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Mavericks Screen Flicker Fix

At some point during my software updates and installs last week, I managed to get the video system on my MacBook Pro Mid-2014  to “get wonky”.   That is a technical term, in case you are wondering.

“get wonky” – the point when something stops working correctly but is still almost functional.   AKA “FUBAR Light”.

The issue only appeared on my external monitors on the displayport connections.   The HDMI external monitor never had the flicker or “ants” issue.

[cvg-video videoId=’25’ width=’800′ height=’600′ mode=’playlist’ /]

After a couple of quick chat sessions with Apple Support the problem was resolved.   I’m not sure what the source of the problem was but it was definitely software related.  The software tests had passed and the problem did not exists for the first 48 hours that I owned the laptop.

I am fairly certain an SMC reset on the MacBook fixed the issue, but the 3 steps that were performed to get there are listed below.  Hopefully this helps with your Mavericks video issues including both flicker (screen goes black as if turned off then back on) and “ants”, which apparently is  Mac-community term for video pixelation artifacts that appear briefly as horizontal or vertical bars that quickly appear and disappear at random intervals.   If you squint a bit while looking at your screen I guess it does sort of look like ants marching down the screen.  Drinking a fifth of vodka before doing the squinty-eye technical assessment helps as well.

Here are the steps I used to fix my Mavericks video issue on the MacBook Pro:

Reset Pram

Shut down the laptop.

Power on the laptop.

IMMEDIATELY press and hold the following keys, you must do this before the first gray screen appears:

Option + Command (⌘) + P + R

Reset SMC

On the  MacBook Pro Mid-2014 running Mavericks you reset the SMC by holding down these keys ON THE LAPTOP (not a USB keyboard) simultaneously for approximately 5 seconds:

Left-Shift + Control + Opt + Power Button

Login / Full Shutdown

When I powered on the laptop after doing these steps the video issue appeared to be WORSE.

Log in to your main admin user account, then shut down.

On reboot my problem was fixed.

Hopefully yours will be too.


3 thoughts on “Mavericks Screen Flicker Fix

  1. Gahhh… the problem is back after 5 days! Apple is hinting at hardware failure on the TB/minidisplay ports. 🙁

    1. PRAM / SMC reset fixed the problem again (for now). Seems like I am dealing with an intermittent hardware issue. My new MacBook Pro may be going out for a 5-day repair ALREADY. WTF. My luck with technology sucks.

  2. Months later…

    I replaced my MacBook Pro as advised. Got the new unit home, rearranged my desk a bit, and the problem went away. Or so I thought.

    A couple of days ago I got my new Evodesk sit/stand desk. Why is that important? Because I re-arranged the 3 HP ZR2440w monitors I’ve been using all along. A couple of days ago I set my monitors all in landscape mode making my desktop 3x 1920 wide. Then all hell broke loose. Just like before. Put one monitor back in portrait mode, problem goes away.

    Turns out the issue was NOT the original hardware. This appears to be an app / OSX issue. I’m digging in with Apple. For now I need to leave one monitor in potrait mode as it is EXTREMELY difficult to work on a monitor that turns off every 3 seconds!

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