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How to Calibrate Your Monitor in Windows and OS X

Most people never bother calibrating their monitors because everything looks fine when they first set it up and so they just stick with it. I’ve done this many times too, but recently I tried to calibrate my monitor and found it looks much better than what I’m used to.

Windows 7, 8, 10, and Mac OS X have built-in wizards to help you calibrate your monitor so it isn’t too bright or too dark. For me, my monitors were always very bright and I started using a third party program called f.lux that adjusts the color of the monitor at night.

Once I calibrated my monitors, I didn’t need to use f.lux as often, even at night. Besides brightness, after calibration the colors on the screen looked better. In this article, I will walk you through how to calibrate your display on Windows and Mac.

Display Calibration – Windows

To launch the Calibration Wizard in Windows, click Start and type calibrate. You can also get there by going to Control Panel, clicking on “Display” and then clicking on “Calibrate Color” in the left menu.

This will launch the Display Color Calibration Wizard. Go ahead and click Next to start the first step. The first thing it asks you to do is open your display menu and reset your color settings to factory defaults. In my case, I just reset my entire monitor to factory settings because I didn’t know which settings I had already changed. If you are using a laptop, just follow each step.

Click Next and first you will need to adjust the gamma. Typically, in all steps you need to align the screen with the center image, which is considered the best setting. It also shows you settings too high and too low for you to see clearly when you’ve changed too much.

Note that when you try to adjust the slider in a Windows program, the monitor may revert to its own default settings. Most of these settings need to be changed through the on-screen display of the monitor itself, rather than using a program (unless you are calibrating the laptop display). You just use the program to make sure the image looks good.

For example, here is a picture of my Acer monitor and on-screen settings that can be changed. In my case, I had to adjust the gamma value from this OSD because it didn’t allow me to change it using the slider in Windows.

After the gamma, you will need to adjust the brightness to distinguish the shirt from the suit and make it so that the X is barely visible in the background. You can skip brightness and contrast for laptop screens.

Next comes the contrast. Again, adjust the setting on your monitor. For contrast, you want to set it as high as possible before the shirt buttons start to fade.

The next screen will help you adjust the color balance. This is where you want to make sure all stripes are gray and no other colors. Newer monitors will take care of this, and if you try to adjust the sliders, the monitor will just reset to defaults, so you can just skip this part if this happens to you.

Once you are done, the calibration is complete. Now you can click Preview and Current to see the difference between what you had before and what it looks like now.

I would also leave the ClearType Tuner checkbox checked before clicking Done. This is another short wizard that will make sure your text is displayed clearly and clearly on your monitor. Basically, you need to go through five screens and choose which text suits you best.

That’s it for Windows monitor calibration. You really don’t need anything between the monitor software and this wizard unless you are a pro, in which case you will probably still have a high-end monitor.

Display Calibration – Mac

For Mac computers, the setup wizard is slightly different from calibration. It also depends on what version of OS X you have. I wrote this article under OS X 10.11.2 EL Capitan, the latest version.

To get started, click on the little Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen and then click on System Preferences.

Then click Displays in the list.

Now go to the Color tab and then click the Calibrate button on the right.

The Display Calibrator Assistant introductory screen opens and guides you through each step.

The Mac wizard is actually pretty smart and will remove all the steps your monitor doesn’t support. For example, I ran this on my MacBook Pro laptop and the only thing I could do was set the target white point. It missed out on brightness / contrast, native brightness response curve and gamma curve. If you have an external display connected to your Mac, you get other options.

For the target white point, you can use the origin white point for your display, or adjust it manually by unchecking the box first. I found that the native white point gives a better color cast to the display than what was installed when the OS was installed.

I didn’t have an external display for my Mac, so I couldn’t get other options like brightness, gamma, etc., but you can probably figure it out by going through the wizard. The Administrator step simply asks if you want to make this color profile available to other users or not, and the Name step lets you give the new profile a name.

The summary screen will give you some technical information about the current color settings for your display. OS X also has another tool called ColorSync Utility that allows you to repair color profiles, view all profiles, and calculate RGB values ??for any pixel on the screen. Just click Spotlight and enter ColorSync to download it.

As I said earlier, most people never bother calibrating their monitors because most of them do their job pretty well by default. However, if you’re picky about how things look on screen, it’s worth a try. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. Enjoy!

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