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Measuring your screen resolution

From: Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features

Video: Measuring your screen resolution

I've opened an image that's available to those of you who have access to these things. It's called screenresolution.tif. Now if you don't have access to the image, no big deal frankly, because you are going to be seeing it here, big and beautiful, on the video. So I am going to press Shift+F to switch to the Full Screen view, so that we can see all of this diagram. It's telling you how to measure your screen resolution. Again, you'll need measuring tape or ruler or what have you, some measuring device, and you also need the calculator. That's it, just those two physical devices you need.

Measuring your screen resolution

I've opened an image that's available to those of you who have access to these things. It's called screenresolution.tif. Now if you don't have access to the image, no big deal frankly, because you are going to be seeing it here, big and beautiful, on the video. So I am going to press Shift+F to switch to the Full Screen view, so that we can see all of this diagram. It's telling you how to measure your screen resolution. Again, you'll need measuring tape or ruler or what have you, some measuring device, and you also need the calculator. That's it, just those two physical devices you need.

You can even use a calculator included with your computer. Fine by me. And we also have a diagram of a MacBook Pro. And so I'm imagining that I'm using a MacBook Pro. That's the kind of laptop that I use. It's sitting right here next to me. Obviously, I'm filming on a Windows Vista machine. So there's just certain amount of irony there, but we are going to pretend, for the sake of this exercise, that this is the computer that I'm using. Here is how it works. Notice it says, right here at the top, "Screen Resolution = 1/4 to 1/2 Print Resolution." That's just a fact.

So screen resolution varies all over the place. A lot of folks will tell you that screen resolution is 72 pixels per inch, that that's the standard screen resolution. If an expert or an authority tells you any such thing, never listen to another thing they say, because the fact of the matter is that has not been the case for roughly 20 years. Those of you who've use Macintosh computers, your original Macs, those little 128ks, and 512ks, and SEs and Classics, and all those guys, the little boxes.

Those were 72 pixels per inch. There hasn't been a computer like that since. So there is no such thing as a 72 pixel per inch screen, even though a lot of applications make that assumption, iTunes for example. If you copy an image from Photoshop, paste it in iTunes. You've got a copy and past it at 72 ppi, or it's going to get very small on you. Same with Microsoft Word, has a tendency to do that. Photoshop assumes 72 pixels per inch. So it's this myth that has just lived on and on even though it's nowhere near true. Anyway, I am just stipulating what it says in this first sentence here, "The days of 72 pixel per inch, PPI," very important screens, "are long gone." "Assuming default settings," that is that you're taking full advantage of your monitor.

You're not using a lower resolution. Then "modern monitors have resolutions of approximately 96 to 120 ppi." That's a heck of a lot higher than 72. So it's 96 on the low end. 120 on the high end. That is approximately. There are ways to have lower monitor resolutions from that. You can choose a lower resolution, for example, from your Display Settings. And there are screens out there with higher resolutions, potentially. You never know what's going to come down the pike. This is pretty high though. 120 is pretty high. Now then, the MacBook Pro operates at a default resolution of 1680x1050 pixels.

So there is some math for you. We'll come to the math in a second, but what you need to do with that measuring device that you have, you need to measure your screen. Now the MacBook Pro is well-known. My MacBook Pro has 17 inch LCD screen. Well that 17 inches isn't going to do us any good. It's a 17 inch diagonal measurement. Now you might be able to go to your monitor vendor's website and look up your model of monitor and find out exactly what the width and height measurements are, because that's what we need. But that's not necessarily the case.

And if you have to spend too much time doing that, it's easier just to measure it yourself. And I have run into lots of screens that I cannot find that information about. So here's what you do. You measure the width of your screen. That's where I want you to start, with the width. And round it off to the nearest 10th of an inch if you can. And you want this width right here. You want the width of the imageable area, which I'm tracing right there. You don't want the black, because that's of no use to you. You're not seeing that area. The image has to fit into this region here, and you don't want the panel either.

You don't want any of that other junk. You just want the physical imageable area of the monitor right there. So go ahead and measure that. Then what you do is you take the width in pixels of your Display settings, so 1680, and you divide it by the inches, because after all we are looking for a measurement that's pixel per inch, and per means divide. So we need the number of pixels, and we are going to divide that by the number of inches. So you take, in my case, 1680 divided by 14.4, and you get the resolution 117 pixels per inch, and I'm rounding up. It's actually 116.67.

Don't care. I am going to round it to the nearest pixel. I've got to do that. And so I come up with 117. Then just to make sure, you rerun the equation with the height, so you measure the height of your monitor, and then you take the height of the screen in pixels, at the current Display Settings, it's very important to use the Current Display setting, the ones that are at work at any given time, and you divide, in this case, 1050 by 9, and what you get, if you were to run that equation. You'd get 116.67 pixels per inch once again, so 117.

Now, with an LCD screen you are likely to get exactly the same values. You should. If you're using a CRT screen, meaning one of those big monitors with the tube and everything else that takes up a ton of room on your desk and weighs 100 pounds. If you're using one of those, then it's very possible that you'll get different measurements. And if you do get different measurements, I want you to use the lower of the two resolution values. So use the lower one. And armed with that information, I want you to go ahead and write that screen resolution down, and then I'll tell you what to do with it. We are going to enter it into Photoshop, so Photoshop is aware of your screen resolution and everything is going to be hunky-dory from then on. And you'll learn how in the next exercise.

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Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features

13 video lessons · 12256 viewers

Deke McClelland
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