Troubleshooting a Laptop with a Black Screen

By Amanda Lacasse

Updated September 28, 2017

Problems with a laptop screen can sometimes be rectified without a trip to the repair shop.
i black laptop frame image by David G from

Encountering a black display screen when you know that your computer is powered on is the kind of experience every laptop user dreads. Problems with laptop LCD screens are somewhat common, however, and can sometimes be rectified without a trip to the repair shop. If your display screen is dark but your computer is running, the fault probably lies with the screen, not the machine itself. Follow a few simple steps to see if your laptop needs the services of a professional repair technician.

Strike any key to see if your laptop is in sleep mode or you have mistakenly activated the password feature on your computer.

Check the screen brightness adjustment. If this accidentally gets turned down completely, the screen will appear black.

Press the "Fn" key and one of the function keys at the top of your keyboard (probably F5) to make sure that your laptop's priority is set for the built-in screen and not an external monitor. If this does not rectify the problem, press both keys again to reset the priority to its original level.

Check the lid close switch, usually located near the hinges. If it is malfunctioning or dirty, it can stop your LCD screen from lighting when you open the laptop. Note that newer machines may have a magnetic switch rather than a button.

Tilt your laptop screen slowly back and forth, looking for a faint image. If you can detect one, the problem is most likely a faulty backlight or inverter board.

Examine your screen closely for physical damage. If you see any cracks or chips in the surface, no matter how small, the screen will need to be replaced.


Toshiba warns never to touch a broken LCD panel, as the liquid inside could cause serious injury if it comes into contact with your skin.