Screen flickering: What causes it and how to fix it on your laptop

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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Laptop battery drains after Sleep Mode

If you’ve been using your computer and suddenly you notice there’s an element of the screen flickering, there are solutions to fixing the issue.

In Windows 10, the problem is usually caused by either of these two things:

  • An incompatible app
  • A display driver

In order to know for sure that the screen flickering issue is caused by an app or display driver, you need to check if your Task Manager also flickers.

This will determine whether you need to update the application, or update the display driver altogether. Here are four tried solutions to fix the screen flickering issue.

What can I do if my laptop’s screen is flickering?

  1. Check Task Manager to fix screen flickering
  2. Update incompatible apps
  3. Update display driver
  4. Disable Windows Desktop Manager

Solution 1: Check Task Manager to fix screen flickering

Do the following:

  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC at the same time to open the Task Manager. You can also right click Start button then select Task Manager. Either of these open it.

If the Task Manager isn’t flickering, then the problem could probably be caused by an app. On the other hand, if the Task Manager is flickering, a display driver could be the cause.

Can’t open Task Manager? Don’t worry, we’ve got the right solution for you.

Solution 2: Update incompatible apps

There are three applications that have been known to cause screen flickering on Windows 10:

  1. Norton AV
  2. iCloud
  3. IDT Audio

Updating the incompatible application (or getting in touch with the manufacturer of the specific app to get an update) usually fixes the problem.

If the problem can be isolated on a certain individual app, it’s easy. This, of course, isn’t always the case so we can’t say with certainty whether it’s more of a general problem or just a rogue outdated app misbehaving.

Did you know that the majority of Windows 10 users have outdated drivers? Be a step ahead using this guide.

Solution 3: Update display driver

In order to do this, you need to start your computer on Safe Mode, then uninstall your current display adapter, and finally check for driver updates.

How to boot in Safe Mode:

Safe mode starts up your computer with limited files and drivers but Windows will still run. To know whether you’re on Safe mode, you’ll see the words at the corners of your screen.

If the screen flickering issue persists, check whether it occurs while your computer is in Safe mode.

There are two versions:

  • Safe mode
  • Safe mode with Networking

The two are similar, though the latter includes network drivers and other services necessary to access the web and other computers in the same network. Follow these steps to start your computer in Safe Mode:

  1. Click on Start button
  2. Select Settings – the Settings box will open up
  3. Click Update & Security
  4. Select Recovery from the left pane
  5. Go to Advanced startupadvanced startup windows 10
  6. Click Restart now
  7. Select Troubleshoot from the choose an option screen, then click Advanced options
  8. Go to Startup Settings and click Restart
  9. Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  10. Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode


enable safe mode PC

If you want to know how to add Safe Mode to your boot menu in Windows 10, check out this step-by-step guide. On the other hand, if you’re having trouble opening the Setting app once you’re in Safe Mode, take a look at this article to solve the issue.

A quicker way to get into Safe Mode is to restart your computer then do the following:

  • From the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings>Restart
  • Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  • Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode

Safe mode is not working on Windows 10? Don’t panic, this guide will help you get past the booting problems.

If the screen flickering problem isn’t there while in Safe mode, then your default settings and basic drivers are not contributing to the issue. Once you start your computer in safe mode, do the following:

  1. Right click Start
  2. Select Device Manager
  3. Expand Display adapters
  4. Right click the listed adapter
  5. Select Uninstall device
  6. Choose the Delete the driver software for this device box
  7. Select Uninstall
  8. Reboot your computer

Windows can’t automatically find and download new drivers? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Once your computer reboots, click Start, choose Settings, then select Update & Security>Windows Update>Check for updates.

Having trouble updating your Windows 10? Check out this guide that will help you solve them in no time.

If you have many display adapters, you need to disable the added display adapter by doing the following:

  • Right click the added adapter from Device Manager
  • Select Disable
  • Click Yes
  • Turn off your computer
  • Disconnect installation or recovery media (if using it)
  • Turn on your computer

If this doesn’t fix the screen flickering, do the following:

  • Restart in Safe Mode
  • Re-enable the added display adapter
  • Disable the other adapter

Once you’re through and the screen flickering is sorted, exit safe mode so you can get your computer back to normal mode.

Did you know that the majority of Windows 10 users have outdated drivers? Be a step ahead using this guide.

Want the latest GPU drivers? Bookmark this page and always stay updated with the latest and greatest.

How to exit Safe Mode:

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Run
  • Type msconfighow to make emulators run faster on windows pc
  • A pop up will open
  • Go to the Boot tab
  • Deselect or uncheck Safe Boot option box
  • Restart your computer

Need additional info about msconfig and how it works? Find out more right here.

Solution 4: Disable Windows Desktop Manager

Follow these steps to perform this action:

  • Click Start
  • Under the Search field type services.msc
  • If prompted to provide a password or confirmation, click Continue
  • Scroll down and locate Desktop Window Manager Session Manager
  • Right click on it
  • Select Stop from the menu
  • Right click on the entry again
  • Select Properties 
  • Under General Tab, change the start up type to Disabled
  • Click Ok or press Enter

We’d love to hear from you whether any of these solutions worked. Let us know by dropping your response in the comments section below along with any other question you may have.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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  • Hello,

    I think that depends on what type of software is it. If it is a third-party software like a game or a visual-design software – no. But best of all, do a backup of your system before that.