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Configuring the Monitor

Windows lets you adjust your display hardware with these settings:

Screen resolution is the amount (fineness) of detail in your screen's image, expressed in pixels wide by pixels high. (A pixel is the smallest building block of the display.) Conventional screens have resolutions of 640 x 480 (largely useless except in emergencies), 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, and 1152 x 864. High-end monitors support much higher resolutions.

Color quality ranges from 16 ugly colors for archaic Standard VGA to 4 billion colors (32 bits per pixel) for the best monitors and video cards. The number of colors available correlates to your resolution setting—most video cards display fewer colors at higher resolutions—so you may have to reduce resolution to get higher color quality. The available resolution and color choices adjust automatically. If your digital photos look blotchy, increase the color quality.

Refresh rate is the frequency at which the screen is redrawn to maintain a steady image. Higher refresh rates yield less flicker. A refresh rate below 72 hertz, or 72 times per second, can tire your eyes if you look at the screen too long.

Color matching ensures that colors are represented accurately and consistently across color printers, scanners, cameras, monitors, and programs. Without color management, onscreen and printed colors may vary: Orange can appear brown, green can appear blue, and so on. Graphic designers love color matching because it does away with trial and error in resolving color differences. Color matching requires a separate color profile (.icm file) for each device connected to your computer. This profile conveys the device's color characteristics to the color management system every time colors are scanned, displayed, or printed.

To set screen resolution and color quality:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Personalization > Display Settings (Figure 4.15).

    Figure 4.15

    Figure 4.15 Increasing the number of pixels displays more information on your screen, but icons and text get smaller.


    Right-click an empty area of the desktop and choose Personalize > Display Settings.

  2. Drag the Resolution slider to set the display size.
  3. From the Colors drop-down list, choose the number of colors.

    Choose 16-bit or higher color; otherwise, photographic images will appear grainy (dithered).

  4. Click Apply.

    Your screen turns black briefly and refreshes with the new settings.

  5. After your settings change, you have 15 seconds to accept the changes (Figure 4.16).
    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 If your new screen settings look good, click Yes; otherwise, click No or just wait to revert to your previous settings.

To set the refresh rate:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Personalization > Display Settings > Advanced Settings > Monitor tab (Figure 4.17).

    Figure 4.17

    Figure 4.17 To reduce eyestrain, choose the highest refresh rate that your monitor and video card support, but check the documentation or the manufacturer's website to find out what the hardware will accept.


    Right-click an empty area of the desktop and choose Personalize > Display Settings > Advanced Settings > Monitor tab.

  2. If you have multiple monitors, in the Monitor Type section, select the monitor that you're working with currently.
  3. In the Monitor Settings section, choose a refresh rate from the drop-down list.
  4. Click Apply.

    Your screen turns black briefly.

  5. After your refresh rate changes, you have 15 seconds to accept the change (refer to Figure 4.16).

To manage color profiles:

  1. Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Personalization > Display Settings > Advanced Settings > Color Management tab > Color Management button > Devices tab (Figure 4.18).

    Figure 4.18

    Figure 4.18 The profiles list shows all color profiles associated with the current monitor and video card (none, in this case, which is fine for most people and everyday use).


    Right-click an empty area of the desktop and choose Personalize > Display Settings > Advanced Settings > Color Management tab > Color Management button > Devices tab.

  2. To add a color profile, click Add; then use the Associate Color Profile dialog box to select a color profile to associate with the current monitor (Figure 4.19).

    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19 Color profiles installed with a monitor and video card are stored in the folder \Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color.


    To remove a profile, select it and click Remove.


    To set a profile as the default for the current monitor, select it and click Set As Default Profile.

  3. Click OK in each open dialog box.

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