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Nicholas Chen Level 1 Level 1

Hi everyone


I have been experiencing weird display artifacts in Application Switcher/Dashboard after I disconnect from an external monitor. I started having this problem after I upgraded my MacBook Pro (mid-2010, Intel Core i5 with NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M 256 MB) from Snow Leopard to Lion. It might be an issue with Lion or it might just be an issue with my laptop.


The best way to describe this "weirdness" would be through a video:


The problem is reproducible. It happens after I disconnect from my external monitor. I notice this problem with both my monitors (Dell 20 inch and Dell 24 inch).


The problem used to be worse. The weird effect used to happen when I was using dual-monitor mode. When a window straddles both monitors, half of the window (the half on my MacBook Pro) exhibits the weird display issue. Fortunately, I managed to fix it by using deleting the Display Profiles for the external monitors (found in /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/Displays).


Needless to say this problem is very annoying. It also makes using the Dashboard impossible since the "dark" widgets makes it hard to read (especially in Dictionary). Any help would be appreciated.






MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.2)
Reply by Paul Bordeaux1 on Mar 28, 2012 2:49 PM Helpful
FWIW, I've been dealing with this by opening display prefs and picking another profile. Usually puts things back for a while, but I've noticed some serious glitches in the Display Pref Panel. Some profiles help, some go back to the dark color glitch mess, some help then glitch out the next time I pick them. System details: Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3  Model Name:MacBook Pro  Model Identifier:MacBookPro5,5  Processor Name:Intel Core 2 Duo  Processor Speed:2.26 GHz  Number of Processors:1  Total Number of Cores:2  L2 Cache:3 MB  Memory:8 GB  Bus Speed:1.07 GHz  Boot ROM Version:MBP55.00AC.B03   Chipset Model:NVIDIA GeForce 9400M  Type:GPU  Bus:PCI  VRAM (Total):256 MB  Vendor:NVIDIA (0x10de)  Device ID:0x0863  Revision ID:0x00b1  ROM Revision:3427  Displays:Color LCD:  Resolution:1280 x 800  Pixel Depth:32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)  Main Display:Yes  Mirror:Off  Online:Yes  Built-In:YesCinema HD:  Resolution:1920 x 1200  Pixel Depth:32-Bit Color (ARGB8888)  Display Serial Number:2A82342KXMN   Mirror:Off  Online:Yes  Rotation:Supported

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  • Nicholas Chen Level 1 Level 1

    I realized that it might be a hassle going to YouTube to watch the video so I have included some screenshots of the problem directly. The first image below shows the weird effect when I invoke Dashboard. A video of this problem is available from


    The second image shows the weird effect when a window straddles both monitors. I thought that I had solved that issue by deleting my color profiles for my monitors but the problem is back. I just noticed it this evening as I was using my computer. A video of this problem is available from


    Any help would be appreciated.


    Screen Shot 2011-12-04 at 10.41.30 PM.png

    Screen Shot 2011-12-04 at 10.41.50 PM.png




  • harrybailey Level 1 Level 1

    Although I can't resolve the issue (even clearing the display profiles didn't help) I can add weight to it. An example screen of my version of this issue on a MBP with Lion. No problem when I used Snow Leopard...


    Weird display artifacts after..._ Apple Support Communities.jpg


    see the weird pixelation?


    I also get either a dark dock, or a dock with icons of color distortion. Only solution I have come across is to restart my mac, regularly, which is a pain.

  • CyberBrain Level 1 Level 1

    I notices exactly the same issue with pixel distortion when I drag a window between my Macbook pro screen and my external screen. It doesn't happen always, but say 50-60% of the times. It looks like the font anti-aliasing doesn't work anymore.


    But in addition, sometimes when I disconnect my external screen, the icons on my Finder Application Switcher (cmd+tab) are completely screwed up. They still work though, but I have to log out and back in to get the colors back to normal. I can't find any logic behind it, e.g. no specific application causing it. I have recreated my color profiles multiple times, but that doesn't solve it.


    I haven't had this 'problems' with OSX Snow Leopard, it suddenly started when I updated to OSX Lion.




    Looking forward for an update :-)

  • AlxGG Level 1 Level 1

    Have exactly the same problem. It innot a hardware related issue since you can even take a screenshot of it. Have alook for yourself!

    Screen Shot 2011-12-12 at 15.20.53.png

  • AcePair Level 1 Level 1

    Same issue on older macbook here

  • AcePair Level 1 Level 1

    Any solutions yet?

  • AlxGG Level 1 Level 1

    An update: the issue always appears when i switch from one external screen to another (working place/home). Nothing like that ever happened in Snow Leopard. Appeared only after OS X upgrade to Lion! Strongly believe it is LION RELATED ISSUE!

  • SneakAttack Level 1 Level 1

    Great writeup! I used your example for my call to AppleCare Support. Same problem here and so far Apple Support doesn't have an answer.


    Per Apple Support: "I just got like 4 calls about this yesterday. I know the engineers are aware and working on it."


    After speaking with his supervisor, the conclusion is that it's most likely a hardware problem. This jives with what a co-worker of mine has gone through recently with the same vintage MBP. He too was having this issue and had his mobo replaced. Hasn't had it happen since the replacement.

  • AlxGG Level 1 Level 1

    SneakAttack wrote:



    After speaking with his supervisor, the conclusion is that it's most likely a hardware problem. [...]

    Find it hard to believe that since allthe problems started the next day after OS X upgrade to Lion. It may behardware compatibility issue which will go away with new mobo BUT it is mucheasier to get a proper driver (do not see a lot of sense in a major motherboardreplacement in late 2009 MacBook Pro)

  • anisiforov Level 1 Level 1

    Exactly the same problem here on MBP 13" Late 2010 with latest Lion 10.7.2 and Samsung 24" external Monitor.

    And yes, this is a software related problem, for sure!


    Could be related to

  • Nicholas Chen Level 1 Level 1

    I did two things and that seems to mitigate the problem (not fully solved yet, unfortunately). I did both things together but I am not sure if both are necessary – perhaps you only need to perform one of them.


    • Performed a deep clean of the caches. I used Lion Cache Cleaner but you can use any other tool.
    • Installed the MacBook Pro Video Update from


    Performing those steps seem to have solved the weird dashboard display and the window straddling problem. However, the Application Switcher (command-tab) problems still occurs.


    Two other observations that I have:


    1. I think that there is some relation with this problem and the dynamic switching between the integrated Intel and NVIDIA graphics. I notice (by checking using gfxStatusCard application) that as long as I am running on the Intel graphics the problem does not happen. Once I start using an application (for me that would be Keynote, Path Finder or NetNewsWire) that switches to the NVIDIA graphics card the problem happens.
    2. Because I am on a MacBook Pro mid-2010, I think my problem might be related to the NVIDIA graphics problem that plagued the early version of Lion. You can find out more at this ARS Technica article. I suspect that the issue was never fully addressed by the later updates to Lion.
    1. anisiforov Level 1 Level 1

      @Nicholas Chen

      Thank you for sharing!


      As i'm having the same issue on a 13" Modell with only one graphic conroller built in (geforce 320m), we should assume, that it is not correlated with the use of different graphic controller.


      BUT, i have tested your second sudjestion and cleaned the cache. to clean the cache fully i had to reboot, so i am not sure to 100% at the moment. but until now i do not see any artifacts after 3x disconecting the external monitor. So i think, the cache might be the problem.


      so for all who want to try this out:

      delete the ~/Library/Caches folder on your System. To delete all Files you will need to first move it to another location and reboot. The  ~/Library folder is an hidden folder so, you will need to activate showing hidden folders in your Finder or do it in the Terminal. 

    2. anisiforov Level 1 Level 1

      Today i've got the same artifacts again. So i'm sorry for confusing, cache cleaning does not help.

      Now i also get the same artifacts on the external display (not only internal display).


      Apple, please help!

    3. ertra Level 1 Level 1

      I have the same problems,

      Macbook pro 13, nvidia .. using external monitor


      I dont know, if its HW or SW problem, but it started after I upgraded to 10.7.2


      I cleaned all catches, but it did not helped.


      it happends randomly, after reboot, it is usually ok for sme time, but than i starts again.


      please, is there any fix?

      or how can I know know if its SW or HW problem?



      tomas zeman

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