This tutorial discusses using the SpyderX Pro to calibrate most desktop screens – that is, screens which have buttons and menus to control contrast, brightness and colour.

Before you begin, please make sure you’ve read this article first.

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Not your first time?

If you have previously successfully calibrated with this device, and now you just need to do the monthly recalibration, jump straight to the Monthly Recalibration section on this page.  But if this is your first time, read on …

Part 1: Screen setup

Warm up

Make sure your screen has been turned on for at least half an hour before starting this process.

Light

Make sure you’re in good light. Viewing prints in dim light is a futile exercise. It needs to be bright enough, and white enough. Read this if you haven’t already done so.

Reset to factory defaults (first time only)

When you’re getting ready to calibrate for the very first time, you need to search the screen’s menu to find the setting that puts everything back to its starting point. Every screen is different, so I can’t tell you exactly where to find this function, but trust me, it’ll be there somewhere. It might be called “Reset Screen Defaults” or “Restore Factory Settings”, or something like that. You get the idea.

(When you’re doing subsequent monthly calibrations, this reset step shouldn’t be necessary. But never say never – some screens may need that “kick in the pants” each time, if they won’t recalibrate easily.)

Move the OSD

On some screens, the OSD (on-screen display, ie the menu) is right in the middle by default. That’s no good, of course, because that’s where the calibration needs to take place.

Somewhere in the menus will be the controls for the OSD’s position. Find them, and move it over to the left side of your screen if possible.

Adjust brightness to match prints

Compare your prints to your screen, and adjust the screen’s brightness to get an acceptable match. Remember, don’t hold the print close to the screen – it must be out to the side, so you have to turn your head to compare.

Please don’t agonise over this brightness step. Near enough is good enough.

If you’ve never adjusted the brightness of your screen before, it’s likely to seem horribly dim to you at first. Don’t worry, you’ll be used to it in no time at all, and you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated it so bright before.

Choose best colour setting

With your prints still in hand, it’s now time to find the best colour setting that your monitor offers. All monitors will have at least two or three colour presets – they’ll be called “Warm”, “Normal” & “Cool”, or “6500K”, “7500K” & “9300K”, or something like that. Most will also have a “Custom” or “User RGB” setting, but ignore that one for now.

Pick the setting which matches your prints the best. If you’re in the lucky minority, you might find one that gives a really good match. But most of us simply have to accept the closest available setting, even if it doesn’t look perfect. Don’t worry, the calibration process will do the rest.

Part 2: Install software

Calibrators no longer ship with disks. That’s fine, because the disks always used to be out of date before we got them anyway.

So when you open the box, the first thing you see is a notice to visit the DataColor website to download the software. On that page you’ll see a video, which I encourage you to watch, because it will demonstrate the installation process.

I don’t anticipate you’ll run into any problems during this process. You’ll be guided through download, installation, plugging in the device, entering the serial number, and activating the software. Finally, the software will launch for you, in readiness for your first calibration.


Part 3: Setup

Preferences

As soon as the software launches, choose Preferences from the File menu:

Make sure the Recal warning is set for “1 Month”. “Check for software updates” should be turned on by default. “Share calibration data” is up to you.

Then click the “Advanced Settings” button.

Check the box that says “Show RGB sliders”, then click the “ICC Settings” button:

Make sure the ICC is set to Version 2:

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Press OK a bunch of times to get back to the main welcome screen.

Welcome

On the main Welcome screen, you can check all four boxes, because we already discussed these issues at the beginning of this article:

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If this isn’t your first time running the software, those checkboxes might not even be there at all! It seems to only ask you to check them on the very first time. That’s weird, but whatever.

When you’ve ticked all four boxes, press Next:

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Display Type

Choose “Desktop” here, of course:

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SPECIAL NOTE: On every screen, on the right-hand side, there’s a handy help panel. It’s great, and if you want even more in-depth explanation, you can click on the link at the bottom:

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Their help really is helpful, I’m very impressed with it.

Make and Model

As far as I can tell, this screen is only relevant if you chose to share your calibration data with DataColor. Anyway, go ahead and enter your computer’s details:

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Calibration Settings

This is the part where you tell the software what your screen can and can’t do.  I hope that your screen has all of these controls, so tick all the boxes:

(After this you’ll get a warning window about the risks of messing about with the RGB sliders.  Don’t worry, we’ll tread carefully.)

The next step is important, so make your decision wisely. I would say that the majority of screens out there in the world are “Standard LED”, but yours might be different.  Google for details about your screen if necessary.

At the next screen you’ll probably get a stupid pop-up with this stupid message:

You must never let a calibration device try to compensate for your room light.  If there is a problem with your room light, fix it, don’t compensate for it.  Click “Don’t show again” then “OK” to make this stupid message go away.

Choose “FullCal” on this screen …

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… then hit “Change Settings”:

This screen is the hub of the whole operation:

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The Gamma must remain on 2.2:

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For now, choose Do Not Adjust for the White Point:

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This is where it gets confusing Even though you’ve already adjusted the brightness, choose Adjust here:

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No confusion with this one. Leave it off:

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… aaaaaaand press Next:

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The next screen asks you to set your monitor’s colour preset. I think this step comes too late in the process; that’s why I asked you to do it way back at the beginning, when you chose the one that most closely matched your prints. So don’t do anything here, just press Next:

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