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How to Calibrate your Monitor in 10 Steps

August 20, 2020 by Mark Gundlach

How much time, paper, and ink do you waste re-printing images because the color isn’t right? Before you blame your printer, consider your monitor. When you work on an un-calibrated monitor, you can’t trust the colors you see on-screen, making it hard to make good editing decisions.

Luckily, monitor calibration is a breeze with i1Profiler software. Wizard-based, it walks you through every step in the profiling process. Basic and advanced modes allow you to modify your settings based on your calibration needs. i1Profiler comes with our very affordable i1Display Pro colorimeter and all of our professional spectrophotometers.


Ready to trust your on-screen colors? Here are the ten simple steps you need to follow to calibrate your monitor or laptop display.

How to Calibrate Your Monitor

Before you begin, turn on your display for about 30 minutes so it can warm up.

Make sure to quit any applications that might interfere with the calibration, such as screen savers and e-mail and messaging apps with pop-ups.

If you’re profiling a Mac laptop, make these adjustments in System Preferences:

  • In Displays, turn off Auto-Brightness-Adjustment.
  • In Universal Access, set the Contrast Slider to Normal (left position).
  • In Desktop & Appearance, turn off the Translucent Menu Bar option.
  • In Energy, turn off the Energy Saving options for Laptop Displays.

Let’s profile!

Step One: Get started.

Connect your device to your computer and launch i1Profiler. Select the Basic User Mode on the right, then click the Display Profiling button on the left.


Step Two: Choose your display.

Across the bottom you’ll see your workflow diagram. These are the steps you’ll complete to create your new display profile.


If you have more than one display connected, select the one you would like to calibrate and profile. This will move the software window to the center of the selected display.

Step Three: Select the white point for your profile.


Here’s some guidance.

At the top are the standard CIE Daylight Illuminants. D65 is the choice for most people working in photography and graphics. D50 is commonly used in prepress.

Native will use the white point of the monitor. This setting is for those of you already set the white point of your monitor through some other method (such as the monitor’s menu) and don’t want to change it.

Near the bottom are the options to set custom white point values – either using a Daylight Temperature slider control for values from 5000 to 7500, or entering the xy chromaticity coordinates.

If you’re working in a controlled lighting condition, there is an option to match your monitor’s white point to the measured white point of your ambient light. To take an ambient light measurement, click Measure and follow the prompts.

Step Four: Select the Luminance.


Most LCD users find 120 is bright enough to judge color and detail in highlights and shadows, but if you’re having a hard time seeing details, try selecting a lower value.

Use Native if you don’t want to change your monitor’s luminance value. Custom is available if you want to select any value between 80 and 250.

If you’re using an i1Pro, there is also an option to have the software automatically adjust your display’s luminance to match the ambient room light. Click Measure and follow the prompts.

Click Next.

Check out our blog to learn the difference between luminance, illuminance and brightness. 


Step Five: Prepare your device.

If you see Device Ready, you don’t need to calibrate. If you see Device not calibrated, click the Calibrate button.


Step Six: Set up your display hardware.

Automatic display control takes advantage of a feature that’s available on some displays, allowing the software to access the display’s internal calibration controls. Or, you can choose to adjust your brightness and contrast manually.

Click Start Measurement.

i1profilerbrightnessThe software will prompt you to hang your measuring device on the display. Click Next to continue.

The software will measure your display’s contrast. Use the adjustments on the front panel of your display to bring the indicator to the middle of the green zone and click Next.

The software will measure the display’s brightness. Again, use the controls to bring the indicator to the middle of the green zone to match the luminance settings you selected in the first step. Click Next.

A series of colors will be displayed and measured.


Step Seven: Review the results.

This is a preview of how your monitor performed. The expected values appear in the upper left corner of each patch, and the measured values in the lower right. Click Next.


Step Eight: Name your profile.

Choose a name that includes the name of the monitor and the date if you wish.

If you’re using a Mac, you have the option to select User level to restrict this profile to only you. Select System level if you would like everyone who uses this computer to be able to use the profile.

Click Create and Save Profile.


Step Nine: Compare the before and after.

Once the profile is complete, radio buttons allow you to compare how the image looked before, and after, the calibration.


Other images are available behind the drop-down to help you evaluate your monitor’s colors.

If you’re curious, click the middle Luts button (looks like a graph) to see which calibration adjustments i1 Profiler made to the computer’s video card. This fine-tuning helps match the display to the selected white point and gamma settings.


A gamut view is available by clicking the first button. You can also compare the gamut size of two profiles.


Step Ten: Start editing with confidence!

Your monitor is calibrated, profiled, and displaying accurate colors.

Want to learn more about the basics of managing color? Check out our free Display Profiling eLearning course, a video presentation of this blog. To learn how to expand to a complete color managed workflow, check out our Color Control Freak eLearning.

Featured Solutions to Calibrate Your Monitor

i1Display StudioFor creative perfectionists seeking simplicity, i1Display Studio delivers incredibly consistent color with zero stress so you can focus on doing what you love.

i1Display ProThe perfect combination of unrivaled color precision, speed and controls for the highest level of on-screen color accuracy, including mobile devices and projectors.

i1Display Pro Plus: Ultimate display calibration with advanced options and maximum control for super-bright HD and HDR monitors.

i1Basic Pro 3An affordable, professional-level spectral color measurement solution including display and projector profiling and print quality assurance.


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