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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Weird colors on macbook screen. Help!


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msieger

 
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Please bear with me as I give you the details.

My hard drive crashed almost two years ago. I went to the Genius Bar, where they put in a new hard drive and loaded Snow Leopard (my original hard drive had Tiger.) I then bought an external hard drive and regularly made Time Machine backups.

Then a week ago that hard drive crashed. This time I bought a new hard drive online and installed it myself. I then formatted and partitioned the drive and installed Tiger. I then realized that Tiger does not have Time Machine. So I bought the Snow Leopard upgrade and installed it, so that I could access my Time Machine backups. I then installed my most recent Time Machine backup onto my new hard drive.

Everything worked fine, except now the display colors are all off, with everything tinged red and blue, including a blue background in all windows in which I try to type text, with black test surrounded by white patches around the border of the text.

Is this a software or hardware problem? I tested the hardware with my utility disk, and all is well. If it is a software problem, what can I do to get my colors back to normal?

I tried the PRAM restart, and that didn't work. Please help. Thanks!
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chscag

 
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It sounds like your colors are reversed. Open System Preferences, and click on the "Accessibility" icon. I'm using Mountain Lion so it will be different for Snow Leopard. Anyway, it's the icon for handicapped or assisted computing. When that opens, go to "displays". Make sure the colors are normal. In other words, no check in the box that says "reverse colors". Also check to see if "voice over" is activated and turn it off if it is.
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msieger

 
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Thanks so much for your quick response. I'm not at home with my MacBook right now, but I did try that already, reversing black-on-white to white-on-black in the accessibility options. It reversed, but didn't solve the problem. The colors are still way off. I'm pretty sure the voice setting was normal. I will check that again when I am home. Any other ideas?
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chscag

 
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I don't know of any software error which could cause that to happen unless it's a hardware problem.

Since you didn't mention which Mac you have, I would only be guessing at what the problem could be. The only other thing that we've run into which would cause those colors to be that far off is a defective graphics adapter or a bad video cable. The LCD could be suspect but not likely.

There's always the possibility that your Time Machine backup which you recovered was corrupt. You may be forced to do a clean install of Snow Leopard to test if that was the problem.
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msieger

 
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Sorry, it's a 2007 MacBook. Unless I messed something up internally when I installed the new hard drive (and I don't think I did), it seems too coincidental that this problem occurred after my new install. So I'm guessing it's not a hardware problem. You may be onto something regarding a corrupt Time Machine backup. How do I do a clean install of Snow Leopard? Do I erase the hard drive and then just use the $19.99 Snow Leopard disk I just bought from Apple? Is that disk a complete independent OS install, not just an upgrade that depends on an existing install of a previous OS?
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Do I erase the hard drive and then just use the $19.99 Snow Leopard disk I just bought from Apple? Is that disk a complete independent OS install, not just an upgrade that depends on an existing install of a previous OS?
Yes, boot the MacBook with the Snow Leopard DVD, accept the license and the language. Skip the install and instead click on the top menu "Utilities" and then "Disk Utility". Use Disk Utility to erase the hard drive. Format it as Mac OS Extended Journaled, GUID scheme. Name the hard drive Macintosh HD.

After that's finished, complete the install of Snow Leopard. Let me know if that clears up the colors or not.
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msieger

 
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Will do that tonight and will let you know. Thank you!
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I did a clean install of Snow Leopard tonight, but the colors are still bad. So you are probably right that is the graphics adapter or video cable. When I put in the new hard drive I also put in a new DVD drive. I wonder if I damaged the video cable when I did that? I checked the cable and it looks fine. Is there any way I can isolate the problem without taking the entire system apart?
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No, not without taking it apart again. You may have loosened a cable from its connector when you replaced the optical drive. Replacing the hard drive shouldn't have dislodged any cables. Go to the ifixit web site and take a look at the breakdown for your machine. That should give you some idea of what to look for.

iFixit: The free repair manual
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msieger

 
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Thank you. I have visited the IFixit website. It shows where the display cable connects to the board, and I've checked and doublechecked it and it is firmly connected. It is kind of hard to press that cable into the board where it wraps its way toward the far right-hand corner of the board. Is it possible that if the cable is scrunched too much it could cause the weird colors?
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Quote:
Is it possible that if the cable is scrunched too much it could cause the weird colors?
Possibly. However, it may be a case of a defective cable. With a machine of the age of yours, it's not unusual for cables to get brittle within from the heat buildup and fail. Sometimes they don't completely fail but give the weird symptoms you're experiencing. Before swapping out any cables, try to reseat them to the connector. But, be very careful when you do as the connectors on the logic board are likewise brittle from the heat. You don't want to damage a connector as that would mean a new logic board. And that would not be worth the cost.
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msieger

 
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Thank you. I will try to reseat the cable. If the cable is pinched [I've seen your moderators refer to this possibility in answers to other posts], how would I go about trying to "unpinch" it?
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The "pinching" of a cable can happen when it gets caught between the hinge area of the lid when it's opened and closed. A sometimes occurrence with portable Mac computers and PCs. Usually re-orienting the cable so that it does not get caught resolves the problem. However, the constant pinching of the cable may cause it to eventually fail. Replacing pinched cables is the best solution.
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msieger

 
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I ordered a new display cable and installed it today. The colors are fixed! Everything is working great now. Thank you very much for all of your help!
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That's great news. The old cable was probably brittle and had an internal failure. Glad to hear you're back up and running. Have fun.
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