck pixel is located. The goal here is to adjust the pixel in the panel substrate back into proper alignment. For this reason, it may be more effective with stuck pixels than dead pixels.
When finished, turn the screen back on and try to locate the dead or stuck pixel in the same manner as you did previously. Check to see if the questionable pixel has returned to normal. If it hasn’t, and you haven’t tried the above software methods yet, we’d recommended giving them a go.
If none have produced the results you wanted, it may be time to replace the display or at least learn to live with it in the mean time. While not much consolation, at least you now know how to fix a dead pixel in the future, should the irritating issue arise once again.