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On Windows, the default screen DPI (aka PPI) is 96. On macOS, as far as I know, it is still 72 (note that we talk about images, not text!). Because of this, when I open InDesign on Windows and place there a 72-dpi image, it looks larger (compared to how it looks in web browser, hence web browser doesn't care about DPI) and blurry.

My questions:

  • Does it also mean that if I open InDesign on macOS and place a 96-dpi image there, it will look smaller compared to how it looks in web browser?

  • And does it mean that if I create an InDesign document with 96-dpi images on my Windows PC, and then send it to a friend who use Mac, the images will look wrong (that is, smaller) to him?

I don't have a Mac, neither do my friends (just because it is quite pricy in my country), so I can't test it myself.

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  • In short: Don't worry too much about this. You decide the size (and thereby PPI) for images in InDesign yourself. Are you working with print documents (physical units) or web documents (pixels) in InDesign?
    – Wolff
    Jan 24 at 14:55
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    No the fact that it is larger has nothing to do with dpi. All adobe applications assume 72 dpi if nothing is given. (Adobe has no concept of not set)
    – joojaa
    Jan 24 at 15:12
  • @Wolff The documents are assumed to be used "as is" (without exporting them as PDF or HTML) for on-screen reading.
    – user90726
    Jan 24 at 15:19
  • @jsv huh then why would you use a publishing application at all?
    – joojaa
    Jan 24 at 17:01
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    The simple solution is to ensure all images are using the same PPI -- which is fairly standard practice for print or web publishing.
    – Scott
    Jan 24 at 17:59

2 Answers 2

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There is nothing like "the default ppi for Windows is 96". Your monitor has pixels, and inches, therefore it has many pixels per inches. Digital stuff just uses dimensions (x, y). A 1920x1080px digital image may be represented at different physical sizes depending on the screen size (TV, smartphone, etc). The dpi in digital images is just a metadata the tell the printer how it should be printed.

When you are working with something like InDesign, it's simulating a physical paper size. Unlike LCD monitors, paper has no native resolution, it has physical size only. Therefore you can create the resolution of the paper by setting the density of the dots in the software. For example an A4 sheet at 300dpi has 3508x2480 dots. InDesign uses the dpi metadata to calculate the physical size of the image according to it's digital dimension, but you can resize it as you like, assuming the image has enough pixels to not get blurry. If your image looks blurry and big in InDesign, it probably means the image was resampled, maybe in Photoshop (just don't do it please), regardless of the OS you are using.

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Whether you use a Windows PC or Mac makes no difference to InDesign (or Illustrator for that matter). The software works the same on both platforms. The OS is irrelevant.

InDesign is page layout software (mostly used for print), unlike software such as web browsers or image viewing software. In InDesign images have a physical print size, measured in inches/mm/etc on a page. InDesign does use the PPI setting to place images at a specific size in print documents, which is calculated by dividing the number of pixels by the PPI.

An Example:

Let's say you have two images which are identical 100px x 100px, except that one is set to 72ppi, and the other is set to 96ppi.

If you place the 72ppi image in InDesign, its physical size on the page will be 100/72=1.39" in both width and height, unless you scale it manually.

If you place the 96ppi image in InDesign, its physical size on the page will be 100/96=1.04" in both width and height, unless you scale it manually.

This is the same behaviour regardless of the operating system. It's calculated by the software, not the operating system.

The size the image appears on the screen will depend on the device's size and pixel density, and whether there is any system zoom setting applied, and the zoom level in InDesign itself.

So the answer to your questions are: 1) It depends on the user settings and specific screen size [none of which you can control] and 2) No. Once the image is placed on the page, the size is fixed in the document. It will not resize the image on the page if you open the InDesign document on a different OS.

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  • Maybe you know whether it is possible (and how) to insert 72-dpi images on Windows and still have them look sharp? (I can ask it as a new question, if you think it will be more fair.)
    – user90726
    Jan 24 at 19:36
  • @jsv, sounds like it could have to do with your display settings. See for example this, this and this question.
    – Wolff
    Jan 24 at 21:42
  • No, this is a different thing, but still thanks
    – user90726
    Jan 24 at 22:24
  • @jsv - what size is the image in pixels? And what size do you intend to print it at? The ppi setting on its own is meaningless. Sounds like the image is too low resolution. You likely need a larger image with more pixels. This has nothing to do with Windows or your operating system. Also note that you can't zoom in on raster images or scale them up, or they will look blurry.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 24 at 23:54

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