As you can see from the image below, when I plot 3D surfaces, regions, etc, they render as though there was no light source (left is Mathematica's help documentation, right is how it renders for me):

RegionPlot3D[x^2 + y^3 - z^2 > 0, {x, -2, 2}, {y, -2, 2}, {z, -2, 2}]

comparison of documentation vs. evaluated

This is just an example - but it happens every time.

Weirdly, when I rotate the image, the rendering temporarily renders normally - but only while I'm rotating; the moment I release the mouse, it goes back to being light-less.

Any idea what's wrong, and how to fix it?

I'm not aware of having made any preference changes - wouldn't know how to...

I use Mathematica 12.1.00 for MacOs X (64-bit). And I should add that the problem has been going on for months - restarts make no difference, global clearing makes no difference.


In answer to @Edmund's question below, the Lighting setting makes no difference. Here is an example with Lighting->"Standard":

enter image description here

And if I click to rotate the same graphic, it suddenly looks like this - but only while I am rotating it:

enter image description here

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For reference, what version and OS are you using? $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2020 at 14:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Does this persist if you quit Mathematica and restart? $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Jun 3, 2020 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ I use Mathematica for MacOs X (64-bit). And, yes, the problem persists - I'll add these two items to the question, thank you. $\endgroup$ Jun 3, 2020 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ What does Options[RegionPlot3D, Lighting] return when evaluated? $\endgroup$
    – Edmund
    Jun 4, 2020 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Edmund. It returns *{Lighting -> Automatic}*. However, I have now tried adjusting the Lighting setting to "Standard" and "Directional" and the problem remains... $\endgroup$ Jun 4, 2020 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


I'm turning my recommendations in the comments into an answer for anyone experiencing the same issue:

There is a bug in the Metal renderer on macOS. See here: https://community.wolfram.com/groups/-/m/t/1905659

Execute the following to see which rendering engine works best.

Style[Graphics3D[Sphere[]], RenderingOptions -> {"3DRenderingEngine" -> #}]&/@{"Metal","OpenGL","Mesa"}

You can set the option once for all plots like this:

SetOptions[$FrontEnd, RenderingOptions -> {"3DRenderingEngine" -> "OpenGL"}]

... or you can add this to global options or init.m.


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