Horizontal Black Lines on MacBook Pro Display | What Causes This and How Do I Fix It?

Black Lines on MacBook Screen Issue Credit: Victor Emmanuel Baylosis / iFixit
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Is your MacBook Pro displaying black horizontal lines across the top menu bar of your screen? You’re not alone.

This black line issue is quite concerning and surprisingly affects many MacBook Pro users, some of which are even petitioning Apple to recall these affected laptops.

Unfortunately, these black lines may be an early warning sign of faulty components that Apple is not yet fixing or replacing for free.

Yes, your screen or other internal components might be failing. 

But before you get too upset, there are standard troubleshooting practices to try, which we’ll discuss below. But first, it’s important to understand what’s causing the issue to begin with.

Why Does My MacBook Have Black Horizontal Lines on the Display?

Your MacBook might not show these black lines when you first boot it up – that’s because the common factor across all MacBooks displaying these black horizontal lines is heat.

If you use your MacBook for work, video editing, etc., for long periods, you’ll likely notice these lines rearing their ugly heads later in the day after the device gets hot.

According to Dan from iFixit, on 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks, the T-CON board that sits between the heat exchangers within the main body can overheat, damaging it.

It’s possible that your Mac’s fans have failed, or the vents have been blocked due to dust or other physical obstructions. Otherwise, heavy usage and heat alone are enough to cause the black lines.

Dan goes on to say that this is now known as a T-CON board issue.

“The design of this series places part of the display’s logic within the main case placed just above the heat transfer fins of the heat sink. So when the system is running hard the heat can boil up cooking the T-CON board.”

How Can I Mitigate the Black Lines in the Meantime?

  • Keep your MacBook cool by running a fan behind it, making sure it’s adequately ventilated, and also give it a break from time to time.
  • If you’re using an external display, shut your MacBook and work on your external display when possible.

What Do I Do Next? | Troubleshooting

Try these troubleshooting tips before taking your MacBook in for service. At the very least, the next tip will help you explain the issue to the repair staff.

Take a Screenshot

First, you’ll want to know if the horizontal lines are a graphics problem or a display problem. It’s easy to do, too. Take a screenshot of the affected area to determine where the issue lies.

  • If the lines appear in the screenshot, you likely have a GPU problem. 
  • If the lines do not appear in the screenshot, you have a display problem.

Reset Your System Management Controller (SMC) 

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Unplug the power cord and all of its peripherals.
  3. Wait for 15 seconds.
  4. Plug the MacBook back into its power cable.
  5. Wait five more seconds, then press the power to turn your MacBook on.

Reset Your PRAM (Parameter Random-Access Memory)

Note that this may result in the loss of your MacBook’s personalized settings, which would need to be set back to your liking later.

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Find the following keys: Command, Option, P, and R. You’ll need to hold these keys together later in step four.
  3. Turn on your MacBook.
  4. Press and hold the Command, Option, P, R keys. Press these keys simultaneously before the grey screen appears.
  5. Hold down those keys until your MacBook restarts, and you hear the startup chime the second time.
  6. Finally, release the keys.

While worth trying, the previously mentioned troubleshooting techniques are not a guaranteed fix as this seems to be a hardware issue.

There is no active recall for this problem, yet, and some affected users have paid to have their device repaired, while other users have reported luck in having Apple replace both the lid and top case at no cost outside of their warranty – although, we wouldn’t count on it.

If our troubleshooting tips didn’t work, you’ll need to take your MacBook into Apple or an Authorized Apple Service Provider sooner than later if possible. If you don’t, the issue may just become worse: see below.

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