Home > Mac, Technology > Intel iMac 27″ developing dirty, dark spots and patches on the screen : The zombie problem that just won’t die!

Intel iMac 27″ developing dirty, dark spots and patches on the screen : The zombie problem that just won’t die!

Like one of those nightmare zombies that never stays dead, the dreaded screen dirty dark patch screen problem has recurred….

Started with this:

My Intel ‘Aluminium’ iMac 24″ roasting with dark spots on screen

Admittedly, it did come  back from repairs in record time.

But that was only the beginning, Since this battle for a replacment continued for over a year!!

Then, my new iMac 27″ started to develop dark patches on the screen too.

FFS Apple, fix it.. I just had a new screen for my replacement iMac  in November!

I’m running it in a cool, clean dry environment.

As usual, the discolouration appears to be behind the glass. Or even behind the pixels themselves, in the underlying lighting panel. So there’s no way it could be dirt from regular use.

This time, the discolouration looks somewhat like hand prints…

Or, forget trying to describe it. Let me show you some pics…

Photos taken with an old D70, so vignetting and sensor dirt is a little bit of a problem.

Please note, that these marks only appeared last week so I’ve upped the contrast of the pictures. But I can assure you that within a month they will be quite visible without tweakage.

Ignore the yellow piss-like tinge at the bottom of the screen, although it’s there, it’s hardly noticeable at honest contrasts.

Here is a closeup of the left hand side. Note that I had to intentionally blur the picture when taking it since the moire effect of the pixels made the final image unviewable. What a mess of dots and a fine patina of blobs! Yuck!

Now for the right hand side:

This looks a little bit like the heel of someone’s hand, perhaps…?!?

What more can I add?… This is my second iMac 27″ screen and my 7th (or 8th) iMac screen in total. Grrrr Arrgh! As the phrase goes.

Apple’s quality control has not improved over the last three years.

I’ll keep you posted.

  1. Steve
    April 3, 2011 at 3:19 am

    • nanchatte
      April 12, 2011 at 2:22 am

      I think his video is worth transcribing because what he said certainly casts a shadow over Apple’s legendary customer service.

      Hello everyone… Well, my name is Steven and I used to be a proud owner of an iMac 27″
      A state of the art…. their flagship computer.
      And basically after 90 days they invalidated my warranty and said that they’re not gonna fix it because it’s been used in a TOXIC ENVIRONMENT.
      First of all, let me just take you on a journey… I’ll bring you over here…. to the environment that my iMac is used in.
      Erm… let’s see, it’s almost like any normal person’s home office. maybe much smaller of course you know… but… well…

      [Here he takes us on an impromptu tour of his humble, yet well kept, and might I say, well kitted… abode.
      highlights include
      microwave, plasma TV… iPhone and docking station…. and…. heaven forbid, he even has a Cup Noodle in to cupoard!!!!

      It is during this tour that he shows us his iMac.

      My iMac… My iMac… let me show you my iMac. I think you can see fairly well on the right hand side of the screen: Marks running from top to bottom. That’s actually… those seem to be getting worse. But even on a greyish background you can still see it fairly clearly. Bring it in….
      Argh!… look at a that man! It’s disgusting!
      But, erm… Apple have turned around an’ said I’ve been using the Mac in a TOXIC ENVIRONMENT.
      Yeah, it might be attached to my kitchen…

      [He continues the tour]

      Look, my computer’s running absolutely bloody fine but…
      The screen is a complete mess!
      And Apple have said, “Go get stuffed, you’ve got a dirty house you’ve got a toxic bloody environment.”
      And I will not accept that.
      They want me to pay four hundred and seventeen frigging pounds for a new screen!
      What? Because of this toxic environment? This toxic environment?
      Jeezus! There’s millions upon millions of people around the world who have an office just like this…
      Probably guys…. probably guys who have even small offices than this… Jeezus!

      [Back on the tour]

      Well. I’m afraid it’s over… You know like Apple… You know like…
      Your firm… Steve Jobs….Your representative called my home a toxic environment!
      And you need to get that sorted!
      If you’re treating customers like this after 90 days… after 90 days… not even a year…
      You are BREAKING THE LAW, sir… You are BREAKING THE LAW…
      And you are breaking the covenant with he customer.
      And I’ll not take…. I’ll not take it!


      I sincerely hope they see their stupidity and you get your problem sorted out as rapidly as I did.

      I think I’m going to send this to The Register. They always seem to know what to do with material like this!

  2. Tim
    April 10, 2011 at 10:10 am

    So any update? I just noticed this occurring on my 27 inch iMac as well.

    • Susanne
      February 3, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      I have a 6 year old iMac. This morning I saw, for the first time, a big grey smudge in the middle of the screen. It’s in an outhouse office which is not heated when I’m not in it, so it was all very cold when I turned it on. As the screen warmed up, over the course of 2 hours, the smudge disappeared. As I write it’s completely gone.

  3. May 12, 2011 at 2:40 am

    I have this issue, on a much smaller scale. It’s not as bad as yours, it’s just on the right bottom corner. It’s totally weird as to what it could be. Any updates?

  4. Rob
    May 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    This is why I’ll never buy a Mac computer. iPhone, sure, whatever. But my $700 Windows machine is more reliable than the 27″ iMac I use at work, which is now developing this problem.

    • nanchatte
      July 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

      Yes, I have seen rows upon rows of 27″ iMacs on sale second hand in Akihabara, they all have this problem!

  5. lindsay
    June 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    This is what my screen looks like and Im really frustrated…what do i do??!

    • nanchatte
      July 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Contact Apple ASAP, they have dealt with every one of my problems.

  6. Antony@demanuele.net
    July 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    This seems to be a fairly common issue, many posts on various blogs. My 27″ went back after 15 months with same issue but it had AppleCare and Apple replaced it within 2 hours at local Apple Store. I got the standard questions about do I smoke, what environment etc but iMac is used in a clean office…. I think Apple need to hold their hands up on this issue, too many reports appearing.

  7. antony@demanuele.net
    July 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    There are too many reports of this issue on the Internet and Apple need to hold their hands up on this one. My 15 months young 27″ iMac developed this issue and my local Apple Store replaced the panel within 2 hours (it was under AppleCare), however, beforehand I was asked all the standard questions such as do I smoke and have a dusty environment, the answer to which was NO. The iMac is used in a clean and roomy home office.

    • nanchatte
      July 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

      thanks for the message.
      Same as my situation. However, since it last went back there has been no recurrence, but then I’ve hardly used it, as I had an old powermac which I was using instead. I’ve put the old powermac out to pasture now since Lion came out, so we’ll see what happens.

  8. August 30, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I bought an Imac about a little more than 8 months and now i’ve been having this same problem. Will apple still help with this problem if I call? I didn’t purchase any warranty on it. Thank you.

    • nanchatte
      August 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

      I’d get on to them quickly if I were you. You still are covered by the initial 1 year warranty if you purchased it new. First, register it on the Apple web site then you can call them. Even though it says phone support for only 90 days, that is phone technical support and training, not repairs and service….

      Good luck, let me know how you get on!

  9. Dave
    September 28, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Hi there,

    I bought my 27″ iMac just under 2 months ago and one evening sat down to this issue in the top right hand corner. Mine had 4 black dots which almost look like water marks / burn marks as well as some faint lines underneath them. Took it back twice and after a fight got a refund.

    I researched this issue extensively and this is clearly a massive problem with the screens globally. I seriously am battling to bring myself to buy another one. It seems Apple have a problem that they are not willing to admit to or fix. Such a pity.

  10. Makis
    October 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I’ ve just got an LCD replacement for my 21,5′ mid 2010 iMac.
    Same problem: grey stains.. Is this a dust problem ? A heat problem ?
    Apple can you tell us something about ???

    • nanchatte
      December 11, 2011 at 6:04 am

      I’d tend towards heat rather than dust…. Unless heat is causing the dust to stick O_o

    • nanchatte
      December 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

      … Apple don’t read forums. It’s degrading.

  11. Makis
    October 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    ..I live in Italy

  12. terry newton
    October 4, 2011 at 12:34 am

    I had this exact same issue. The Apple retail store first told me it was tobacco smoke causing it ( nobody has EVER smoked in my home), they then admitted that the screen was de-laminating, and have taken it in for repair to have the screen replaced.

  13. Rupert Tenison
    December 7, 2011 at 5:06 am

    I have this problem too. It is growing from the top left hand side of the screen. My standard 12 month warranty expired about 2 months ago but I do have AppleCare…does anyone know if this means I can still take it back to the store? Thanks

  14. Gregory
    December 13, 2011 at 2:17 am

    I just noticed this on my machine.

    Will it continue to get worse and worse until the screen is unusable?

  15. Ian Snelgrove
    January 24, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Me too. 2009 model. Not fixed for 2010 or 2011.
    This is an ongoing matter on the Apple forums.
    It was up to around 60+ pages, but when people started trying to organise themselves around the issue Apple lopped all the posts down to 30 pages, removing all that content.
    You can see what’s left on the community forums by searching for ‘Greyish Smudge marks behind the glass screen’.
    It seems to be practise by the Apple Store to claim its your ‘environment’. Some folks have got replacements, but the problem returns.
    Or http://www.dirty-screen.com/en/ if you want to sign a petition. Please do. Apple are in denial and now censoring like a Soviet state, its outrageous. These are expensive machines.

  16. January 30, 2012 at 12:16 am

    We made a website called http://www.dirty-screen.com to make a group of disappointed iMac’s users…

    Come, subscribe and comment!

    For the moment we are 200 subscribed ( in 2 weeks!) . only french people… we have to be known by english/us people and all the others…
    Can someones help us????

  17. January 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Come, subscribe and comment on http://www.dirty-screen.com
    Apple can’t go on like this… the same problem since 2007… and they didn’t do anything !!!!

    Please, give http://www.dirty-screen.com everywhere you can, for english/us people…
    For the moment, we are 200 subscribed… 97% of them are french!

  18. Harry
    February 20, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I think this helphttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cHMHzq5E5I

    • July 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

      I don`t know if it was you that sent me an email about this iMac issue. It had Harry in the email,and you seem to be the only Harry on here. In regards to your video. This does not resolve the issue. It`s a hardware fault at manufacture,and Apple has not admitted it?

  19. February 20, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I am having the same problems as well. I have contacted apple and began a process to escalate this issue to the recall department. If you are having this problem, please email me with screen shots and information and I will submit all information to apple recall department.

  20. Stewart Greenberg
    April 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I have the same exact problem with the dark spots and patches on my iMac 27″ monitor. I just came from my local Apple Store at Scottsdale Quarter in Scottsdale, AZ. They told me there was nothing they would do except charge me $600.00 to fix it. It is less than two years old. I told them that was not acceptable and I was going to tell the people browsing in the store about the crummy products they have. They called security and had a stupid security guy escort me to my car threatening to call the police and have me arrested for trespassing if I did not leave immediately. Screw Apple! Don’t buy their stuff. The are an oppressive company that feeds the masses the crap they need.

  21. May 19, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I have had 3 brand new iMacs – all 21.5″ Intel – and all three of them have had the “grey smudges” problem. This current one has a yellow tint and vertical lines problem. What’s outrageously disgraceful about the whole situation is that there are SO MANY users who suffer from this and the so-called “award winning” Apple customer service puts the whole blame on to the user. I was told the same, I fought for my voice with the “customer relations” to get it sorted the last time. Let’s see what’s coming next..

  22. June 19, 2012 at 4:14 am

    My problem started in 2007 24″iMAC Faulty screen. They could not fix it,and gave me the 27″model same again. Four times the screen was replaced. They took no notice,so i got an Advocate to help me. They phoned Apple up on my behalf,and in short they gave me a brand new iMac,but that went faulty within 3 months. Its just came back from repair,but i am not touching it,because the tech guy said he did not know what caused this,and it will be sent away to Apple to look at it. I know it will happen again?

  23. December 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Guys, do you know if the problem still exists in a new 2012 iMacs? I own one from 2008 and after a year when the warranty dissappeared the black spots showed up. I will NEVER buy iMac again. This is cheap chinese piece of crap. Cheap only for it’s creator, not for customers…

  24. yrjo pesonen
    December 29, 2012 at 2:04 am


    disassemble and clean the lcd panel yourself, if you´ve run out of warranty. Dust and smoke particles between the back light and the lcd panel.

    • nanchatte
      March 13, 2013 at 12:27 am

      No. The shadows are in the LCD panel itself, not between the glass and the panel.

  25. edrees
    January 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    I got also the same problem in IMac 21.5 I bought in may of 2012

  26. January 23, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I have the same problem with my I mac 27 that I byed in 2011 ! I have some gosts in the side of the display ! Im taking to store and hope will fix it ! happy that Im still in warranty 🙂

  27. John
    June 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Is it just condensation? I haven’t used my 27″ screen much over the past 2 weeks, and it has been cold and rainy for that whole period. My screen has a lot of ‘fuzzy’ marks like you’re all describing: like fingerprints all over it that you can’t rub off.

    I have a little blow heater, I set it on the lowest setting, pointed it to direct warm air across the screen, and used the screen on the brightest setting. It’s been a couple of hours now, but little by little the “fog” is definitely clearing up.

  28. Next time its a hackentosh
    December 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    This thread appears to be dying but after my second replacement display falling outside the 90 period it happened again @!! GRRR… but I think its a heat issue I have caught my screen smudging then after a cold start up its gone but slowly appears after 1hour or so. Clean install of lion (pervious was mavericks) didn’t help but i noticed it happen when the machine was idle so on a hunch I installed SMCfancontrol and bumped up the ODD and Hard Drive fans to 50% speed which act like case fans on the 27 iMac the over all temp dropped 10c. So far the issue has not returned. Anyone have this happen in a full time aircon/climate control situation?

    • bert strom
      February 12, 2014 at 5:24 am

      I guess I have the same problem. I was just searching for the best screen cleaning method and stumbled on this and other similar threads. My mid 2011 27″ iMac has been in a smoke free very clean house with full time HVAC. My room stays between 72 and 78 year round.

      This is disturbing. I was hoping someone would just say use de-natured alcohol or something.

      • Theresa
        September 22, 2014 at 7:54 am

        No, your problem is my problem too. I just haven’t had anything done to my desktop because I bought it refurbished and of course no warranty. Check the fans on your system. The dark gray discoloration started at the top left half of the screen. I noticed this about three years ago. It slowly crawled across the screen in a blob-like manner. It now covers almost all of the left half of the screen,

        Recently I’ve noticed dark gray discoloration in streaks running vertically just past the midpoint of the screen on the right half if the screen. I think it has to do with the fan system in the computer. Recently I noticed a huge difference in fan strength. Meaning the air current from the fans at the top of the computer blow much stronger on the right side comparable to the left. The further left I run my hand along the top the less output of air to the point that I would be comfortable stating ” the left half of the computers fan system does not work. My theory is inadequate cooling is causing the problem.

  29. December 11, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I have this issue with my 30″ cinema display. Apple needs to have a recall on this or I will never buy a damn product from them again!

  30. fredk
    February 16, 2016 at 4:05 am

    This is common with the LG screens and has nothing to do with dirt or smoke, but is a form of burn in. Happens on Samsung TVs all the time.

    Easy to fix on the Mac. Change your screen color to white, and leave it that way for a week, the smudges will go away. At least that has been my experience. On the TV’s just unplug for a time, they also heal. They may come back, but can be “cured” again.

  31. June 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Anyone had any luck with Apple covering this? (See link below) I’m taking mine in in a few days to see if it holds up. This link was sent to me by an apple care specialist btw so it seems legit.


  1. March 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

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