Sometimes you may notice your computer screen colors look different or off from their usual appearance. This could happen for various reasons – maybe you accidentally changed a setting, installed new display drivers, or some sort of accessibility feature got enabled. Whatever the cause, it’s usually simple to get your screen looking normal again. In this guide, I’ll walk you through some common reasons for altered screen colors and how to troubleshoot and fix them.
Check display and color settings
The first thing to check is your display and color settings. On Windows 10, right click on your desktop and select “Display settings”. On the right side, scroll down to “Related settings” and click on “Display adapter properties”. This will open your graphics card control panel. Go to the color settings and make sure nothing looks unusual. For example, make sure the gamma hasn’t been drastically increased, which would wash out the colors. Also check that color channels like RGB haven’t been highly skewed from their defaults. Resetting any abnormal settings here may resolve your issue.
If you don’t see anything obviously wrong in the color settings, go back to the main Display Settings window in Windows 10 and scroll down to “Color calibration”. Make sure the toggles here are set to your preference. Turning off color calibration or resetting to default may help if you suspect Windows is applying an odd color profile.
Check for night light / blue light filter
Many displays now have a “night light” or “blue light filter” setting enabled by default. This tints the screen amber to make it more comfortable on eyes in dim lighting. If you’re seeing an unexpected yellowish or warm tint, check if night light is enabled and turn it off if so.
On Windows 10, night light can be toggled on/off in the main display settings. On macOS, it’s under System Preferences > Displays > Night Shift. Most smartphones also have a blue light filter in their quick settings/notifications tray. Disabling the filter on any devices using your display should return colors to normal.
Disable accessibility features
Accessibility features like color filters and color inversion can drastically alter screen colors as well. These are found under Windows 10’s Ease of Access settings. Go to Settings > Ease of Access > Color filters and turn off any enabled filters here. Also check Settings > Ease of Access > Color inversion and make sure it’s off.
On Mac, check System Preferences > Accessibility > Display and look for any color filters or inversion toggles here. Smartphone accessibility settings have similar options to check as well. Disabling any color modifications should undo any accessibility-related color changes.
Check for third party software
Certain third party software can also affect screen colors, like programs that tint your display at night or apply other color effects. F.lux is one common example on Windows and Mac. If you have any apps like these running, try closing them to see if it returns your display to normal. You may need to disable the program from auto-starting as well.
Some gaming GPU software like Nvidia GeForce Experience also has color filters built in that could be inadvertently enabled. Double check those settings and disable any active filters. Closing any third party utilities that may be altering colors is a good troubleshooting step.
Update display drivers
Outdated, buggy or corrupted graphics drivers can definitely cause unexpected color issues in some cases. Updating to the latest display drivers is worth a try. Download new drivers directly from your GPU manufacturer – Nvidia, AMD or Intel. On Windows, you can also open Device Manager, expand the Display adapters section, right click your graphics card, and select Update driver. This will automatically search and install the latest driver from Windows Update.
After updating graphics drivers, reboot your PC and see if colors return to their proper appearance. Sometimes the driver reset fixes problems with color settings getting stuck incorrectly.
Check display cable connections
This may sound obvious, but double check that display cables like HDMI or DisplayPort are fully plugged in at both ends. Loose connections can cause various visual artifacts. While checking connections, also try swapping to a different cable if you have a spare, in case the cable is defective in some way.
Issues like a partially scrambled screen signal can definitely alter colors, so eliminating any cable or connector problems is worthwhile. Make sure source and destination ports are clear of debris as well.
Change display color settings in BIOS
Some color issues may arise from incorrect display settings at a deeper hardware level. Booting into your computer’s BIOS setup utility lets you access and change some of these lower level display color and gamma settings:
1. Restart your computer and press the BIOS key during bootup – often Delete, F1, F2 or F12. This enters the BIOS setup.
2. Navigate to the configuration menu for your integrated or dedicated graphics. Look for options related to color format, gamma, etc.
3. Adjust any settings that look incorrect. For example, you may see an option for RGB color that’s incorrectly set to Limited instead of Full.
4. Save changes and exit BIOS. The corrected low level color settings may fix bootup display color issues.
Note that entering BIOS is only possible on desktop PCs, not smartphones or tablets. And be very careful not to change any other BIOS settings you’re unsure about.
Perform a factory reset
If all else fails, performing a factory reset of your display hardware can get colors back to their original state. On Windows 10, head to Settings > System > Recovery and choose Reset this PC. On Mac, reboot into macOS Recovery and choose Reinstall macOS from the Utilities menu. For smartphones and tablets, reset device settings from the device’s recovery mode.
This wipes the slate clean, eliminating any corrupted color settings from the system. Of course you’ll have to redo all personal settings, but it should give you a properly calibrated display once more. Consider it a last resort if no other troubleshooting worked.
When to get professional help
In rare cases, physical display damage or faulty hardware could also produce color issues not fixable through software tweaks. For example, cracked screens, failing T-Con boards or busted cables can create discolored output. If you’ve exhausted all the above software fixes, it may be time for professional repair.
Screen artifacts like green/pink vertical lines are another sign of failing components. It’s smart to get evaluated rather than spending endless time troubleshooting unfixable hardware faults. Retail electronics technicians can run diagnostics and determine whether replacement parts may be needed.
Altered screen colors can certainly be annoying, but fixing them is usually fairly straightforward. Run through display settings, night light filters, accessibility options and graphics drivers to undo unwanted color changes. Check for loose display cables or third party software as well. Resetting factory presets can get colors back to original condition if all else fails. In rare cases, physical repair may be needed for failed display hardware exhibiting discoloration and other visual artifacts. But in most instances, a few simple software checks should have your screen looking vibrant again.
|Incorrect display settings
|Reset display and color settings to default
|Night light / blue light filter enabled
|Turn off night light in settings
|Accessibility color filters enabled
|Disable accessibility color filters
|Third party color software
|Close any running color software
|Outdated graphics drivers
|Update to latest display drivers
|Loose display cable
|Reseat cables at both ends
|Incorrect BIOS color settings
|Adjust BIOS display settings
|Corrupted system software
|Factory reset device
This summarizes common causes of incorrect display color and how to restore normal color output. Following these troubleshooting steps should resolve most software-related color issues. Hardware faults may require professional service. With the right fixes, your computer screen can return to proper vibrant colors.