I have to confess, I am completely confused about calibrating monitors and printers. I should say, that I understand why one needs to do it, it's how to do it in practice that I don't understand. I also don't know what I should buy as there seems to be a number of systems out there.
... I should also note that my computer is located in a room with a lot of north facing windows (and one west facing window) and so the light changes throughout the day. From what I've read, this is probably one of the worst locations to put a monitor, but moving the computer to another room is not an option and room darkening shades aren't an option either.
I would greatly appreciate it, if any of you could make some suggestions regarding which color calibration system for monitors and printers to get and also for any articles or videos that might explain more about all of this. ... As I said, any suggestions or tips will be greatly appreciated.
(I can't speak to the Macintosh world at all, at least with respect to the best Mac displays / hardware for photo processing.)
Any calibration hardware you buy will be bundled with a software application that walks you through the calibration process. Basically, the "puck" (colorimeter or spectrophotometer) rests against the display screen, and has a light sensor on the screen side. The software app displays a series of colors at known (reference) intensities, while the light sensor measures the displayed values. Then the output of the video card is automatically adjusted to match the display's output to the reference values. Some calibrators also measure the ambient light, and factors this into the display adjustments.
For printer calibration, one or more test targets are printed out, and the puck is used to measure the printed color samples against reference values. The software then builds an ICC profile which you can then select in your printer preferences to yield the truest colors in the final print. (Note that such custom ICC profiles are usually specific to a particular paper type (i.e., brand, finish, etc., such as Canon Pro Platinum N, Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, Pro Lustre, et al).