I own a Macbook Pro with Retina display. Assuming I'm only interested in displaying photos on the screen, is the Retina display calibrated well enough for colors? If not, which method would you recommend to use?

  • 3
    How could we possibly know this? We have no idea what you used, if anything, to calibrate your display or if you've at least profiled it, in which case it also depends on the software you use to see images.
    – Itai
    Feb 25, 2013 at 14:00
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    Itai, I'd read the question as meaning calibrated out of the box. And for that it is a very valid question. In other words: How good is the calibration of the MBP out of the box and how much could be gained by calibrating it.
    – Unapiedra
    Feb 25, 2013 at 21:08
  • I've tried different presets and Adobe RGB seems to be the best. However, it does not render as good as the images I see in Lightroom. I think Lightroom is somehow doing its own calibration. Everywhere else (browser, Preview, etc...) I don't see the same colors, they are always a little washed out and colder.
    – Bob
    Nov 19, 2016 at 22:36

4 Answers 4


In general, every monitor has subtle differences on them, so if you really need a high-standard calibration, you should do it to your equipment.

There are many softwares you can use to calibrate your monitor. For example, take a look at SpyderElite , for about $170.

  • I'm afraid this doesn't really answer the question. What's "high-standard calibration"? Will the average user looking at their photos on screen notice the difference, or only a small percentage of photographers with a keen eye for color and color management experience? Aug 10, 2015 at 2:55
  • In case a display is designed to be - AND STAY! - REALLY precisely factory calibrated, doesn't inexpertly using external calibrators run the risk of actually making a mess of it? Dec 5, 2018 at 16:02

This is not really a bad question if you aren't already well versed in color management. After all, the Retina display is hyped as a pretty fantastic, beats-the-pants-off-of-everything-else display.

But if all you want to do is look at the pictures on the screen, then you only need to use your own judgement whether you like it or not.

But if you are going to reproduce images as prints, then you are concerned about color management. Any display you use for color management should be calibrated. And it should be calibrated periodically to account for aging and other changes. This includes Retina displays.

You also need to follow other detailed (but easy to implement) color management processes to get what you see on your screen to match what you see in your reproductions.

  • I'm afraid this doesn't really answer the question. "Use your own judgment" isn't an answer. Will an average user (not printing their photos, but looking at them on screen) notice the difference between a factory-calibrated and a self-calibrated display? Aug 10, 2015 at 2:53

Step through the Display preferences built-in color calibration tool, and see what you think from there.

  • I did that, and (after a few months), it seems to be worse than the factory calibration. There's a tinge of pink now. So I'll have to revert to factory calibration, or redo it. Aug 10, 2015 at 2:56
  • You can easily revert to the factory calibration - you should see multiple calibration profiles for your monitor, and you can choose between them. As far as the pink goes, my old mbp (2008?) definitely gained a pinker cast after several years. I haven't heard of this with rMBP's, but it could definitely be so. Are you still in Applecare?
    – Michael H.
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:42
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    Thanks, @khedron. It had developed a pink cast only months after I'd calibrated it. The alternative is that I'd done a poor job at calibration. In any case, I'd already reverted to factory calibration (the only profile other than my own), and it's better. This is a company-issued laptop, and will be replaced soon, so let's see if it's any better. Aug 11, 2015 at 2:22
  • Sounds good. Good-ish. It's easy enough to make new color profiles. I do have one color calibration horror story. When making holiday cards one year, I plugged into the 42" TV to make it easier to discuss photos with my wife. We uploaded to the print site from there. I played with some white balance in the process. TV was not color calibrated - all the cards came out a little yellowish, but I could only see that on the laptop screen. Fortunately, no one else noticed (or at least, they didn't comment).
    – Michael H.
    Aug 11, 2015 at 2:59

Retina is a good display, but you definitely need a calibrator. I've calibrated my MBP Pro 2015 and there is significant difference in colours. I recommend to use at least 1000 patches.

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