How to Fix a Pesky Stuck Pixel

Want a hot tip that might just save you boxing up a display and tripping it back to the store? This morning the LCD I'd ordered to complement my new game PC arrived, at which point I initiated the ritual of assembly, tearing off clingy plastic pieces and covers of crinkly styrofoam wrap. A few minutes later, stand assembled and cables properly seated, I toggled the power switch and watched my new homebrew rig crunch through its gray-black syntactic startup routines.

And then I spotted it, slightly north of center and off to the right: a stuck pixel.

One tiny little blip of light, a stubborn wink of red in a sea of black, and for me, a total deal-breaker. When you realize you've got one, it's like a kick to the gut, accompanied by a twinge of shame at caring so much about something so physically inconsequential.

Except it's not, or at least not if you're as visually obsessive as me. I can't see past stuck pixels. They're like gouges in a Monet, but worse. Paintings (generally speaking) don't move. Images on LCDs do, and that motion draws even more attention to those tiny mocking points of unwavering brightness. Try playing games like Doom 3 with one, the levels where you're hunkered down in the dark behind plasteel and piping somewhere. You'll notice it then, and once noticed, it's like a scab that your eyes (like your fingers) can't leave alone.

In the past, I'd just box up the LCD (or laptop -- it's happened to me on at least two MacBooks) and prep it for return. This time, I was slightly more adventurous -- I hit the web and ended up perusing wikiHow's "How to Fix a Stuck Pixel on an LCD Monitor." I'd heard about "massaging" a stuck pixel to get it to work, but it sounded like voodoo sorcery to me.

Until now. After 10 minutes running a java applet called JScreenFix and another couple of seconds performing an on-off screen massage (the "pressure method") my screen is astonishingly (I'm easily impressed) stuck-pixel-free.

I'm pretty sure JScreenFix was a bust, but I mention it for posterity just in case. All I know is, I put my finger behind a soft cloth and pressed down moderately on the afflicted area while powering the screen off and on, and presto-zappo, goodbye little red dot of death.

So there you have it. Not voodoo-sorcery after all. Just some patience, a little hands-on fiddling, and the screen's good as new.

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