How to Fix a Dead Pixel

Try these potential solutions before replacing your screen

A dead pixel is a picture element that stops lighting up, causing a persistent black dot on the screen. If you suspect you have one, but you aren't sure, investigate more closely with tools like the Dead Pixels Test or CheckPixels.com. These programs often display solid colors on the entire screen, allowing your eyes to more easily pick out pixels that aren't functioning properly. Dead pixels can't be fixed in most cases, but you can sometimes revive those pixels. We have a few solutions for you to try before you send your device out for repairs.

Illustration of a colorful computer monitor image with some dead pixels on it
Lifewire / Kaley McKean

Dead pixels are not the same as stuck pixels. These pixels look almost the same, but there's an important distinction. A dead pixel won't turn on, whereas a stuck pixel is permanently on. Since it's permanently on, it typically appears as a bright, persistent dot on the screen, and is either red, green, blue, or white. If a problematic pixel is dead, it should look like a small black rectangle.

Causes of Dead Pixels

A dead pixel occurs when the transistor that powers it fails to supply power, causing it to remain permanently black, never illuminating. 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 a display's life, mostly as the result of physical damage.

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

Here are a few things you can try to fix a dead pixel on your device's display:

  1. Wait for the dead pixel to disappear. It may go away on its own, but there's no telling how long it will take. You might have the dead pixel for the remainder of the device's life, or it might go away in a week.

  2. Try JScreenFix. This free web app fixes many stuck pixels in less than 10 minutes. There's no software to download or install, and it's suitable for LCD and OLED screens.

    This likely won't work if the pixels are dead instead of stuck, but there's no harm in trying.

  3. Apply the pressure method. This is a riskier way of treating a dead pixel, so proceed with caution. 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 apply pressure with your fingertip wrapped in cloth instead of a pencil. Don't push on functioning pixels, as the pressure could create new dead ones.

  4. Use the heat method. Soak a cloth in very hot water and wring it out until it's no longer dripping. Place the cloth in a plastic zip-top bag to prevent water from getting on the display. Hold the hot bagged cloth against the dead pixel for five to ten seconds.

    The pressure and heat methods should only be used as a last-ditch effort to fix a dead pixel. There's a chance it will make the problem worse, and there's no guarantee it will fix the problem.

  5. 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. You can examine the dead pixel policies of Acer, Apple, Dell, LG, and Samsung, but the best source is always the device's specific warranty documents.