How to calibrate your monitor to make it better for free

Have you ever bought a new monitor and thought it looked a little dull when it came out of the box? It may require calibration. This is a problem that even some of the best monitors face, where their colors are not as rich as they should be, or the monitor may be too bright or sharp.

Calibrating your monitor can fix these problems and more. Here’s how to do it.

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Get ready to calibrate

Before you begin calibrating your monitor, it is important that you prepare it and the space around it.

step 1: Turn on your monitor at least half an hour before calibration so that it can warm up to its normal operating temperature and conditions.

step 2: Set your monitor’s resolution to its original, default screen resolution. Here’s how to do it on Windows and macOS.

step 3: Make sure you are calibrating in a room with moderate ambient lighting. The room doesn’t need to be completely black, but you don’t want harsh glare and colors caused by direct light. If in doubt, open the curtain or light a lamp.

step 4: Familiarize yourself with your monitor’s display controls. They may be located on the monitor, on the keyboard, or within the operating system control panel. Some displays also have their own remote controls. Play around a bit or check out your manufacturer’s website to learn more about how to navigate the calibration menu.

Calibrate using built-in Windows and Mac tools

Both macOS and Windows have built-in calibration tools to help guide you step-by-step through the process, which is especially helpful if you’re new to monitor calibration. If you’re just a casual image hobbyist or working on a limited budget, these free tools should be your first stop. However, keep in mind that adjustments will be limited by display type and model.

Compound terms – gamma, white point, etc. – may seem a little daunting at first glance, but each utility provides a relatively simple explanation of what they all mean. Realistically, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the jargon to calibrate your monitor.

windows display calibration tool

In the latest versions of Windows, the easiest way to find the color calibration tool is through the Windows search bar.

step 1: In Windows 11, type “calibrate” in the Windows search bar and select Calibrate display color From the results. On Windows 10, search for “color calibration” and select the relevant result.

In older versions of Windows, you may find color calibration utility in Display section of control Panelwhich is listed below Appearance and Personalization,

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step 2: Now that you’re in the calibration tool, follow the on-screen instructions to choose your display’s gamma, brightness, contrast, and color balance settings.

There will be a sample image with several settings for you to match. Simply make adjustments to mimic the sample as closely as possible.

step 3: Once the calibration wizard completes, make sure to select current calibration, or return to the previous calibration if you are dissatisfied with the results. The new calibration will be stored as an .ics file, or color calibration file, and will appear as a new International Color Consortium (ICC) profile in the Color Management Settings app.

step 4: The easiest way to open this app is to type “color management” in the search box and select the first result. Once it opens, you can select your monitor from the device list and see which ICC profiles are available.

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MacOS calibration

MacOS also has its own built-in calibration tool. Here’s how to use it to calibrate your monitor.

step 1: In MacOS, display calibrator assistant Located in System Preferences under It shows tab, in Colour Section. If you’re having trouble finding it, try entering calibrate headlines To scan various folders and files on your computer. The results should show an option to open the utility system Preferences Panel.

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step 2: Your Mac’s step-by-step instructions will walk you through the calibration process after you find and open the software utility. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to select:

  • white point:The white point should generally be a standard D50 or D65 point to avoid strange color problems.
  • color adjustment: White point is given, but Apple will attempt to detect your display and offer several other color calibrations at this point… or it may skip the remaining adjustment options altogether. Original Apple displays may be more likely to have low color calibration at this point (since Apple has already calibrated them).
  • administrator access: Only important if you are concerned about others changing your particular color profile.
  • Name: Name the profile something unique so you’ll know it in the future.

step 3: This will create a new color profile for your display. If you couldn’t make the adjustments you wanted to make, select this new profile and choose open profile, This will open a new window with all the tags associated with the color profile and their descriptions.

step 4: You can select each tag to see more information about it. Some tags will only have basic color data, but other tags can be changed to change specific color factors for display.

Step 5: If you have a native display, see Apple displays basic information Tag as a good place to start. As you can see, this can quickly become technical, so you need to know your color data (phosphor values, response curves, etc.) to make accurate changes with this method.

How to Calibrate Your Monitor Calibrate 2

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Calibrate using online tools

There are some web-based calibration tools that help you manually adjust your monitor settings. They may provide more accurate, or more optimized, calibration than built-in utilities.

W4zt Screen Color Test: This simple webpage provides you with several color gradients and grayscale color boxes that you can use for quick comparisons, as well as a handy gamma test that you can run. It’s nice to have so many tests on one page, making this solution great for quick and dirty calibration so you can get moving.

Photo Friday: To adjust your brightness and contrast, Photo Friday has a simple calibration tool that will give you a great reference for your own calibration. It won’t do it for you, but it has all the information you need to get your contrast, gamma and brightness just right.

Flatpanels Online Monitor Tests: Flatpanels range of online monitor tests is extremely comprehensive, including guides and tools to help you calibrate your monitor’s contrast, brightness, various color strengths, gamma, and more.

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Calibrate using colorimeter hardware

Although they are better than more temporary solutions, built-in calibration utilities still have one major drawback: you. Since they rely on your specific color perception, what looks good to you may look good to a friend.

The best way to avoid this problem and ensure that you calibrate your monitor correctly is to purchase a calibrating device. For the best control and accuracy you will need to spend a good amount of money. Still, there are affordable options to help you achieve consistent colors across all your monitors.

If you’re looking for a calibration tool, we recommend either the X-Rite ColorMunky Smile ($99) or the Spider5Elite ($200). Both devices feature a full-spectrum, seven-color sensor that can accurately display a range of standard and wide-gamut displays. If you have a larger budget, you may want to look for a higher-end calibrator that has even more advanced options.

These devices are user-friendly, involving a simple three-step process of attaching the device to your screen, plugging it into a USB port, and opening the calibration software. When the software starts running, you just need to follow the setup process. It’s pretty intuitive, but if you have trouble, you can find tutorials online to help you with it.

Starting at $180, X-Rite’s Color Display Pro is another solid device. Like the Spyder series, each of these three options is configured with automatic calibration software. The more money you spend, the more additional features and other benefits you get from the device.

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