Especially for print work, having images that are high resolution and at least 300 DPI is really important. It’s not always an intuitive thing to check though. Despite being so important, a lot of programs seem to bury it in a mix of settings.
To check an image’s resolution or DPI on a Mac computer, open it with the “Preview” application and click on “Adjust Size” within the “Tools” menu. On a Windows computer, right click on the image and click on “Details” within the “Properties” tab.
We’ll dive into more details about finding these DPI numbers on a Mac or Windows. But, what if you want to access it right within your program, like Illustrator or Gimp? Or what if you aren’t using a computer at all and need to check the DPI from your iPad’s Procreate app?
Let’s talk about a number of ways to access your DPI so that you’re always ready, no matter what program or platform you’re using.
How to Check DPI and Image Resolution in the Finder with a Mac and Windows
Checking the DPI of your image from your desktop is easy, but it isn’t intuitive. There isn’t a simple “DPI” button that you can click. Once you know where your image’s DPI information lives though, it’s quick and easy.
Check the DPI of an Image on a Mac
1. Open your image with the Preview app. This is my default app for opening images, mainly because it’s a simple and stress-free app, but also because it’s easy to check DPI with it.
2. Click on “Tools” in the top menu bar
3. Click on “Adjust Size” within the “Tools” menu
4. Look for the “Resolution” label that’s under “Width” and “Height”
5. Make sure that the drop down for “Resolution” is set to “pixels/inch”
6. That number is your DPI!
The Preview app isn’t the only way to check an image’s DPI, but it’s the simplest…and the cheapest. Free is always great in my book.
Check the DPI of an Image on a Windows
1. Right click on your image file
2. Click on “Properties”
3. Click on “Details”
4. Find the image section of the box that pops up and scan for the “Horizontal Resolution” and “Vertical Resolution”
5. That’s your DPI!
If you have a PDF, it’s likely that it will default to opening with Adobe Acrobat. I love this program, but it won’t let you check the resolution of your PDF without the Pro version. Yeah, I’m not paying a high monthly fee just for checking my PDF’s DPI.
Even if you have the Pro version of Adobe Acrobat, checking the DPI of your PDF isn’t easy. There’s actually a great reason for this. PDFs don’t have a single DPI rating; each image within the PDF has its own resolution.
Don’t worry though; there’s an easy workaround to figuring out the DPI of your PDFs.
Check the DPI of a PDF
To check the DPI of a PDF, convert it to a JPG or PNG, making sure that you maintain the same image quality during the conversion. Check the DPI of the resulting image that was converted from your PDF.
This isn’t a perfect system, but it’s pretty close. This is how I check the DPI of all of my PDFs and I’ve never run into any issues with it. Here’s an easy converter to use.
Like I said, getting the Pro version of Adobe Acrobat just for checking DPI isn’t worth it. But, if you already have a Pro subscription for other reasons, might as well get another feature out of it. Here’s how to check the DPI of your PDFs with the Pro version.
Check the DPI of a PDF with Adobe Acrobat Pro
PDFs don’t have a single DPI, as each image in the PDF has its own DPI. With Adobe Acrobat Pro, click the “Output Preview” setting under the “Print Production” menu. Use the “Object Inspector” to look at each of the images in your PDF.
Let’s run through those steps individually:
1. Click on “Print Production”
2. Click on “Output Preview”
3. In the box that pops up, under the label that says “Preview,” scroll down to “Object Inspector”
4. Click on the images in your PDF
5. Make sure the “Image Attributes” menu is expanded and scan for the “Resolution” label
6. Repeat for all of the images in your PDF and you’ll get a good sense whether all of your images are high resolution or not.
One of the reasons I love designing with Canva is that, when you download with their “PDF Print” option, it spits out a 300 DPI PDF automatically. No need to worry that it will be anything less.
I absolutely love Canva’s design software. If you’re using the free version, or have yet to explore Canva’s great features, read my post about why Canva Pro is worth the money. I pay for a year long subscription and it’s worth every penny.
Check the DPI of an Image with Illustrator
To check the DPI of an image in Illustrator, click on the “Window” tab in the top toolbar and scroll down to “Document Info.” You’ll see a section for “Resolution,” which will state the DPI of your design.
Illustrator makes it fairly easy and straightforward to check the DPI of your images. As they should. They are a well-respected design program for a reason and things like image resolution really matter.
Here’s the step-by step:
1. Click on “Window” in the top toolbar
2. Click on “Document Info”
3. Look for “Resolution”
Check the DPI of an Image with Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word will keep the DPI of your image the same, as long as your settings are correct. Within the “Edit” section of Word’s “Properties,” make sure that you check the box that says “Do not compress images in file.” Otherwise, set a default DPI below that.
Microsoft Word will compress your images unless you tell it not to. You also have to specifically tell it to do this for ALL of your documents, not just the one you’re working on. I’ll list that clearly in the steps, but it’s really important, so it’s worth noting again.
1. Open a Word Doc and click on “Word” in the top toolbar
2. Click on “Preferences”
3. Click on “Edit”
4. Scroll down to “Image Size and Quality:
5. Important! Click on the drop down next to “Image Size and Quality” and select “All New Documents.” Of course, if you don’t want this to apply to all of your documents, leave it selected for the current document you’re working on.
6. Click on “Do not compress images in file”
Important note: checking the box for “Do not compress images in file” overrides the DPI setting you’ll see below that. Microsoft Word will take your image as is and won’t adjust the DPI.
But, let’s say that you want all of your images in Word to be a consistent DPI. Instead of checking the “Do not compress images in file,” select the standard DPI you would like Word to use for your images.
Checking the DPI of an image on a desktop is one thing, but what about an iPad program like Procreate? Luckily, Procreate makes this easy to do right within the app.
Check the DPI of an Image with Procreate
To check the DPI of an image in Procreate, Click on the “Canvas” button within the “Actions” tab. Scroll down to “Canvas Info” and then click on “Dimensions.” You’ll see the DPI at the bottom.
User friendly features like this is a reason why I love Procreate so much. It’s such a powerful program, but it’s also so easy to use. Here are the steps again:
1. Click on the “Actions” tab in the top menu bar. It’s the one that looks like a wrench.
2. Click on “Canvas”
3. At the bottom of the “Canvas” menu, click on “Canvas Info”
4. Within the “Canvas Info” menu, click on dimensions
5. You’ll see your DPI at the bottom of the bottom of the list of your canvas dimensions
Image resolution is an important part of graphic design. If you end up with something that has a low DPI, it could mean disaster for your print work. Luckily, there are a number of simple and quick ways to check the resolution of your images across a number of platforms. With this guide, you can design confidently, knowing that your images will be the high quality that you need.
Go forth and create great art!
Diana has been an artist for over 25 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana’s latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.