Why Does the Contrast on My Monitor Keep Popping Up?


When the contrast settings box pops up on your monitor, it can indicate a problem with the computer settings or the monitor itself. In many cases, the issue isn't related to contrast at all but is simply a general settings problem. By taking steps to eliminate potential problems, you can narrow down the potential causes and reduce the need to spend hours on the phone with technical support.

Physical Issues

  • Physical monitor problems, either on the exterior or interior, can cause the contrast to behave erratically. On most monitors, you can change the contrast using a button on the bottom or side of screen; the button is usually marked with a half-filled circle. If the button gets stuck or if it doesn't release all the way, it can cause the contrast box to pop up repeatedly. Buttons often get stuck when they have gotten wet or if they are pushed too hard. Dirty inner workings on your monitor can also cause it to behave strangely: If your computer is in a dusty or smoky room, it may need to be cleaned by a computer repair professional. Cleaning the monitor yourself is risky, as it is easy to damage the delicate mechanisms. To test for physical problems, try transferring the monitor to another CPU to see if the problem reoccurs. If it does, the problem is with the monitor. If not, the contrast is due to something in your computer.

Computer Updates

  • To some extent, the contrast on your monitor is dependent on the video card and how it communicates with your computer. If your card is damaged or hasn't been updated, it can cause the screen to malfunction. Ensure the best performance by updating both the video card drivers and the software for your computer. On a Mac, choose Software Update from the Apple menu; on a PC, choose Windows Update from the Start menu.

Default Monitor

  • If you are using a monitor that didn't come with your computer, the contrast issues might be with Plug and Play, the feature that enables different brands and models to work together without extensive configuration, or the default monitor settings. This can happen when you have changed monitors; the computer may think it is using the original monitor and display the contrast box because the current settings do not match the original settings. To change the default monitor, right-click on the desktop, and choose "Settings." Select the box next to "Use this Device as the Primary Monitor" and restart the computer.

Monitor Settings

  • If the current screen settings are incompatible with the monitor itself, the computer will display the contrast box to prompt you to change the settings. Chances are, your screen settings are too high; when the computer is set to display an image with a resolution it can't handle, the monitor will behave erratically. To change the settings, right-click on the screen, choose "Settings" and adjust the options under the Screen Resolution section. A standard resolution for flat-panel monitors is 1024 by 768 pixels; if you have an older monitor, check your computer manual for the optimal resolution. You can also adjust the color settings; it may require experimentation to find the right option for your computer.

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