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Printing a photo or illustration seems like it should be as easy as printing anything else, but it isn't. Set the DPI incorrectly, and you'll end up with glossy photos that are blurry and low quality, or a poster that prints no larger than a postage stamp.
If you're a designer or photographer, or just want to make sure your vacation shots print without problems, you need to understand what DPI is, and how to change your print resolution. Let's take a look at everything you need to know about DPI and how to change the DPI of an image.
What Is DPI and What Does 300 DPI Mean?
DPI stands for "dots-per-inch," and is a specification for printing and for setting the print resolution of an image.
A print is made from millions of tiny dots of ink. The DPI setting determines how many dots the printer drops onto every square inch of the image—300 dpi means 300 dots of ink, while 150 dpi is half as much.
You need to understand how DPI works because it controls the two most important things in printing:
- The quality of your print. In simple terms, a higher DPI means a higher quality print. Most good home printers can output at 300 dpi, which is the recommended minimum for high-quality printing, and professional printers much higher.
- The size of your print. A pixel in a digital image is equivalent to a dot in a print. So, if you print an 1800 pixel wide image at 300 dots-per-inch, the printed image will be six inches wide. Print the same image at 180 dpi and it will be 10 inches wide. It's basic math—just divide the number of pixels by the DPI.
How DPI Affects Your Prints
Here's an image to illustrate. Below are two lines that consist of the same 40 blocks—the same size and same color. The blocks are less tightly packed on the top line, equating to a lower DPI; and more tightly packed on the bottom line for a higher DPI.
The effect is clear. On the Lower DPI line, the gradient is a lot less smooth. You can see clear edges against each of the blocks. The line is also a lot longer.
On the Higher DPI line, the gradient is much smoother. It's almost seamless. The line is also a lot shorter.
This demonstrates the balancing act you often need to make when setting the print resolution: size versus quality. A lower DPI image prints larger, but at a lower quality. If you're working with low res images, then you'll have to make a trade-off between the two.
Where possible, you should always save your work in as high a resolution as you can. Because resizing your image to make it larger won't improve the print quality.
What DPI Should You Use?
All this begs the question: What is the best DPI to print at?
The standard rule is that you should aim for a 300 dpi image. This is great quality for photographs, and it's questionable how much extra detail the human eye can even discern beyond that level.
But if your image is too small to print at 300 dpi, don't worry. The intended viewing distance of the print plays a large role in what resolution you need.
For images you'll hold in your hands, like photos, leaflets, or magazines, 300 dpi or higher is the target, but 250 will do at a push.
With posters or pictures that you're going to frame, you can get away with a lower resolution because you'll mostly be looking at them from a few feet away. 200 dpi should be okay, or even a little lower. This also applies when you're printing on different materials, like canvas, which hold less detail due to their texture.
And this continues. The further away you intend to look at your image, the lower you can set the resolution. A billboard poster designed to be seen from across the street might be printed at as low as 20 dots per inch.
It's also important to note that these rules only apply to photos and raster images. If you're doing graphic design work with vector images, then you can resize them as much as you like without any loss of quality.
How to Check the DPI of an Image
To find out an image's DPI in Windows, right-click on the file name and select Properties > Details. You'll see the DPI in the Image section, labeled Horizontal Resolution and Vertical Resolution.
On a Mac, you need to open the image in Preview and select Tools > Adjust Size. It's labeled Resolution.
How to Change the DPI of an Image: 4 Ways
You can change an image's DPI in most graphics packages, including the best budget design apps. You'll need an app or online service if you're using Windows, as you can't change the DPI natively otherwise. You can change the resolution in Preview on a Mac.
Remember that DPI is only a measurement of print resolution. Changing the DPI does not change the size of your digital image or the size of the file.
If you're working with an image you think you'll need to print, it's a good idea to set your target print resolution before you resize it. That will help to ensure you don't make it too small to print safely at your preferred size.
How to Change the DPI in Photoshop
To change an image's DPI in Photoshop, go to Image > Image Size. Uncheck Resample Image, because this setting will upscale your image, which will make it lower quality.
Now, next to Resolution, type in your preferred resolution, set as Pixels/Inch. Notice how the Width and Height figures change, too. This shows you the size your image will print.
You can, of course, specify the width and height instead, in inches or centimeters. If you do this, just make sure your DPI doesn't drop too low to degrade the quality. That can happen if your image is small.
How to Change the DPI In GIMP
To change the DPI of an image in GIMP, go to Image > Print Size. Enter your preferred DPI next to X Resolution, set in pixels/in. The Y Resolution should update automatically, too.
Like in Photoshop, you can set the physical width and height instead. Again, make sure the DPI doesn't drop too low when you do this.
How to Change the DPI Online for Free
If you're in a pinch and you don't have your graphics program of choice to hand, you can always change the DPI of an image with Convert Town, a DPI-changing web app, for free online.
All you have to do is input the DPI you need the image changed to (common resolutions like 300 dpi are available as handy presets), drag and drop the file to upload it, and wait. When it's done converting, it should automatically download your updated image to your default download folder.
How to Change the DPI in Preview on macOS
You should use one of the above options if you're using Windows. There's a built-in solution on a Mac: Preview. The default app for viewing images also lets you change the DPI of those images, and it's really easy to do.
Open the image in Preview and go to Tools > Adjust Size. Uncheck the box labeled Resample image to ensure you don't increase or decrease the number of pixels in the image. Now, with Resolution set to pixels/inch, type in your target resolution (such as 300).
You'll notice that the width and height also change, showing you the new size the image will print at.
Get Better Photo Prints
Understanding the meaning of DPI is so important when you're printing. It's easy to ruin entire projects because you're working at too low a resolution or to get bad prints because you're printing them larger than they can handle.
But this is only the first step in printing—there's a lot more you need to know to get the perfect print.
How can I change the DPI of an image? ›
To change an image's DPI in Photoshop, go to Image > Image Size. Uncheck Resample Image, because this setting will upscale your image, which will make it lower quality. Now, next to Resolution, type in your preferred resolution, set as Pixels/Inch. Notice how the Width and Height figures change, too.Is there a way to change DPI? ›
Right-click on the desktop and select Display Settings. Select Change the size of text, apps, and other items, and then adjust the slider for each monitor. Set the DPI setting to Smaller - 100%. Select Apply.How do I change an image to 300 DPI? ›
- Upload a picture. Choose your file from computer, phone, Google Drive, or Dropbox. ...
- Select DPI. Enter your desired DPI — Dots Per Inch (Today the term is often misused, usually means PPI, which stands for Pixels Per Inch). ...
- Download the result.
- Launch Adobe Photoshop on your laptop or computer.
- Navigate to File > Open and select your image.
- With your image open, click Image > Image Size.
- Here, you can adjust the Resolution, Image Size in Width and Height and Dimensions to your liking.
Note: Changing the DPI value without increasing resolution doesn't add more details to your image. It's only the recommended default value for printers. If you want to print a low-res photo at high pixel density, it will result in tiny output size.What is the best DPI converter? ›
Clideo is a recommendable 300 DPI resolution converter online that also alters the DPI of a picture. It is great for designers, photographers, and anyone interested in printing quality pictures without losing quality. Clideo supports any image format, including PPM, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, and BMP.How do I change the DPI of a picture in Windows 10? ›
- Open the Control Panel (All items view). ...
- Right click on a empty area of your desktop and click Personalize. ...
- Right-click on an empty area on your desktop and click Screen Resolution. ...
- You will now see this screen.
- Select Smaller - 100% = 96 DPI (Pixels/Dots per inch)
- Click Apply.
- Go to the Fotor AI Enlarger.
- Upload your blurry picture, Click "Adjust" and find the "AI Enlarger " tool. It supports to enlarge by 200% and 400% based on your needs.
- Finally, don't forget to click "Apply" and save your photo.
- Download your HD images.
DPI refers to the number of printed dots contained within one inch of an image printed by a printer. PPI refers to the number of pixels contained within one inch of an image displayed on a computer monitor.Does DPI change with resolution? ›
DPI, or dots per inch, is a measure of the resolution of a printed document or digital scan. The higher the dot density, the higher the resolution of the print or scan.
How to convert 96 DPI to 300 DPI? ›
First, open your 96 DPI image in Photoshop. Then go to 'Image' tab and select "Image Size" and set the resolution on 300 DPI (Pixels/Inch) and then save it. - S. M.How is DPI calculated? ›
People regularly discuss digital images in terms of DPI, which stands for Dots Per Inch. The DPI of a digital image is calculated by dividing the total number of dots wide by the total number of inches wide OR by calculating the total number of dots high by the total number of inches high.Can you change 240 DPI to 300 DPI? ›
1 Correct answer. You can change the resolution in Photoshop: Image > Image Size. Ensure Resample is unticked. The image dimensions will decrease as your increase the PPI.How can I change a low resolution photo to high resolution? ›
- With Photoshop open, go to File > Open and select your image. ...
- Go to Image > Image Size.
- An Image Size dialog box will appear like the one pictured below. ...
- To change only the resolution, uncheck the Resample Image box.
- Launch Photoshop and click on the "File" button.
- Open the file that you wish to edit.
- Go to the "Image" tab and choose the option "Select Image Size."
- In the emerging box, choose a suitable value of the "Width" and "Height" of the image.
- Lastly, click on "OK" and save your file to the device.
Thank you for writing to Microsoft Community Forums. The feature you are looking for is available on Paint application. You can change the dpi resolution of a picture by selecting Resize option from the top menu and change the Horizontal and Vertical aspect ratio.How can you increase resolution? ›
Select Neural Filters.
- Click on Super Zoom.
- Use the slider to adjust the image to your liking.
- Click OK.
This means that the more dots per inch (dpi), the higher the print resolution. For example, a 300 dpi printer can print 300 dots per inch of page space, whereas a 600 dpi printer can print double that amount, creating a much higher quality print.Is 600 DPI better than 300DPI? ›
Is 300 DPI better than 600 DPI or does it work the other way? It depends, in fact, on what you are printing and what material is used. A higher resolution might be needed for glossy photos or images with lots of details that need to be crisp. Then 600 DPI could be a better option.How many pixels is 300 DPI? ›
An image meant to publish at 3.333 inches (82 mm single column width) and 300 DPI is roughly 1000 pixels wide (3.333 inches ¥ 300 DPI = 1000 pixels).
How do I change DPI to 800 DPI? ›
Click on the ''Devices'' option in the settings menu. Click on the ''Mouse'' option and click on “Additional mouse” options. A window will open. Now, click on the ''Pointer'' option and move the slider to make changes in the DPI.How do I change my DPI manually? ›
Change mouse sensitivity (DPI) settings
If your mouse doesn't have DPI on-the-fly buttons, start Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center, select the mouse you are using, click basic settings, locate Sensitivity, make your changes.
You'll see that most pros have a DPI between 400-800 where all gaming mice are going to track perfectly.Can I change 96 DPI to 300 DPI? ›
First, open your 96 DPI image in Photoshop. Then go to 'Image' tab and select "Image Size" and set the resolution on 300 DPI (Pixels/Inch) and then save it.How do I know the DPI of an image? ›
Right-click on the image file and select Properties. Click the Details tab at the top bar. Scroll down to find image Dimensions and the DPI Resolution.Can you increase DPI without losing quality? ›
To change density but not resolution, uncheck the Resample Image box and change just the (confusingly named) Resolution field, which is set by default to ppi as “pixels/inch.”Is 72 DPI better than 300dpi? ›
A 300 DPI image is considered to be a high quality photo for print. More dots = higher quality. PPI stands for pixels per square inch, which are squares of light that fit into an inch on a monitor. A 72 PPI image isn't appropriate for print because it will appear pixelated, like the right side of the image above.Can a JPEG be 300 DPI? ›
So, bottom line, a high resolution photo is an image with high quality pixels, saved in either a non-lossy file format or a low compression (high quality) JPEG, that can supply the desired PPI (usually 300) for the intended print size.