How to Fix a Dead Pixel

Got a screen with dead, stuck, or black pixels? Try these tips to fix it

A photograph of a factory control room depicting 26 computer monitors showing various data and information.

OJO Images/Getty Images

Dead pixels occur when a single pixel in a display stops lighting up, causing a persistent black dot on the screen. It's fairly difficult to fix a dead pixel, and often requires replacing the screen.

What Causes Dead Pixels?

The most common cause of dead pixels is a manufacturing defect. Undetectably small errors in assembly can result in a handful of dead pixels among the millions of functional ones. Dead pixels can also appear later on in the display's life, mostly as the result of physical damage.

Dead pixels occur when the transistor powering the pixel fails to supply power, causing the associated pixel to remain permanently black, never illuminating.

Dead Pixel or Stuck Pixel?

Dead pixels and stuck pixels can look almost the same, but there's an important distinction between them: a dead pixel is a pixel that won't turn on anymore, whereas a stuck pixel is a pixel that's permanently on.

A photograph depicting an example of a stuck pixel
Moehre1992 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Stuck pixels are caused by the opposite problem compared to dead pixels: rather than the pixel's transistor staying off, the transistor associated with a stuck pixel is constantly on, and can affect the entire pixel or just one of the three subpixels that make up the pixel.

Since the pixel is permanently on, a stuck pixel will typically appear as a very bright, persistent dot on the screen, and is either red, green, blue, or white. If your problematic pixel is dead, it will look like a small black rectangle.

Locating a Dead Pixel or Stuck Pixel

If you suspect you have a dead or stuck pixel but aren't sure, you can inspect the situation more closely with a number of software tools. These programs often display solid colors on the entire screen, allowing your eyes to more easily pick out pixels that aren't functioning properly. You can use the Dead Pixels Test or CheckPixels.com to locate potentially troublesome pixels.

How to Fix a Dead Pixel on Your Monitor, Smartphone, or Tablet

Replace the Screen

The most reliable way to fix a dead pixel is to replace the screen. Many manufacturers have warranties that cover dead pixels, so check your device's warranty to see if this situation applies to you.

Most display manufacturers require a minimum number of dead pixels before the screen can be replaced. For a display the size of a computer monitor, the minimum is typically four to eight dead pixels. Smaller displays have lower minimum requirements.

Unfortunately, a small number of dead pixels are expected, and one is rarely enough for replacement. At this time, only Dell and BenQ offer a screen replacement for just one dead pixel. You can examine the dead pixel policies of Acer, Asus, Apple, BenQ, Dell, LG, and Samsung, but the best source will always be your device's specific warranty documents.

Wait for the Pixel to Disappear

You can try waiting for the dead pixel to go away on its own. This has been known to happen, but no one can say when. You might have the dead pixel for the remainder of the device's life, or it might go away in a week. It's impossible to say.

Try a Stuck Pixel Treatment

You can try some of the stuck pixel fixes listed below. If your pixel responds to treatment, you won't need to attempt a more risky fix.

Pressure and Heat

There are riskier methods purported to fix a dead pixel, but you should proceed with caution. Both of these methods involve physically messing with your screen and are far from a sure thing.

These methods should only be used as a last-ditch effort to fix a dead pixel. There's a chance these methods will make the problem worse, and there's no guarantee that either one will fix the problem.

  • Pressure method: Wrap the tip of a blunt pencil in a soft cloth. With the display off, press the tip of the cloth-wrapped pencil against the dead pixel for five to ten seconds. You can also try applying pressure with your fingertip wrapped in cloth instead of a pencil. Try to avoid pushing on non-dead pixels, as the pressure could create new dead pixels.
  • Heat method: Soak a cloth in very hot water and wring it out until it is no longer dripping. Place the cloth in a plastic zip-top bag to prevent water from getting on your display. Hold the warmed and bagged cloth against the dead pixel for five to ten seconds.

Longer is not better for these methods! Don't push or heat for more than a few seconds at a time.

How to Fix a Stuck Pixel on Your Monitor, Smartphone, or Tablet

Stuck pixels are easier to repair than dead pixels; because the pixel's transistor can still supply power, it can often be "reset" to its proper state. There are two methods you can try.

These methods can also be tried with dead pixels, and there's no risk of damaging your screen in the attempt.

  • Turn the device off for 24 to 48 hours. This can allow the stuck pixel to drain its excess power and finally turn off.
  • Use a software tool to run the stuck pixel and its neighbors through multiple very bright colors. Both PixelHealer (Windows) or JScreenFix (Web) do this for free.