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Lesson 1. Getting to Know the Work Area > Calibrating your monitor

Calibrating your monitor

Whether preparing artwork for print or online use, you should begin by calibrating your monitor. This will ensure the closest possible match between your colors on-screen and those produced by a printer, a video display, or another computer monitor, and also between your colors in Illustrator and in other software applications. If your monitor isn't calibrated, the resulting colors may not even be close to what you originally saw on it.

Creating an ICC monitor profile

Your monitor will display color more reliably if you use color management and accurate ICC profiles. The Adobe Gamma™ utility, which is automatically installed into your Control Panels folder, lets you calibrate and characterize your monitor to a standard and then save the settings as an ICC-compliant profile available to any program that uses your color management system. This calibration helps eliminate any color cast in your monitor, make the monitor grays as neutral as possible, and standardize image display across monitors.

Although Adobe Gamma is an effective calibration and profiling utility, hardware-based utilities are more precise. If you have a hardware-based utility that can generate an ICC-compliant profile, you should use that instead of Adobe Gamma.

Depending on your workflow scenario, an ICC monitor profile can be either a source profile or a destination profile, or both.


Adobe Gamma can characterize, but not calibrate, monitors used with Windows NT. In addition, the ICC profile you create with Adobe Gamma can be used as the system-level profile in Windows NT. Its ability to calibrate settings in Windows 98 depends on the video card and video driver software. In such cases, some calibration options documented here may not be available.

–From online Help and the Adobe Illustrator User Guide, Chapter 7

To calibrate your monitor with Adobe Gamma, do the following:

Make sure that your monitor has been turned on for at least a half hour to stabilize the monitor display.

Set the room lighting at the level you plan to maintain.

Turn off any desktop patterns and change the background color on your monitor to a neutral gray. This prevents the background color from interfering with your color perception and helps you adjust the display to a neutral gray. (For more on how to do this, refer to the manual for your operating system.)

Set your monitor to display thousands of colors or more.

Launch the Adobe Gamma utility:

  • In Windows, double-click Adobe Gamma in Program Files > Common Files > Adobe > Calibration.

  • In Mac OS, from the Apple® Menu, choose Control Panels > Adobe Gamma.

Click to reflect one of the following options:

  • Step by Step (Assistant) and click Next for a version of the utility that will guide you through each step of the process. This version is recommended if you're inexperienced creating color profiles. If you choose this option, follow the instructions described in the utility.

  • Control Panel and click Next for a version of the utility that is contained in a single dialog box. This version is recommended if you have experience creating color profiles.

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