Print Size Preview Accuracy


Today’s Question: I’m using Photoshop CS6 and I can’t seem to figure out how to make an inch in View > Print Size to equal an actual inch. Is there a way to do this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The key to having the Print Size view option match the actual print dimensions in Adobe Photoshop is to set the Screen Resolution value in Preferences to the actual physical pixel-per-inch resolution of your display.

More Detail: The default setting for screen resolution virtually guarantees that the Print Size view (and the Ruler display) will not be accurate. Furthermore, the setting that controls these options is labeled in a way that wouldn’t make it obvious to most users that it would affect these view options.

You can find the Screen Resolution setting in the Preferences dialog. Start by choosing Edit > Preferences from the menu if you are using the Windows version of Photoshop, or Photoshop > Preferences if you are using the Macintosh version. From the Preferences submenu you can then choose Units & Rulers.

Choosing this command will bring up the Units & Rulers page of the Preferences dialog. There you will find the Screen Resolution setting in the New Document Preset Resolutions section. This is where you will want to enter the actual pixel-per-inch resolution for your display.

Of course, that also means you need to determine the correct setting for your display. Start by measuring the width of your display as accurately as possible. You want to measure only the actual display area for your operating system, not the total width of the physical monitor. For example, on my laptop the width is 14-inches.

Next, determine the resolution setting for the display, so you know exactly how many pixels there are across the width of the display. For example, let’s assume my display is set to a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. The first (and larger) number indicates the number of pixels across.

To calculate the actual pixel-per-inch resolution, you simply need to divide the number of pixels by the number of inches. So in this case 1920 divided by 14 gives me a value of 137 pixels per inch.

So, in this example I would change the Screen Resolution setting to a value of 137 from the default of 72, and make sure the popup to the right of that value is set to “Pixels/Inch” (rather than centimeters). Click OK to apply the change in Preferences. Now when you enable the rulers display (View > Rulers) or the Print Size view option (View > Print Size), the sizes will be accurate on your monitor relative to the final printed output.