Many users report that their laptop screen is flickering on Windows 10, which makes it difficult to perform any activities on the computer, especially gaming.
Users often blame and replace their monitor or notebook just to end up with another flickering screen. However, it’s rarely the case of a malfunctioning hardware part. Instead, you should shift your attention to the software components.
What Causes Screen Flickering (Windows 10)?
When your desktop or laptop screen starts to flash on Windows 10, it’s usually a problem with the display driver or an incompatible software application. You can perform a quick test by inspecting Task Manager and checking if the taskbar is flickering.
Check Task Manager flickering
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start Task Manager
- If your entire screen flashes, including Task Manager, you should check your display driver
- Otherwise, if the monitor flickers except for Task Manager, you should check the incompatible apps installed on your computer
No matter what the problem is, you can get your monitor working normally again by following the simple instructions below.
How to Fix a Laptop Screen Flashing/Flickering
Before starting to troubleshoot your display issues, it’s a good idea to create a system restore point. This way, you can seamlessly undo changes and roll back Windows 10 to apply various solutions from this list.
1. Start Windows 10 in Safe Mode
If you can’t use your computer at all, make sure to boot Windows 10 in Safe Mode, in order to terminate all services, processes, and drivers which may be causing display problems. Here’s what you need to do:
- Shut down your computer
- Turn on your PC and interrupt the boot sequence three times to launch Advanced Startup mode
- When you see the blue screen with multiple options, select Troubleshoot
- Go to Advanced options > Startup Settings
- Click Restart
- Press F4 to boot Windows in Safe Mode
2. Run a clean boot
If Safe Mode doesn’t work, then you can perform a clean boot on Windows 10, in order to diagnose and fix advanced system settings that might be causing laptop screen flashing issues. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Press the Win key, search for System Configuration, and open this program
- Switch to the Services tab
- Disable Hide all Microsoft services and click Disable All
- Exit the app
- Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start Task Manager
- Go to the Startup section
- For every application with the Enabled status, select it and click Disable
- Restart your computer in clean boot state
- Check for screen flickering issues now
3. Reinstall your display adapter
It’s possible that your graphics adapter is not properly installed on your computer. In that case, you can quickly reinstall it from Device Manager, without having to install any third-party software programs.
However, for this plan to work, you need to have an additional display adapter. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager
- Expand the Display adapters group
- If the graphics adapter has a yellow exclamation mark, right-click it and select Uninstall device
- Don’t worry if your monitor goes all black. Restart your computer since Windows will automatically reinstall the missing adapter
4. Update your graphics driver
A more likely scenario that’s causing laptop screen flickering and flashing on Windows 10 involves an outdated graphics driver. In this case, you just have to update the driver to the latest version.
- Press Win key + R, type devmgmt.msc, and press Enter to open Device Manager
- Select your graphics adapter, right-click it, and choose Update driver
- Pick Search automatically for drivers
- If the online search doesn’t return anything, select Search for updated drivers on Windows Update
- Proceed with the on-screen instructions
- Restart your computer and inspect results
Unfortunately, Microsoft often fails to find newer drivers with the help of Windows Update. In that case, you can visit the website of your driver’s manufacturer to find and download a newer version, then install it on your PC.
However, it’s risky because you might accidentally get the wrong driver and cause more display issues. A safer solution is to use a driver update tool. It detects your drivers and installs newer versions automatically. Plus, you can use it to keep all your drivers in check, not just the display adapter.
5. Roll back your graphics driver
If you installed an incompatible display driver, you must immediately remove it to fix screen flickering problems on Windows 10. However, for this solution to work, you must have a previous graphics driver version on your PC. Here’s how to easily check:
- Right-click the Start button and go to Device Manager
- Select your graphics device, right-click its entry, and select Properties
- Choose the Driver tab
- Click Roll Back Driver and proceed with the step-by-step instructions. If this button is greyed out, you can’t make the rollback because there’s no previous driver on your hard disk
6. Run Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
If your laptop screen keeps flashing although Task Manager remains perfectly still, there might be a problem with compatible applications running on your computer. For instance, if you have old programs that don’t officially support Windows 10, they might be the ones giving you a hard time.
It can be tricky to identify old and obsolete apps. However, you can turn to Program Compatibility Troubleshooter for help. It’s a simple tool built into Windows 10, which finds and fixes compatibility problems with older apps. Here’s how to use it to your advantage:
- Right-click the Start button and go to Settings
- Select Troubleshoot on the left side
- Click Additional Troubleshooters
- At Find and fix other problems, locate and select Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
- Click Run the troubleshooter
- The wizard displays a list of all installed programs. Select an old one, click Next, and follow the step-by-step instructions. You might have to do this several times for multiple apps
- After the troubleshooter does its job, check if your screen is still flickering
7. Update your programs
It’s essential to keep your Windows applications updated to the latest version. Otherwise, your screen might start flickering due to display problems. When it comes to Microsoft Store apps, it’s really easy.
How to update Microsoft Store apps:
- Click the Start button, search for Microsoft Store, and press Enter to open this app
- Open the More menu from the top-right corner
- Go to Downloads and Updates
- On the upper-right corner, click Get updates
When it comes to applications obtained from anywhere else except Microsoft Store, you have to manually update them one at a time. Alternatively, you can turn to a third-party tool that updates all your software programs at once, such as CCleaner (has a software update component), SUMo, or IObit Software Updater.
8. Uninstall old applications
If running programs in compatibility mode for older Windows doesn’t do the trick, you should remove them from your computer. Here’s how:
- Right-click the Start button and select Apps and Features
- Locate your application in the list, select it, and click Uninstall
- Click Uninstall again to confirm
- Follow the removal instructions
- If your laptop screen is still flashing, uninstall more incompatible programs
9. Reinstall programs
When it comes to new applications, it’s a good idea to reinstall them in order to fix any issues that might be causing screen flickering on Windows 10. Just proceed with the uninstall steps from the previous solution and then download and install each program from its official website. It’s a simple way to fix laptop screen flashing on Windows 10.
10. Check for system updates
Windows 10 should have round-the-clock access to system updates so that you can benefit from the newest features, improvements, hotfixes, and security patches. If your operating system doesn’t check for updates automatically, here’s how to deploy the task manually:
- Press the Windows key, type check for updates, and press Enter
- Click Check for updates and wait
- If there are any pending updates, click Download
- Patiently wait while Windows performs the update. It might take a while, especially if you haven’t done this for a long time or after a fresh reinstall. Your computer might reboot several times
If your operating system returns errors and refuses to update, use the Windows Update Troubleshooter.
11. Run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter
If there’s something wrong with your display adapter, you can run an internal troubleshooter to resolve common problems. You can find it in Settings > Additional troubleshooters. However, if the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter is missing from your computer, you can launch it from the Run app. Here’s how:
- Right-click the Start button and click Run
msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnosticand press Enter
- Click Next and follow the given instructions
- If the troubleshooter finds a solution, click Apply this fix
- Reboot your computer and check for screen flickering
12. Run CHKDSK
CHKDSK (Check Disk) is a troubleshooting utility built into Windows, which you can use to scan your hard drive for errors and fix any bad sectors. If your screen flickering issues were caused by HDD corruption, then CHKDSK is the way to go about it. Here’s what you need to do:
- Save all ongoing projects and terminate all applications
- Press Win key + R, type cmd, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to launch Command Prompt with administrator rights
- Click Yes if prompted by UAC (User Account Control)
- If Windows is installed on the default C: drive, run
chkdsk c: /f. Else, make sure to replace
c:with the correct drive letter
- Type y and hit Enter when asked to confirm scheduling the tool at the next system boot
- Exit Command Prompt and restart your PC
- CHKDSK will check and fix disk errors before Windows boot
- Once it’s over and Windows starts, check if your screen still flickers
13. Check your monitor cables
If you have a Windows 10 desktop, shift attention to the cable that connects your monitor to your computer unit. It doesn’t matter if it’s HDMI, VGA, or something else. Unplug the cable from both ends and carefully connect it again.
And, if you have at least one more identical port, try using it, just in case the original port is malfunctioning. If it doesn’t work, you might have to replace the cable.
14. Clean your hardware
Too much dust accumulated in your hardware components can be damaging to your computer. For example, if the graphics card is dusty, it could cause your screen to flicker on Windows 10.
However, you should be able to resolve this problem by taking your computer unit or laptop apart, in order to carefully dust off all components. Pay special attention to the GPU card and cooler while doing so.
The complexity of this task depends on your computer’s make and model. But don’t dive into it without consulting your manufacturer’s website or at least a YouTube tutorial.
15. Remove and reseat your graphics card
Removing and reseating your GPU card means taking it out of its socket and then putting it back in. It’s a simple way to give your graphics adapter a jolt and fix laptop flashing problems on Windows 10 computers.
Just be careful when plugging the graphics card back in. Do it firmly but without applying force. Then, start your operating system to see if the monitor problem was resolved.
16. Change your monitor refresh rate
Monitor overlocking helps improve the refresh rate to have a smoother experience on your computer, especially when it comes to playing fast-paced games like shooters or FPS. However, if the refresh rate settings are incorrect, you can end up with screen flickering on Windows 10.
To fix this problem, you just have to decrease your monitor’s refresh rate to a setting that’s comfortable for you and which doesn’t cause any display problems. Here’s how you can make it happen:
- Right-click an empty space on the desktop and go to Display settings
- Click Advanced display settings
- If you have two or more monitors, make sure to pick the primary display from the list
- Open the Refresh rate menu and select a value
- Inspect the new settings to decide if you want to Keep changes or Revert to the previous refresh rate, depending on whether or not your screen keeps flickering
17. Uninstall system updates
Some Windows updates cause computer problems and should be immediately removed. This could also be the reason why your laptop screen keeps flashing. Here’s what you need to do:
- Click the Start button, search for Control Panel, and open this app
- Select Programs and Features
- Click View installed updates on the left side
- Press the Installed On column to sort the updates by date of installation (newest first)
- Double-click the first update in the list and select Uninstall
- Click Yes to confirm its removal
- Restart your computer and check for screen flickering problems now
18. Run a malware scan
If your computer was recently under attack, it’s possible that a malware agent has infiltrated your operating system and disabled essential files that Windows 10 needs to work properly. It’s rare, but it’s possible that your graphics drivers are affected, too.
So it’s a good idea to regularly run a malware scan and keep your computer’s security in check. Unless you have a third-party Internet security solution installed, here’s how you can use Windows Defender:
- Press the Win key, search for Windows Security, and open this app
- Go to Virus & threat protection
- Click Scan options
- Select Quick scan and click Scan now
- Don’t use your computer while Windows is looking for malware. If it doesn’t find anything, select Windows Defender Offline scan and click Scan now
- Proceed with the given instructions to remove any infected files
- Restart your PC and inspect results
19. Disable the Windows Desktop Manager service
Windows Desktop Manager (dwm.exe) is a process in charge of Windows effects, such as live taskbar thumbnails and transparent windows. It’s enabled by default on Windows 10.
However, many users claim that Windows Desktop Manager causes screen flickering on their Windows 10 computers, and terminating its process resolved the problem. Here’s what you need to do.
How to stop the dwm.exe service:
- Right-click the Windows 10 taskbar and select Task Manager (or press Ctrl + Shift + Esc)
- Select the Processes tab
- Scroll down to the the Windows processes group
- Find and select Desktop Window Manager Session Manager
- Click End task
- Exit Task Manager
If the Windows Desktop Manager process gets restarted automatically, then you have to disable this option using the Services tool.
How to disable the dwm.exe autostart:
- Click the Start button, search for Services, and open this app
- Find and double-click Desktop Window Manager Session Manager to view its properties
- Set Startup type to Disabled
- If the Service status says Running, click the Stop button
- Click Apply to common changes
- You should also find and disable the Problem Reports and Solution Control Panel service
- Check for screen flickering issues now
20. Use System Restore
You can roll back Windows 10 to a restore point that was created before your computer’s screen started to act strange and flicker. It’s a simple way to erase all modifications at the software level. However, it also means that your programs and games installed after the checkpoint will disappear from your PC, so you have to set them up again.
How to roll back Windows 10:
- Make sure to sign in to Windows 10 with administrator rights
- Search for Control Panel and open this tool
- Go to Recovery
- Click Open System Restore
- If there are multiple checkpoints available, click Show more restore points to get a better view. Plus, you can click Scan for affected programs to discover what applications you will have to reinstall
- Select a restore point, click Next, and follow the steps
- After your computer reboots, check for screen flickering issues
21. Reset Windows 10
Regrettably, System Restore sometimes fails to work. If you have exhausted all your options up until this point and still can’t get rid of laptop screen flashing, it’s time to perform a factory reset on Windows 10. Only your applications will be gone, so your personal files will remain intact.
How to reset Windows 10:
- Click the Start button, search for Settings, and open this app
- Go to Update & Security
- Select Recovery and click Get started
- When prompted with two options, pick Keep my files
- Proceed with the on-screen instructions until your computer is reset
Screen flashing can be avoided on Windows 10
To recap, screen flickering issues on Windows 10 are usually caused by display problems. You can narrow down the search by inspecting Task Manager to see if it’s also flashing.
For instance, you should start Windows 10 in Safe Mode or run a clean boot, reinstall your display adapter, update or roll back your graphics driver, run Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, update, uninstall or reinstall programs, check for system updates, as well as run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter.
It’s also a good idea to scan your hard drive for errors with the help of CHKDSK. Furthermore, you should inspect your monitor cables, clean your hardware, remove and reseat your graphics card, lower your monitor refresh rate, uninstall system updates, perform a malware scan, or disable the Windows Desktop Manager service.
If all fails, you can try to roll back Windows 10 to a previous restore point or perform a factory reset. But you might also have to consider replacing your monitor.
Which solution solved the screen flashing problem on your computer? Tell us all about it in our comments section below.