How to diagnose color distortion on your MacBook Pro

If you've ever opened up your MacBook Pro to wake it from sleep only to discover distorted colors on your display that correct themselves after a few seconds, know that you're not alone. The issue seems to affect multiple model years of MacBook Pro, and it doesn't seem to matter whether your computer is refurbished or new.

While it's possible that this issue is the result of a software bug that people are encountering, you can run diagnostics on your MacBook Pro to determine if there is a specific hardware defect that's causing the problem. Here's how you do that.

How to run diagnostics to isolate hardware issues on your Mac

If your Mac is from June 2013 or later, this is how you can run diagnostics.

  1. Disconnect all external devices from your Mac except for the following when applicable: keyboard, mouse, display, Ethernet connection, and connection to AC power.
  2. Make sure your MacBook Pro is placed on a flat surface with good ventilation.
  3. Shut down your MacBook Pro.
  4. Immediately press the D key on your keyboard when you turn your Mac on again.
  5. Release the D key when asked to choose a language.
  6. Choose a language. The diagnostics will automatically take place.
  7. Note any reference codes that you're given after the diagnostics are complete.
  8. Choose to run the test again, get more information, restart, or shut down your Mac.
  9. Click Agree to send while in Recovery mode if you are connected to the internet and clicked Get started. This will send your reference codes and Mac's serial number to Apple.
  10. Follow the service and support instructions that Apple gives you.

On Macs from before June 2013, you'll use the Apple Hardware Test, which follows the same initial steps as the diagnostics run on newer Macs. After choosing your language, do the following:

  1. Click the right arrow.
  2. Click Test.
  3. Click Restart or Shut Down after reviewing your results.

Realize that if there is a hardware issue detected, you'll likely need to take your MacBook Pro in to be serviced by Apple or an authorized service provider.


If you have any other questions about troubleshooting color distortion on your MacBook Pro, let us know in the comments.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.