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how to check dpi of image on mac

How To Check The DPI of An Image on Mac (Step-By-Step Guide)

If you want to make sure your photos are printed without problems, you need to know how to check DPI of image on Mac and tweak other settings to better print resolution.

There are many terms in photography, picture editing, graphic design, etc. that are useful when talking about any artwork.

Some terms common from amateurs to professionals are:

  • contrast
  • color saturation
  • DPI
  • PPI
  • hue
  • aperture
  • tint
  • temperature

All of which are available on any modern Android or Apple smartphones or tablets.

If you open the camera app, some of these are there right out of the box on the main camera page, while others have a pro mode to change these settings.

There are also social media and photo editing apps where you can edit those settings quite easily.

While we are not covering all the terms that are there (You can easily Google those), we will be covering DPI and PPI.

Find out what DPI is, the difference between DPI and PPI, and how DPI affects your picture quality. 

So, let’s dive right into it and understand what is what.

What is DPI ?

DPI simply stands for Dots per inch.

But, what does it truly mean?

For that, we need to first talk a little bit about printers and images.

Printers do not directly print colors, but rather each of the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black, also fondly known as (CMYK), are layered dots on the sheet of paper that you print.

These dots are packed on top of each.

This will give a mix of colors and provide a vibrant and colorful image (in the case of a color printer) that we see with our eyes.

Note: This is true for both printer types – lasers and ink cartridges.

Now that we know what the “D” in DPI stands for let’s look at “PI”.

PI or “per inch” is simply the quantity of Dots per square inch in the image.

Let’s illustrate with an example. 

When we print a 300 DPI image, the image consists of 90,000 separate pigment dots inside one inch. 

And if you were ever to scan such an image, transfer it to your computer and view it.

You would be able to see the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black dots.

If you have time to count the actual number of dots per inch in that scanned image, you would see 90,000 separate dots.

Note: This depends on the scan quality of the printer as well. 

This technique would not work well with a phone camera.

What is PPI?

PPI simply stands for Pixels per Inch

We all know that our modern devices and gadgets have these essential things called screens.

Each screen is made up of extremely tiny squares called Pixels arranged in a square grid generally.

These pixels are so small that the naked eye does not notice them.

Each square or pixel in the screen gives a different color from the Red, Green, or Blue.

And when we see these colors on the screen, our brain processes them.

Our brain makes the image smooth even though the underlying pixels are in a square grid.

So, Pixels per square inch is nothing but the amount of those tiny squares, aka pixels, that each screen packs.

Let’s take an example of this.

Say I have a camera that captures an image of six thousand pixels wide by six thousand pixels long (6000 x 6000).

Doing quick math, 6000 x 6000, is equal to 36,000,000 pixels or 36 MP (Mega Pixels or Million Pixels)


Let’s get down and dirty with PPI and DPI.

Most folks may use these terms interchangeably.

However, that is incorrect.

PPI is often used to describe the resolution of the screen.

So, when I say I have a 15″ Dell Laptop with 2880 x 1800 pixels with 221 Pixels and a 6.4″ Samsung phone with 2280×1080 pixels with 522 PPI, that means my Samsung phone has a higher resolution.

A higher PPI will give a clearer picture, remove jagged edges, and improve the image’s clarity.

Now let’s talk about PPI and DPI. 

After all, that’s where the most confusion lies.

While PPI refers to a digital file, DPI does NOT refer to a digital file at all.

If we are talking about printing size, then PPI refers to how many pixels from the digital file will create the one inch on the printed sheet.

All this may be confusing for you, so let me explain with a small example.

Say you are using a frosting can for your dessert. 

Now, if you frost a small cupcake with the entire frosting can, the cupcake would be very dense with frosting.   

Conversely, if you use the frosting on a large cake, you will have to spread it out more evenly to cover the cake. 

I hope this clears your concepts, and NO, I do not recommend putting that much frosting on a cupcake.


An essential concept when talking about PPI and DPI is “Resampling”.

Taking the frosting example above, what if you do not have enough frosting to cover the entire cake.

That is, what if your image does not have enough pixels to print on a large sheet.

That’s where resampling comes in.

Simply put, resampling will add more pixels to the image file.

As amazing as that sounds to magically put in pixels to an image, it has its caveat.

Primarily resampling may degrade the existing image quality, sometimes even drastically so.

When any software is resampling the image, the software guesses the pixel color based on adjoining pixels.

It tears the image apart and adds new pixels, guessing the colors based on the pixels’ neighbors.

Resampling can also mean downsizing the digital file.

Most modern websites and applications resample the image dynamically before sending it to the user.

This ensures file sizes are kept low and pages load faster.

When downsizing, we are eliminating pixels from the picture.

This, too, then downgrades the quality of the image.

How DPI Affects A Picture

DPI affects a picture in many ways. 

First and foremost is the file size.

Why does it affect the file size, you may ask?

This is because when you change the image’s default size to fit the printer’s default specification, the file size changes.

Pro tip: Try not to change DPI and resize or resample the image at the same time.

This is because it will affect the pixels in the digital image.

The original image quality will be lost/distorted.

Secondly, DPI affects the image height and width as well.

A lower DPI image for the same amount of clarity will have a lower width and height.

In contrast, a higher DPI image for the same clarity as the first image will have a bigger width and height.

If you want to see an example, open two pictures with different DPI’s in any photo editing software like Photoshop or Illustrator.

What will be immediately evident is that the two images are of different dimensions.

Apart from this, DPI does not matter much, at least digitally.

It provides photo software like photoshop, illustrator, windows picture viewer, etc., the ability to render the image correctly.  

To know more about DPI and Digital Photos, visit for more info.

DPI and Printers

Now that we saw that DPI does not affect the digital world let’s look at the physical world.

I have already explained what DPI is above.

We also had a look at how varied the DPI for printers can be.

So let’s have a look below at the relation between DPI and printers.

I cannot stress enough that DPI plays a vital part in image printing for any activity.

It is pivotal in defining the quality, clarity, and smoothness of the print article.

However, this scenario considerably changes if it’s just text.

Since text doesn’t require as high quality, lower DPI may work for it.

Let’s consider the above statement with a scenario to explain the relation.

Suppose a printer can print 500 dots per inch on a piece of any photo quality printer.

Now, what if we send the printer a file that only has 100 DPI to print?

The quality of that print would be widely affected. 

And imagine these are wedding photos or an anniversary album you are delivering to a client.

The client would NOT want to see bad quality images for their best memories.

Now on the other side if we had just textual content.

It may not matter that the text is a little less smooth or has a little more jagged edge on each word.

If it’s legible, it will work.

How To Check DPI of Image On MAC Using The Preview App

In our modern digital world, PPI is much easier to change as compared to DPI.

DPI varies widely per printer model and printer type.

Inkjet printers have 300 to 720 DPI, whereas laser printers have 600 to 2400 DPI.

You can still check DPI on a Mac computer by following the below steps.

We will use the Preview app on the Mac to check an image is DPI.

First, navigate to the location of the file.

Next, right-click the file.

From the menu options that come up, hover on “Open With.”

Once the “Open With” menu expands, select the “Preview” button.

When the window pops up for the “Preview,” click on “Tools” in the topmost menu.

After the “Tools” menu is launched, select the “Show Inspector.”

There will be a lot of information for the file, among which the DPI will also be mentioned.

I hope you find the steps to check DPI for your image use for all your creative endeavors.

For more detailed steps on how to check DPI of an image on Mac, go to

How To Check DPI on MAC Using the Photoshop App

Most designers using Windows or Mac will likely use Adobe Photoshop for their creative works.

So, let’s look at how we can check the DPI of an image when using Adobe Photoshop on a Mac.

The first step is to start and run Adobe Photoshop itself.

The next and most obvious step is to open the image in photoshop.

Once that is done, on the menu bar in the top left corner, click on “Image.”

From the dropdown the comes up, select the “Image Size.”

All the details of the image come up, such as size, dimensions, resolution, etc.

You can check the Resolution tab to check the PPI and DPI of the image.

To edit those values, simply update the number beside the “Resolution” and let the “Resample” box be checked.

If you do not want any changes in the image’s size, make sure that you uncheck the “Resample” box before clicking apply or save. 

How to Check DPI on WINDOWS?

Yes, you read the title right!

You thought we would only give you tips to check DPI on MAC?

Don’t make that mistake. 

We pride ourselves on giving you a comprehensive guide that goes above and beyond the article’s title.

Yes, you might argue that you have been deceived when you came for just the same article.

But I digress. 

While I can leave you with the steps, it is essential for those who have come to learn to get even more information.

So let’s talk about how to check DPI on Windows. 

First and foremost, navigate to the folder where your image is stored or where you downloaded it.

Then right-click on the image.

In the pop-up menu that comes up, search for “Properties” and click it.

Once the properties menu opens, go to the “Details” tab on the top menu.

Scroll through that till you find the “Horizontal Resolution” and “Vertical Resolution.”

In that, you will also see the DPI listed. 

How To Check DPI on WINDOWS Using MS Paint

Now I could tell you all how to check the DPI of an image using photoshop in Windows.

However, that has already been covered in the Mac section.

The instructions for checking the DPI using photoshop on windows would thus remain pretty the same.

So, let’s talk about a different tool. 

MS Paint ships with every Windows system.

I would argue it is quite an underrated software, but that is a story for another day.

Anyway, let’s see how we can check the DPI in MS Paint for any image (Of course, the image has to be in a format Paint can open).

First and foremost, open Paint.

Next, open the file that you wish to check the DPI of an image in MS Paint.

And then, click on the top left icon after the image is open.

After that, scroll down, search for “Properties,” and click on it.

Finally, in the “Image Properties” pop-up box, you can see the DPI beside the Resolution.

Now you know where to see the DPI even in MS Paint.

I am sure none of you asked for it, but I believe knowledge should be shared.

You can check out to find out more about checking and changing the DPI of an image in MS Paint.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article gives you a clear and concise about what is DPI aka Dots Per Inch and what is PPI aka Pixels per Inch.

To reiterate, “Dots Per Inch” (DPI) is the number of dots per inch on a printed sheet.

Since printers only print cyan, magenta, yellow and black, these dots combine and help define the final color in the image.

“Pixels Per Inch” (PPI) are the number of pixels that generally exist on a screen.

Each pixel can be red, green, or blue.

These small square gridded pixels come together to give us vivid pictures and beautiful designs on our screen.

We also talked about resampling and how we must be careful about resampling an image.

This is because resampling adds or removes pixels. 

The colors of the pixels are colors picked up from adjoining pixels, which reduces picture clarity.

Finally, we talked about how to check DPI of image on Mac.

Not only that but the height and width of an image in Mac and Windows using various software.

I hope this article helps you with your design adventures.

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