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5 Signs It’s Time to Calibrate Your Monitor

These signs show that you should calibrate your monitor.

New monitors come with factory calibration, but the settings can change over time. If you’re a professional, you can calibrate your monitor regularly. However, this is not something you’ll do every day. It would help if you looked out for signs to find the right time to calibrate your monitor.

Monitor calibration is not something you think of, especially if you’re not a creative visual professional. However, it’s crucial to set your monitor at the correct values even if you know nothing about prints and colors. This way, you appreciate content when it’s displayed in the right way.

You don’t have to purchase equipment and software to check the monitor’s color accuracy. Instead, look out for these signs.

  1. A Washed-Out View

A new monitor shows vibrant colors, but this may change with time. The first indicator is a washed-out effect on the printout pictures that look normal on the monitor. This indicates wrong vibrancy and an immediate need for calibration.

  • Oversaturation

Like in the washed-out view, oversaturation means the printed image and what appears on the monitor are different. The image on the monitor looks okay, but the printout is lifeless and bland.

Oversaturation is primarily evident in pictures with vivid colors like dark reds or bright greens. The uncalibrated monitor will deceive your view only to find the printout looking like it’s been sitting under the sun for decades.

  • Color Banding

If you don’t print pictures from your computer, the color banding sign will help you know if it’s time to calibrate your monitor. This effect occurs when the display’s ingredients are incorrect. Check whether the monitor shows shades of color instead of a smooth transition between colors across the screen.

  • Screen Overexposure

When a screen is overexposed, the brightness level is too high. In this case, you can miss some details, have an eye strain, or experience an extra glare from the monitor. The experience is somehow similar to a washed-out screen, but the printouts come out dark in screen exposure.

  • A Dull Display

This effect leaves dark sections on your screen, especially when watching movies or playing games. If you come across this effect, it may be time to calibrate the monitor.

The Correct Monitor Calibration

The best way to confirm any signs mentioned above is to pull up pictures with subtle contrast, darkness, and brightness. Below we’ve provided images that you can use as a reference.

Monitor Brightness

Although your eyes can tell the level of your monitor’s brightness, you need a black image to calibrate brightness correctly. The picture below has eight different levels of darkness, with the darkest on the left and the lightest on the right.

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If you want to set your monitor to the correct levels, bring up the image above and set your monitor brightness to number 0. Now move it a notch higher until you see all the eight levels.


Contrast is the balance between darkness and brightness. A monitor with high contrast ratios has more vivid images and better quality. Hence, modern monitor manufacturers boast high ratios, such as the 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio in Apple’s Pro Display XDR. Even with such high ratios, you still need to set the proper contrast ratio for your monitor. If you keep it too high, you may miss details on darker or lighter areas of your monitor. Use the image below to set the proper contrast. Pull up the image on your screen, adjust the contrast to the highest setting, and gradually lower it until all the white boxes below are visibly clear.

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Gamma is more on luminance and voltage, unlike the contrast and brightness settings that you can see with your naked eye. So, you can’t equate a single increase in brightness with a single increase of a pixel.

The image below will help you set your monitor’s ideal gamma levels. The pattern at the center of the image is half black and half white. This makes it half gray and sets the color’s brightness level to half.

Look at the pattern with unfocused eyes or from a distance and see whether it appears plain gray. If the patterns and the solid colors are still distinct, you may have to make the necessary calibration.

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Calibrate Your Monitor

Study the points discussed here to tell whether your monitor is calibrated correctly. If you notice any discrepancies, consider calibrating it using some of the readily available tools.

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