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Dead pixel have you down? These tricks might revive it

Brandon Widder
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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)

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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)

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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.

Keep in mind that this method uses both HTLM5 and JavaScript, and may work with LCD or OLED screens. JScreenFix reports a success rate of greater than 60 percent when it comes to restoring stuck pixels, which sound like good odds when the alternative is paying for a new display.

Fix using Dead Pixel Detect And Fix (Android)

Despite the lackluster name, Dead Pixel Detect And Fix is quick way of locating and potentially repairing dead or stuck pixels. The free app is available for Android 2.2 and later, and features an interface that is both self-explanatory and easy to navigate. Like many apps and programs in our how-to guide, 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. It’s nothing fancy, but the constant on-off fluctuations may just fix the problem.

Step 1: Download and launch Dead Pixel Detect and Fix  Head to the Google Play Store or tap the Play Store icon on your Android device to access the store. Next, search for, download, and open the newly downloaded app by tapping the DPDF icon on your device (it’s a group of colored bars that resemble the “no signal” picture you’d expect to see on a TV set in the ’80s).

Step 2: Locate the questionable pixel — Tap the DETECT button, second to the top, to bring up the main app menu. From there, tap the Colors button in the top-left corner and individually cycle through the six preset colors (red, green, blue, white, black, and gray), or choose the Custom option at the top and pick a color from the resulting palette.

Remember, a dead or stuck pixel will stand out against every backdrop except for the color it’s stuck in. Continue cycling through the color screens until you find the pixel in question and make a mental note of its location.

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Step 3: Run the repair software — Return to the baby-blue welcome screen and tap the “FIX IT”  button, second from the bottom, to bring up the app’s main menu. Tap Fix it in the top-right corner to begin the default, 30-minute color-cycling process (the duration can be changed by clicking the Settings option in the main menu). Let the repair utility run for at least 20 minutes or more before finishing.

Step 4: Check the results — When finished, return to the welcome screen, tap the DETECT button and access the Colors panel again. Cycle through the same colors you used to locate the dead or stuck pixel in step 2 and check to see if the questionable pixel has returned to normal.

Fix using the pressure method (hands-on)

Applying pressure to your screen may seem slightly elementary — and futile — but it has been known to do the trick fixing dead or stuck pixels. However, it’s also a method that risks furthering the problem and creating more dead pixels. Apply the pressure method sparingly if possible, whether trying to fix a dead or stuck pixel on your 13-inch laptop screen, iPhone, or other device.

Step 1: Locate the questionable pixel — If you don’t know where the dead or stuck pixel is already, locate it and make a mental note of its location.

Step 2: Choose an object — There isn’t one specific object required for the pressure method. Select an object with a blunt, narrow end such as the tip of a pencil eraser, a Sharpie cap or a PDA stylus. You want to exert pressure on a limited area.

Step 3: Wrap the object — For further protection, wrap the narrow tip of the object from Step 1 in a damp, scratch-free cloth. Shy away from anything that could potentially damage or scratch your screen.

Step 4: Turn the screen off  Turn the screen off before continuing.

Step 5: Apply pressure  Gently apply pressure to the troublesome area for 5 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.

Step 6: Check the results  When finished, turn the screen back on and try to locate the dead or stuck pixel in he same manner as Step 1. Check to see if the questionable pixel has returned to normal, and if it hasn’t, choose an alternative method.