How to Fix Mac M1/M2 External Monitor Flicker

BenQ
2022/08/29

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Since the launch of M1-based Mac devices from Apple, users all over the world have reported instances of flicker when connecting to an external display. While not universal to all users, the issue happens enough to warrant a guide in case you encounter it and need help resolving said flicker. The same situation occurs with the newer M2 chip, meaning newer devices may also experience flicker when connected to external monitors.

We have a quick guide for you to check out and try. Based on our tests, you’re very likely to solve the flicker issue if you do run into it with your M1 or M2-based Mac device.

Do note that the flicker issue affects all monitor brands and isn’t specific to certain makes or models. Also, the exact cause remains unknown. 

List of Affected Mac Devices

Product

Chip

Product

MacBook Air

Chip

M1 or M2

Product

MacBook Pro

Chip

M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M2

Product

iMac

Chip

M1

Product

Mac mini

Chip

M1

Product

Mac Studio

Chip

M1 Max, or M1 Ultra

Product

iPad Air

Chip

M1

Product

iPad Pro

Chip

M1

As you can see, that’s pretty much every Apple device with M1 and M2. So what to do if you have an external monitor connected to one of these, and flicker appears? 

First 3 Steps

These are basic troubleshooting measures that apply to many situations. But they can always prove useful, so they’re worth a try.

  • Do a full restart of your Mac
  • Make sure your macOS has the latest updates
  • Connect using a different port

If these don’t help and flickering persists, it’s time to move to the main 5 ways we have for you to try. Of course, if one of these helps there’s no need to try subsequent methods. So, if method 2 resolves your external monitor flicker, you’re good and don’t need to bother with the other three unless flickering returns later.

1. Change Color Profile

A. Go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences. Click Displays Display Settings.

B. Select your BenQ monitor or other display, making sure the correct model is shown.

C. Change the color profile to Color LCD.

 

2. Change Refresh Rate (when applicable)

If your external monitor supports several refresh rates, then you can try this method as it’s possible the flicker is caused by a sync issue between internal Mac and external display refresh rates.

A. Go to the Apple menu, followed by System Preferences. Click Displays > Display Settings.

B. Select the monitor that’s connected to your Mac from the shown list

C. Change the refresh to 60Hz if it’s not already selected.

 

3. Turn off Auto Adjust Brightness and True Tone

A. Go to the Apple menu, followed by System Preferences. Click Displays > Display Settings

B. Click on Built-in Retina Display.

C. Uncheck Auto Adjust Brightness.

D. Uncheck True Tone.

 

4. Turn off Night Shift

A. Go to the Apple menu and then System Preferences. Click Displays> select Night Shift.

B. Selecting Off from the dropdown menu.

C. Uncheck Manual: Turn On Until Tomorrow.

 

5. Turn off Dark Mode

Likely the most basic of the 5 methods, but worth a try. Unless you really feel more comfortable using dark mode, we recommend turning it off if the previous four steps didn’t help.

A. Go to the Apple menu, then System Preferences. Click General.

B. Change Appearance to Light.

 

Additional Tips to Consider

1. Take a look at this simple flow chart, it can help you decide how to handle flickering if it happens. 

If your monitor starts flickering, close the application or task that you’re running or change the pattern of the screen. Then try the five methods we suggested. If one of them helps, you’re good to go. If the flickering does not resolve instantly, we recommend leaving your Mac device without using it for 30 minutes.

2. After you change settings as we recommend in the 5 methods, flicker can be addressed immediately if it ever happens again. So, your monitor might flicker occasionally after you change settings as suggested in this guide. Unlike with factory settings, you can now try any of the 5 methods, and if successful, flicker will resolve instantly.

3. If you’re using one of our award-winning DesignVue monitors and our Display Pilot software, make sure to uncheck ICC Sync as shown in the image below so that the color profile of your Mac is unpaired from the monitor and allows changes. This may affect the color management aspect of your workflow, but is a needed step if flicker is something that bothers you.

We hope this guide proves helpful should you encounter flickering with an external monitor when using a Mac M1 or M2 device. We also hope to work together with Apple to deliver a permanent solution to this issue, which affects all monitor makes and models. 

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