Blurry screen resolution (one pixel out) on OS X?

Because I just had a minor panic thinking that the screen on my MacBook was completely screwed, and I think the solution needs a bit of Googlejuice:

The symptom: Your screen shows patches or bands of alternate in-focus and out-of-focus pixels, as if it was set to a resolution one or two pixels out from the correct one. Moving your mouse pointer up and down the screen causes the screen to shift up or down by one pixel (and the blurriness to move to another region). Restarting doesn’t fix it, although the problem only reappears part way through logging in, and it doesn’t affect any other users on the system.

The solution: Press Alt+Apple+8.

The explanation: You accidentally turned on OS X’s ‘zoom’ accessibility feature. It seems that if you’ve never used this before, or you have your preferences set up in just the wrong way, the default zoom level is “just a couple of pixels in from full screen” – enough to make things go nasty and anti-aliased without it being obvious that it’s zooming in on anything.

…and no, this is not your cue to crack jokes about things that give you blurry eyesight and their possible correlation to being a mac owner.

28 Responses to “Blurry screen resolution (one pixel out) on OS X?”

  1. icabod says:

    Eurgh. That sounds worse than accidentally turning on some kind of Windows accessibility option by tapping “shift” too many times in quick succession. At least Windows just pops up an annoying “did you mean to do that” box.

  2. matt says:

    Ah yes… StickyKeys (oh dear, there go the blurry eyesight references again). A couple of weeks ago at work somebody’s computer gave out a loud buzz, just out of the blue, and I recognised it straight away… I gave them an accusing stare and said “you just held down shift for too long, didn’t you”.

  3. Eq says:

    Pressing Start+U on Windows XP makes “Narrator” start reading out the captions of everything you click on. When I first did this by accident I was rather startled.

  4. Mimo says:

    thanks :-)

  5. dave g says:

    Thanks very much for the advice – I was just about to book my macbook into the apple store..! Its so good to know that a)the screen isn’t screwed and b)my eyes aren’t (so) screwed.

  6. Uwe says:

    Wow thanks,
    i thought theres something wrong with my eyes ;-) .. drove me mad.

  7. Chris says:

    You just saved me a heart attack!, seeing as I’m on a design course, I rely on my picture quality, and when it when blurred I thought my imac was finished. THANKS!! ^^

  8. Ross says:

    Woo!! Thanks, what an amazingly LAME feature….there was me thinking it was caused by a game crashing and causing some weird X86 configuration problem.

  9. CHRIS AND ASH says:

    Thanks for the ADvice, but it didnt work, is there any other way to ix the problem. And is it possible that there is another command? or problem? Thank u

  10. lori says:

    Wow, you just saved my life. I thought my screen was royally screwed. Gotta love that Googlejuice!

  11. chad A says:

    you are the best. I really thought i needed glasses or something.

  12. Andrea B says:

    I can’t thank you enough!

  13. phil c says:

    Cheers – I was really puzzled

  14. otto says:

    thanks VERY MUCH!

  15. Maia says:

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I have been struggling for hours I thought I had a virus, I was about to go to the macstore… indeed it’s a very lame default setting.

  16. simon says:

    yeah baby. i have been tolerating my “failing” monitor for about 4 months. had googled but didn’t use the word blur. but thanks to you we’re back in the game. sweet!

  17. Pete Carnell says:

    Thanks – Mine is a new (year old) iMac 24 still on tiger – I just did an update and then it seems to be blurred on vertical lines. I thought it was the update. It has been driving me crazy for a week. But the click of the keys flipped it straight into focus.



  18. Nicolas says:


    just arrived back at the office

    woke my macbook up

    had the blurry patches

    google and 10 seconds later –> fixed!


  19. Darin says:

    Thanks. Googlejuice as they say is king. lol

    how the hell did i activate the zoom feature by mistake? strange.

  20. Ed says:

    Oh you legend. Of course I went the other way and thought that my LCD was broken. Then I spent a good while wondering if it was possible for an LCD to blur. Or DVI for that matter. Then I realised the laptop screen was doing it as well….. Either way I can now see!

  21. Julio F says:

    THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR THE TIP!. I thought it was something with the video card. TG!

  22. Sid says:

    Thanks a ton for writing about this. I just got my ’07 MBP back after having the logic board / graphics chipset / io board all replaced (under warranty, thanks to this Nvidia issue) and 24 hours later this started happening.
    I was sure this was going to be the final nail in my beloved laptop’s coffin, thank bob it wasn’t!

  23. Blueberry says:

    hahahaha!! I thought my LCD got screwed because I left my macbook for an hour in the sun…

    This is the best TIP ever! It just solved the problem in 1 sec! I am glad… I was so depressed and started thinking to get a new macbook!

    I am glad everything went back to normal!

  24. Duane says:

    Thank you, I literally called my doctor to have my eyes checked. I was up for about 27 hours during the time this happened to my macbook and i thought I was going crazy.

  25. Alan says:

    Thanks so much! I was freaking out!

  26. Alan says:

    It happened again! but this time the alt apple 8 doesn’t work anymore! what do you think?

  27. nathan says:

    I just had this problem with my windows 7 brand new computer, I didnt know what was happening so i restarted it i think it may be a keylogger but idk the symptoms of that but i was very terrified

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