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What Should I Know About Monitor Calibration?

Nychole Price
Nychole Price

Many people seem to think that when their computer screen is fuzzy, or out of focus, it is time to buy a new monitor. Usually, that is not the case. Over time, with the addition of hardware or software, the computer monitor becomes misaligned. Monitor calibration is a simple thing to do that will fix most problems with the computer screen.

When the color seems off on a computer screen, it is usually due to the color profile. For a monitor to display the optimum color preferences, it must be in high color, or 24-bit mode. Monitor calibration involves changing the color profile under the "Graphic Properties" menu. You can quickly access this menu by right-clicking on your desktop.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Some computer monitors, such as those made by Gateway, come equipped with an auto-calibration tool on their monitors. To access this feature, open up the program and select the wizard. The wizard will prompt you to select the brightness, contrast, focus, resolution and position that appeals to you.

Minute adjustments in your computer monitor can be made using the contrast and brightness controls, usually found on the front of the monitor, near the bottom of the screen. Refer to your manual if you are unable to locate the controls, as it varies by model. Before performing this monitor calibration feature, make sure to close your curtains or blinds to prevent glare from the sunlight.

If you have Adobe® Photoshop® installed on your computer, you can perform a complete monitor calibration using Adobe® Gamma. To access Adobe® Gamma, click on your "Start" menu and select "Settings." Open the control panel and select "Adobe Gamma." Follow the prompts to calibrate your monitor.

Those who are computer-savvy can perform monitor calibration using an ICC profile. In order to create an ICC profile, you will need to purchase a profiling package. The package usually contains a measurement instrument, a test target and a software program. The software will display color patches that you can then print out and measure.

Monitor calibration services are available for people who aren't comfortable making adjustments to the monitor on their own. These services are a lot less expensive than buying a new monitor and will extend the life of the current one. Companies such as the Geek Squad provide monitor calibration services and will also educate the owners on how to perform the calibration themselves.

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Discussion Comments


@SkyWhisperer - I don’t encourage any kind of eyeball estimates when it comes to calibrating your monitor.

If you are comparing the screen image to a photograph, then I would definitely recommend that you use Adobe Gamma.

Some people have Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is not the full blown Photoshop, just a streamlined version of it (one that’s less expensive too). I don’t know if Gamma is bundled with Elements but it’s worth a look.


Color monitor calibration is especially important if you do video editing like I do. One time I had a friend come over and we did some shooting together.

The footage through the viewfinder looked great. But when we imported it into the computer it started to look a little dark. So in the video editing software we brightened it up a little, until it looked good on the computer.

Then we exported it back to the digital camcorder and out to the television set. We were shocked at what we saw! The footage was oversaturated. We had brightened it too much in the video editing software.

Clearly, the monitor and the camera were not properly calibrated. Since I needed to sync up the monitor and the camcorder, I bought a separate software package that synced up both devices and the next round of videos looked much better.

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