How to get rid of image burn-in on an LCD display

Annoying image burn-in on LCD displays can usually be minimized or eliminated.

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Credit: LG

A reader asks:

“I use a 32-inch LCD TV for my home office display, connected to my PC using HDMI. I also use it for my PS3 and Wii to prevent a Shining ‘all work and no play’-type incident, so it gets quite a lot of use every day. I left town over the weekend and unthinkingly left a fixed image on the display. When I got back, I found that the image had burned in. I thought LCD displays wouldn’t do that, but I was clearly mistaken. The ocean image that was displayed left shadows of the waves across the display. Is there a way to get rid of this problem, or at least minimize it?”

It was a widespread myth for a while that transmissive displays like LCDs weren’t subject to image persistence (a.k.a. burn-in), but it is more accurate to say that they are less subject to burn-in than phosphor-based displays such as CRTs and color plasma. The good news is that on an LCD it can usually be reversed but on a CRT it is usually permanent. 

To start, power-down your display for at least 48 hours. If the image is still persistent, try this tip from Lifehacker, which involves using an all-white screen to overwrite the first burn. You could also display static on your screen instead, or make a screensaver that alternates between black and white images. 

The theory here is that the rapidly cycling white/black essentially resets the offending parts of the display with stuck pixels. It may take a long time—perhaps a few days—to fade the persistent image away, but it should improve. However, please note that this is not a guaranteed fix.

Another thing you could try: Edge of our Pants has a quick-fix DVD that aids in removing things like screen burn-in, image retention, and even dead pixels. You can either purchase a physical DVD for $10, or a download for $3. can download and burn to a DVD on your side so you don’t have to wait for it to arrive by mail.

For more on display technology:

This tip was originally published on IDG Answers, a reader-powered help desk for answering tech questions.

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