Anti-Reflective coatings separating on MacBook displays

MacBookProIconXThe anti-reflective display coating on some MacBook systems may separate from the glass panel over time, leaving a notable permanent discoloration on the display. When this occurs, the discoloration may spread quite easily as the separation expands. Given that Apple has used anti-reflective coatings on many MacBook systems (both retina and non-retina), this problem may be a potential issue for many people.

The problem is somewhat difficult to see under most room lighting conditions, so to view it, go outside or near a window where you will get ample natural light, and turn off or sleep your Mac (or simply dim its display). Then look at a direct reflection of the natural light on your display. If you see light patches and streaks around the corners and edges of your display, then you might be experiencing this issue.

One possibility is that light discoloration on your display is from dirt and grime, so try using a mildly-damp cloth to gently rub the patches with minimal pressure. If this causes them to disappear, then all you have to do is clean your display; however, if not, then you likely are experiencing display coating separation issues.

Unfortunately, if the problem is from coating separation, then it cannot be fixed without servicing, and you can only take steps to prevent further damage by being as gentle with your screen as possible. This means not only avoid pressing and rubbing it, but also open the display as gently as possible and avoid any twisting or torsion forces that could even slightly bend the glass surface.

To prevent this issue from occurring, try sticking to the following approaches for caring for your display:

  1. Avoid using or storing your Mac in direct sunlight.
  2. Avoid extreme temperatures, such as storing your Mac in the hot trunk of a car, or leaving it in freezing temperatures.
  3. Avoid pressing, poking, or scraping your display.
  4. Do not lift your Mac by its display.
Coating separation on a MacBook Pro

By reflecting the sky or another bright light on a MacBook’s display, you can see whether or not discolored patches show up, indicating anti-reflective coating separation (image credit:

If you are experiencing this issue and are looking to have it fixed, then you may be met with inconsistent support from Apple. According to MacRumors, some who have had this issue have been told this is cosmetic damage that is not repairable under Apple’s warranty services, whereas others have had their systems fixed.

This issue and the response from Apple has spurred the development of a Web site called “Staingate” that is attempting to spread word about this issue and hope Apple steps up to handle it properly. Recently, such actions for graphics issues in many MacBook systems caused Apple to eventually address the problem, so perhaps this effort will have similar results.

10 thoughts on “Anti-Reflective coatings separating on MacBook displays

  1. Mark Smith

    Is this problem likely to affect the latest 2015 Macbook Pro on sale right now? Or worth avoiding buying a Mac?

    1. Topher Kessler Post author

      It could technically affect any system; however, sometimes these things happen only to batches of systems, and often its difficult to see if its user error (such as leaving the system in the trunk of a car in desert heat), or from a manufacturing defect. This shouldn’t at all be a reason to avoid buying a Mac if that’s the platform you want.

  2. Rodger Cook

    I disagree with Mr. Kessler. I am one of the users affected and Apple “wants” to believe this is a user issue. I can tell you that this is absolutely not a user issue. So, if you want to drop $2500-$3500 on a Retina MacBook Pro only to have the AR coating to peel in 7-14 months, and then have an Apple Genius tell you it is “cosmetic” and there is nothing that can be done, then go for it. The whole point of acquiring a retina display is for the DISPLAY QUALITY!!!

  3. Rodger Cook

    To be clear, I would wait to purchase a Retina MacBook Pro until after Apple addresses this issue. If they choose to continue to declare this is a cosmetic issue and do not allow free repairs/replacements to the affected users (whether in warranty or not), then I say buyer beware. This has not been the case with Apple in the past, so I expect they will come around with a solution to the AR and the affected customers.

    1. Tom

      This is exactly what I am doing. My current MBP is pushing 9 years old. I will NOT, however, invest $2k in a machine and “hope” it will not delaminate. I need some guarantee from Apple. If they don’t give it, then I don’t buy.

  4. Antionio Mendez

    According to Apple, users are, as usual, to blame. They attribute the ‘cosmetic’ problems to your body fluids and/or carrying your jewel in a bag or sleeve. So, here is some sound advice for using the worlds most expensive laptop and most ‘advanced’ screen:

    1. Use gloves when typing so your finger oils will not remain on the keys when you close the lid.
    2. Wear a mask, in case you spit, sneeze or cry to avoid liquids hitting the screen.
    3. Never ever clean the screen.
    4. Never transport the laptop in any kind of ‘protective’ bag.

    Apple even has, and this is unheard of, the audacity to remove critical posts on their own support forum. Welcome to 1984!

    I feel really sorry for the unfortunate customers because they must be thinking: Is the product really of any practical use?

  5. melissa

    I joined the unfortunate side today realizing what has been happening and why I cant clean it off. we started moving over to apple in Dec 2012 and this morning I had 2500$ of a mac in a basket ready to buy for dear husband, I abandoned that idea when I finally figured out what is happeneing after googling “macbook screen delamination” and came up with so many others…ugg what a waste of money. and I just cant absolve myself to go back to windows, maybe back to linux then. total disappointment. mid 2014 macbook pro 13″ retina.


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