Calibrate your monitor: 12 steps (with pictures)

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Calibrate your monitor: 12 steps (with pictures)
Calibrate your monitor: 12 steps (with pictures)

In order to view images as intended, your monitor will need to be calibrated. If you are a web designer, digital photographer or graphic artist, this is even more important. You don't want to spend hours picking out just the right, subtle color palette, only to find it doesn't look like it on someone else's screen or printed; you will need to calibrate the display to make sure you get what you see.


Part 1 of 2: Things to do before calibrating

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 1

Step 1. Check the screen resolution

Choose the highest possible resolution, unless the text becomes too small. Consult the manual or the box of the monitor for the default resolution. Set the screen to this.

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 2

Step 2. Make sure the computer monitor is in high color and 24-bit mode

If the screen is in 16-bit color, the color depth is not sufficient for calibration.

  • In Windows you can check this by right clicking on the desktop and choosing Graphic Properties.
  • On the Mac, choose Preferences > Displays > Colors:Millions.
Calibrate Your Monitor Step 3

Step 3. Let the display warm up for at least 15 (preferably 30) minutes before starting calibration

This ensures that your computer is completely ready.

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 4

Step 4. Make sure there is no reflections, glare or direct light on the screen

The room doesn't have to be dark, but the indirect light shouldn't affect what you see on the screen.

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 5

Step 5. Print a test photo on a professional printer

Choose a photo taken in daylight of a natural-skinned person and print it with the highest quality settings and top-quality, glossy photo paper. Let the print dry for a few hours in a dark place, so that the colors set permanently.

Part 2 of 2: Calibrating your computer display


Step 1. Adjust the contrast and brightness of your display

The buttons for this can usually be found at the bottom of your screen, or in the display menu. Search online for a calibration test screen.

A free calibration tool can be found here

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 7

Step 2. Open the image file you just printed

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 8

Step 3. Hold the printout next to the original on the screen and compare


Step 4. Adjust the monitor's brightness, contrast, and color levels (red, green, blue) so that the print and image on the screen resemble each other as closely as possible

This takes some time and requires a good eye for color. Continue to the next step if you want to use software to calibrate the monitor.

Calibrate Your Monitor Step 10

Step 5. Use standard software, such as Adobe Gamma (if you have Adobe Photoshop 7 or earlier), QuickGamma (for free), Apple ColorSync, or Monica for Linux, to calibrate the display.

  • To access Adobe Gamma, click "Start," "Settings" and "Control Panel."
  • For all software, follow the step-by-step instructions to calibrate. This provides you with a standard calibration for the casual Photoshop user, who doesn't need to print a lot of photos.
Calibrate Your Monitor Step 11

Step 6. If color is vital to your work, purchase special software, along with a colorimeter (a device that reads the actual color values ​​produced by your monitor)

Some calibration systems are worth thinking about:

  • SpectraCal's CalMAN RGB
  • ColorVision Spyder 3 Pro
  • ColorVision Color Plus (excellent for home use)
  • Monaco Systems MonacoOPTIX
  • Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Display.
Calibrate Your Monitor Step 12

Step 7. Calibrate your display every 2 to 4 weeks for optimal visual accuracy


  • Ask a professional to calibrate your display if you're not completely comfortable with this idea, or if you're unable to achieve the desired result. Calibration services can be found online.
  • You can also use the auto-calibration button, which is on your monitor.


  • Use only test prints made on real photo paper from a professional photo lab for monitor calibration. It's foolish to waste time calibrating your monitor when it's your printer that you need to do something about. More often the printer will need to be adjusted correctly than the monitor. Do not rely on the prints you make on your own printer. Each brand of printer will show a different color palette. This also applies to different brands of printing paper in the same printer.
  • If you are running Windows Vista, you will lose your ICC(International Color Consortium)/ICM(Image Color Management) profile data as soon as you log out.
  • If you have multiple calibration programs on your computer, make sure they are not running at the same time, otherwise conflicts will arise.

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