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How to calibrate an external display on macOS

MacBooks can work with external displays, but unless you’re using an Apple display, you are highly unlikely to get the same colors on it as you do on your internal screen. That said, Apple isn’t the only company that makes a good monitor. There are plenty of great external monitors that you can use with a MacBook.

If you’ve connected an external display to your MacBook and it looks washed out, you might benefit from calibrating it.

Calibrating external display

To calibrate an external display on macOS, follow the steps below.

  1. Connect the display to your MacBook. Make sure it is detected, i.e., your desktop is displayed on it.
  2. Open the System Preferences app.
  3. Go to the Display preference on the last row.
  4. Go to the Display preference window that is open on the external screen. Ignore the one that is open on the internal screen.
  5. Go to the Colour tab.
  6. You will see multiple color profiles. You can select any one of them though it’s best to select one that is supported by the monitor. Click the Calibrate button.
  7. Follow the on-screen steps. You only need to stop and provide input for the White Point step. You can leave it set to the native point, or you can change it to a higher or lower value.
  8. Enter a name for the new profile, and the display will be calibrated.

Undo display calibration

A display calibration may or may not leave you with better colors on the screen. If the calibration has made things worse, you can undo it by selecting a different color profile.

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Go to the Display preference on the last row.
  3. Select the Display window that opens on the external screen.
  4. Go to the Colour tab.
  5. Look at the profiles in the Display Profile column and select the profile that was created when you calibrated the display.
  6. Click Delete Profile.
  7. Alternatively, just select a different profile from the ones listed.


Apple’s displays are hard to compete with, but that doesn’t mean no one is trying. HP makes some excellent displays, as do Samsung and Dell have a few models that can perform just as well. It’s hard to say that there are many displays out there that are better than what an iMac or a MacBook has, but you do not have to buy a $5000 display just to get a good-looking screen.

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