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How to Calibrate Your Monitor – FREE

Category: Color, Photoshop, Review, Video
Apr 24

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Make Sure Your Images Look Amazing ALL the Time

This is the solution to all those times you saw your images on someone else’s computer and they looked totally different. Today I’ll show you the easiest and cheapest way to fix color and brightness issues on a Mac using software that comes with your computer. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing the expensive hardware unless you are doing a lot of printing, if you are it may be worth it in the long run to save on ink supplies.

Episode Timeline

  • 0:30- Why you should calibrate your computer
  • 1:45- Starting with system preferences
  • 2:00- Color of background and brightness
  • 2:25- Resolution
  • 3:30- Calibration assistant
  • 8:00- Checking the difference with an edited image
  • 8:35- Editing on a laptop vs. desktop
  • 8:50- Readjusting our settings

Which Programs to Use

There are a few different site you can download from for free that may give better results. Here are some of the best reviewed:

You can also purchase hardware. These are more expensive but if you are doing a lot of printing they are probably worth it.

Don’t forget about this week’s contest

We are accepting entries until MONDAY for t-shirt designs. Check out yesterday’s episode for all of the info!

  • http://twitter.com/Dockettphoto Bryan Dockett

    I color calibrated my monitor using color corrected prints of my images. :)

  • 78910j

    I used the Spyder3 Elite on my Mac Book Pro and it clearly gave everything a purple tint. I then tried it out on a PC and it worked just fine.

  • Rockerpin

    Why you aaron always do the right episode the right day ? today i complained to my boyfriend about his monitor, that my pictures dont look right on it :D Thanks again!

  • Fredrik

    I really don’t get this. If you first say that you want to check your calibration so your images don’t look wrong and then say that you have to calibrate it with your own images, how is THAT going to help me? There is no way of beeing sure that your screen is calibrated or not. Maybe all your pictures are wrong already due to the fact that your monitor always have been “off”. Then the calibration does you nothing. 

    The best thing have to be to calibrate with a calibrated printout. And perhaps aswell with another calibrated monitor, and/or a hardware calibrator like the Spyder or something like that.To sit and “blur your eyes” and guess how it’s supposed to look can’t be any good at all?
    I’ve struggled for a long time to calibrate my screens in many ways and your tips did me nothing I must say :/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Macxs-Oppici/100001165439043 Macxs Oppici

    I work on my images with a PC and print at home with my inkjet. For years i tried to calibrate monitor with my eyes with some software, every time i thought “i got it!” and every time i found that for some images all were ok, but for others no. When enough was enough, i bought a Datacolor kit called Spyder 3 Studio.
    It’s a box that contains a Spyder 3 Elite for monitor and a Spyder 3 Print for inkjet (or printer in general).
    A great buy, problem solved and ask to myself why i waited so long!

    The problem in using our eyes to calibrate color is that our brain compensate dinamically what we see and i think is almost impossible to do a good job in that way.

  • Mark

    Another vote for separate hardware/software calibration.  Makes the workflow so simple and takes all the guess work out of it.  I have an entire wall of photos that were printed on various material with no color adjustments made by the various print companies.  They look exactly the same as displayed on my monitors. 

  • Wes

    Maybe the glass was causing reflections and incorrect readings?

  • http://ingrained.co.uk Scott Mains

    I use the i1 Pro. Mainly for large format printing, I calibrate the printer to the paper, as each paper has different qualities. I also use it for monitor calibration, even on my 13 inch MBP the colours are phenomenal once profiled. 

    I would however recommend (to all future buyers of mac laptop products) to have the optional matte screen as the reflective glass can shift colour slightly, and it is also a pain for glare and reflections. 

    Regular profiling is also recommended (about once a month), for most people who are getting into it the spyders are great and cheaper than the i1. 

    I have clients that request a colour managed workflow and using these tools make the difference in getting commissions as opposed to not. I would also add that using a greytag macbeth colour checker, or a grey card to ensure perfect white balance when taking photographs will make all of the above worth it. 

  • http://ingrained.co.uk Scott Mains

    wouldn’t be the reflections giving a bad calibration. The ambient light around it, and the positioning of the unit on the monitor will play a difference in how well it calibrates. Re-try it in a darkened room and have the screen set to just under 1/2 brightness setting and dead centre within the display. Should fix it better. 

  • http://www.flickr.com/uw-eric Eric Burgers

    I have the spyder as well, on a PC. I noticed a greenish cast, barely visible. The photos come out ok, though….

  • Kenny Kivett

    i used the spyder 3 express and it made a HUGE improvement on my PC

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ahtziri-Lagarde/774731143 Ahtziri Lagarde

    You are awesome, Aaron :)

  • http://jpetronephotography.carbonmade.com/ Jenna Petrone

    Thank you Aaron! I really needed to learn this!

  • Randell

    Calibrating a laptop is a pretty pointless exercise, most laptops including the Mac Book Pro’s don’t have the full colour gamut that a full size monitor has, as they use different graphic cards. This helps to keep their cost down (Although this isn’t true in the case Apples Laptops – Madly expensive).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sylvia-Vale/612704789 Sylvia Vale

    Aaron, you messed up your gray BG selection in the beginning. You didn’t choose the medium gray but the Solid Aqua Graphite. Doesn’t that mess up the whole calibration?

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