My Mac Display is Fuzzy After Sleep Mode

July 20, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Have you ever encountered a fuzzy, snowy output on your Mac’s monitor when waking the system from sleep? It can be a pretty frustrating issue, one that is commonly found on Mac Pros, Mac minis and iMacs rather than MacBooks, and the cause of the problem has yet to be confirmed.

All in all, it’s pretty frustrating, but various workaround have been found to alleviate the problem, from desktop shortcuts to switching over cables.

My Mac display is fuzzy!

The most surprising thing is that this problem exists at all; it has been knocking around various releases of OS X for several years, something that you might expect Apple to have dealt with by now.

As they haven’t, however, it’s up to you to fix the issue, which can be done by starting right here.

Tweaking the Apple Video Adaptor

One possible cause for this problem is an issue with how Apple’s drivers handle video output, or a fault with the display adaptor. The latter seems particularly likely given this fix, which involves calibrating your monitor via System Preferences; failing this, try changing the Colorsync profile.

Better still you might consider changing the chosen adaptor, although this will depend on your monitor.

For instance, if your monitor will accept HDMI and VGA input as well as DVI, you might try an adaptor that converts to these connections, and there is a school of thought that suggests the issue may be related to DVI.

Go Back to Sleep!

Another way around the problem is by forcing the display back to sleep by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+EJECT, then reawaken it once more to see if the snow issue has resolved.

Turning off the monitor, unplugging it, leaving it for a few moments and then switching it back on might also assist in resolving this issue, but the best workaround for this problem involves power management settings.

It seems that despite the extremely useful power use controls in Mac OS X, not every part of the system has read the script on exactly how they’re supposed to behave.

Fortunately, a workaround involving a screensaver can be used as a workaround, and this can be done by opening System Preferences > Energy Saver and configure the screensaver to activate before the display is set to sleep; for instance, you might notice that the display is set to sleep after 20 minutes, so set the screensaver to activate after15.

It’s a funny old quirk that perhaps Apple has dealt with in OS X Lion. If not, the steps listed here should see you right. Just be clear that the issue doesn’t concern your Mac alone – many users have been affected by this “display wakeup snow” issue, and many of them might have paid for an expensive system repair to resolve the issue.

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