How to Calibrate a Monitor for Photoshop


Accurate color calibration on computer monitors is important to photographers and graphic artists for consistent color in the image and the print or other final product. Calibrating a monitor for color management in Photoshop can be done using Adobe Gamma. Monitors have a black point, white point and gamma. Adobe Gamma creates an ICC profile of the calibrated monitor. This profile is then used to set color preferences in Photoshop. This ensures all devices (computer, monitor and printer) use the same color profile for consistent color.


  • Set up the lighting in the room to model lighting that is consistently used.

  • Turn on the monitor and let it warm up for at least 30 minutes. This will ensure a more accurate color reading.

  • Remove any older versions of Adobe Gamma if you are using Windows. Make sure only the latest version of Adobe Gamma is installed.

  • Put a neutral gray background on the computer monitor. Colorful pictures and distracting graphics will interfere with color perception.


  • Choose "Start>Settings>Control Panel" for Windows users. Double-click "Display" and click the "Settings" tab. The monitor should be set to display thousands of colors. Close the window. Click on the "Adobe Gamma" icon in the Control Panel. This opens the Adobe Gamma Wizard.

    For Mac users, choose "Finder>Preferences" and double click "Display." Make sure the Colors drop down menu is set to Millions. Highlight the monitor profile under Display Profile. Click the "Color" tab and then the "Calibrate" button. This opens the Display Calibrator Assistant. For Mac OS 8 and OS 9, the Calibration Assistant is built into the Monitors control panel.

  • Check the "Expert Mode." This turns on extra options. Windows users will need to load a starting ICC profile. The monitor will be listed in the "Description" area on the Control Panel. If the monitor is not listed, click the "Load" button and locate the monitor in the list of profiles.

  • Set the contrast on the monitor to the highest point.

  • Set the brightness. There will be a square with lines with a solid graphic (a square on Windows and an apple on Mac) in the center. Move the sliders until the graphic matches the background. Squinting helps the eyes to focus on the brightness more than the shape of the graphic. Mac OSX users will have five of these squares to set. This will set all the luminance response curves.

  • Select the Phosphor Data if you are using Mac OS 8, OS 9 or Windows. Select the type listed for the monitor. If the type is not listed, the monitor manual will have the chromaticity coordinates. Choose “Custom” and enter the coordinates for red, green and blue chromaticity.

  • Set the midtone brightness if you are using Mac OS 8, OS 9 or Windows. Blend the center shape until it is no longer visible.

  • Select the target gamma. Windows default is 2.2 and Mac is 1.8. Windows NT will not have this option.

  • Set the white point. If the white point is known, it can be set here. Otherwise, click “Measure.” Three squares will come up on the monitor. Click on the most neutral gray color. With Mac OSX there will be a slider with color temperatures. It is best to choose the native white point unless a particular temperature is desired.

  • Name and save the ICC profile.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images
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