My screen is dimming and brightening quickly... (not ambient light sensor)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ElphabaPotter, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. ElphabaPotter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2009
    I just got a brand new MBP (6,2 and 10.6.4) but it's not my first. My previous MBP had the ambient light sensor that I could turn on and off via the system preferences (as mentioned in this thread) so suffice it to say, I know what it looks like when the screen dims and brightens. (I loved hovering my hands over the speakers. It was like magic to my PC friends.)

    Now, I'm having an issue with my new MBP. I have my preferences set to adjust the brightness based on ambient light. And since the light sensor has moved to the microphone, it still does that just fine.

    My problem is that I'm experiencing random flashes of the screen where it dims quite a bit rapidly but only for a short moment before returning to the original brightness. This occurs randomly in different light settings but most importantly when the light around me hasn't changed at all. And it has occured about once or twice a day for the last few days. I've even tried pressing my thumb over the light sensor really fast to see if it was the light sensor but try that and you'll see that it's actually really slow.

    My other problem is that my screen is randomly resizing/zooming in on things. (I suspect this may be me doing some trackpad trick I'm unaware of but I've tried everything I can think of to replicate it and nothing works) Anyways, say I'm on my desktop and mousing over (with one finger) to open a folder or file. All of a sudden, all of the folders resize drastically. Or I'm in Firefox and a site loads. Then all of a sudden (*insert poltergeist*) the website zooms in or out. (like when you press cmd + or -) And it's always zooming in, never out.

    Does anyone know what is going on with this? I don't know if the two things are related or if all of this is just really really stupid user error.

    Is my laptop possessed?

    Thanks in advance,
    A slightly terrified MBP user...
  2. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    mine does that too, every time I go to the login screen.

    havn't investigated yet.
  3. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    I'm having that same problem. Screen dims then brightens really fast... goes almost completely dark then normal. It's not ambient light sensor, I know what ambient light sensor is. I first noticed it a couple weeks ago, seems to be happening more often.

    Anyone know whats going on here? Late '09 MBP, 15 ", matte screen. Thank you.
  4. devilstrider macrumors 6502a

    May 12, 2010
  5. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    Late '09 MBP 15", matte screen, 10.6.4, 2.66 GHz intel Core 2 duo. I have both the 9400 and 9600 NVidia chips. I use the 9400 chip almost exclusively so that's the only chip I've noticed it on. Answer you question?
  6. ElphabaPotter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 23, 2009
    I figured out the issue with the resizing of icons and web pages. I was inadvertently doing the "pinch" maneuver on the trackpad and zooming in and out.

    The screen doesn't do those rapid dims quite as frequently as it did when I originally posted this but it does still do this with enough frequency to keep me googling answers.
  7. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    I ran the "short" hardware test and it said everything was fine. Can anyone tell me if the "short" hardware test would test the video cards (or anything that could be related to this screen flashing black problem)? Thank you.

    To the OP, when I first got my MBP I used to accidentally pinch with two fingers on the trackpad, felt a little foolish when I figured it out.

    I have the same computer... hmmm. :cool:

    post for my signature with my computer info.

    ran both a "short" and "long" hardware test. Said everything was fine. Still no answers. Anyone else noticed this problem?
  8. lostforwords macrumors newbie

    Sep 8, 2010
    I had this happen with the laptop I'm on now. It's not a Mac though, so I don't know if it could be the same thing. Anyway, I got told it was the laptop switching between the battery power and the power coming from the charging cable. Does your laptop charge okay, and have you tried it unplugged to see if it still does it? I have no idea if it's the same thing but it sounds like what happened to me. :D

    The other reasons I got were that whatever powers the screen was damaged, or the graphics card. I don't know how to check those though, and I don't even know how to run any tests on a Mac because I don't have one (yet). :p

    I'm not really good with the hardware side of computers so that's all I've got, but I hope it's nothing serious. :)
  9. DJ-R macrumors regular


    Feb 17, 2010
    Thank you for making this thread!

    I've been wanting to post this issue and I have no idea how to describe it. I'll suspect people will tell me, it's my setting and all kind of bulls****.

    This is a bug on MacBook Pro 2010 series.

    The dim is so quick and fast like a flick. Dim Flickering.

    It is really random and it occur a few times every week.

    I believe, it's the laptop is about to dim display because of idle and somehow the trackpad was oversensitive it lighten it up again.
  10. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    This happens to me.

    This is what I thought mine was, especially since I'm in class most of the day and I thought maybe a bump to the table or something caused it to brighten when it was about to dim. Then I found that that wasn't the case. This has been happening the past few weeks, it didn't happen when I bought it. This, coupled with the fact that external displays have been all weird lately for me, has convinced me to do a full restore when I get my external hdd comes back from service.
  11. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    I thought about the screen dimming and coming back, but it has happened when I am actively browsing internet or whatever. I don't believe it has anything to do with switching from battery to a/c power as I've had it on a/c consistently when it happened... will be hard to test on battery as it happens so infrequently, as I mentioned before it has happened a handful of times in the past couple of weeks.

    The "flash of darkness" is far too dark to be related to dimming... it looks like the monitor has lost all power for a split-second, then comes back to life. My laptop has never taken a fall, a hit, or anything at all... I treat it like it's "my precious".

    Someone mentioned it seems to be a problem with the 2010 MBP's but mine is a late '09, built in February 2010 (perhaps that's it).

    Anyone else notice this? I have been to Apple support forums and there are definitely more people with this problem. Can anyone tell me how the hardware test works and if it would pick up on something like this? Thanks

    Same story here, only started a couple weeks ago... makes me think it's a software thing but could be a part failing after a certain period of time. which model/year/etc do you have?
  12. dslade09 macrumors member

    Aug 21, 2010
    Its happen to me too. I think it has to do with it adjusting to ambient lighting. Ive notices if I move as it automatically dims it gets all bright because it detects the brighter light behind me and gets brighter. But if I stay in front of it for 2 seconds after it dims it stays dim. At least for me if I leave right before it dims it gets brighter.
  13. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    My problem is definitely not ambient lighting or dimming of any sort. It looks like the monitor has lost power for a split-second (it goes completely dark).
  14. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    Mine's a mid 2010 model, an i7. I had a late 08 model that flickered, but I got it fixed. It was an issue with the integrated graphics.
  15. jeffzoom91 macrumors regular


    Jul 25, 2005
    I just got my 15" late 2008 mbp replaced with this new i5 because of the flickering issues (3 logic boards in 3 months), and I just started noticing this temporary dimming issue. Honestly, I haven't found a way to trigger it, if it gets worse, or interrupts my work I'd consider taking it in, but other than that I don't want to spent hours and hours in the apple store like last time over what was a $2k computer (they didn't replace it with the $2k model though:confused:) I really don't want this to be the second MBP I have to have continuously repaired until they replace it.

    With that said, like with the my last mbp, I'll be buying apple care again. The only silver lining is, if this does progress to the point my last mbp did, I might end up with the next gen mbp again for free. Which doesn't say much for apple's reliability these days. My first aluminum iMac was rock solid for three years, and then the FW800 port went out.

    It's sad, because other than these little niggling issues, it's staggering to think just how much better this machine is versus any laptop I've ever used.
  16. joei macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2009

    I have the same thing happening on my mid 09 and mid 10, don't think it is limited to the mid 2010 and it has not happened to me while on AC, only battery.
    I have the same problem on both the mid 09 and mid 10.
  17. crobar2k macrumors member

    Feb 9, 2010
    Just wanted to give an update. I have not noticed the problem in at least 6 weeks.
  18. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    It just happened to me. And I've done a restore. Now questioning if this is a problem with my light sensor.
  19. Jottle macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2003
    My mbp does something similar, though not identical. It's probably a logic board issue. My ambient light sensor is off. But randomly and every few minutes, the screen will dim by one notch and then go back to its original brightness. This happens extremely quickly (less than a second). So it's a bit hard to notice at first. Doesn't matter if I'm on battery power or using the 9400 or 9600 graphics card. It happens on every brightness setting. I have to take it into apple eventually. Anyone else have this? Note: my screen isn't going black, rather, it's dimming one notch and going back to the original brightness almost instantly. Not quite a flicker, but more of a very fast dim.
  20. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    Hey sorry to resurrect a dead thread, I'm just trying to see if anyone either found a solution to this, or had Apple technical support fix it and know the problem.
  21. jvmxtra macrumors 65816


    Sep 21, 2010
    Except for trying to save power or brightness of the screen bothers you, I can't think of good reason to dim down the screen.

    Does anyone truly keep their laptop longer than 5 years?( I would think 3 to 4 year is max).
  22. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    Pretty sure you misunderstood the thread....
  23. cnymike, Jun 24, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2011

    cnymike macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2004
    Just bought a MBP 13" 2.4GHz refurb from Apple and have experienced the rapid screen dim and return to brightness three time in the last hour while sitting here in Panera doing some work. I'm using battery power and am not hooked up to AC. Can't say whether this also happens with AC power.

    The lighting is constant brightness where I am sitting and I am absolutely positive it is not my hand or shadow or anything else interfering with the ambient light sensor. I am also quite sure it is not the screen beginning to dim then aborting that process. I have seen it happen with my hands on the table, nothing touching the computer at all and then all of a sudden it dims and returns to brightness within a second or two.

    I'll be calling Apple about this right away and I'm not too happy about it.

    System: MacOS 10.6.8
    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro7,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
  24. Jottle macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2003
    Old thread. i'm finally taking my mbp in for this issue tomorrow. did you ever get this fixed?
  25. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2012
    Spaceball One
    I dont know about OP. Try hooking up to AC and making sure power is not an issue. Double check system prefs. Also, you can remove the bottom of the laptop and make sure the LDVS cable is properly seated. (Use ifixit for a guide). If done right, apple shouldnt be able to tell it was taken apart.

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