You’ve sorted through holiday snaps in iPhoto and are ready to print them out. But the results aren’t quite what you see on the screen – perhaps they’re too dark, or washed out. Recognise this scenario? Then it’s time to think about calibrating your monitor.

Regular monitor calibration makes sure that the images you see on screen are as close to the colours described in the original file. And it’s the file that gets sent to your printer, not what you see on screen.

The process is fairly simple. You need to adjust your monitor then run a wizard on your Mac to build a display profile. Here’s a step-by-step guide to gaining optimum colour results.

1. Factory Reset  Before you start, make sure your monitor’s onboard settings are set to the default standard. If you’ve previously fiddled with your monitor’s brightness or lighting controls, look in your manual (check the manufacturer’s website if you no longer have it) and perform a factory reset. Then leave your display to warm up for an hour.

2. Manual Calibration  Ready to go? Your Mac includes tools for setting the calibration of your monitor manually.  Go to System Preferences > Displays and the Colour tab, then click “Calibrate”. There are two modes standard and expert. Leave the wizard in standard mode and go to setup.

3. Maximum Contrast  You’ll have to fiddle with your monitor controls again first. Follow the instructions and increase your onboard display controls to maximum contrast, then adjust the brightness until the two halves of the grey square look the same. Then click “Continue”.

4. Setting Gamma  In the next test, you’ll slide the control until the Apple logo and the background are of a similar hue. Squinting really does work here. Click “Continue”. You’re advised to choose a target gamma of 2.2 - the PC gamma standard. From Snow Leopard onwards, that’s now Apple’s current recommended screen gamma too.