Is Your Browser Color-Managed?

I recently posted an article on how to calibrate a monitor, but completely forgot to mention about using color-managed applications. Whenever you deal with different color profiles on your pictures, you should always use color-managed applications. Otherwise, some of the pictures could appear abnormal and the colors could be way off.

One of the most basic applications that we would expect to have integrated color-management is our Internet browser that we use everyday. Surprisingly, many of the most popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Opera simply ignore color profiles embedded into pictures. Therefore, for ultimate photo-viewing experience, you should always try to use a color-managed browser. The best and the most popular color-managed browser is Mozilla Firefox. It is my favorite browser and I use it primarily to surf the web.

Mac users do not have to deal with this, because the Apple Safari browser already has full support for color profiles.

How can you tell if your browser is color-managed?

Take a look at both of the below images on your browser. If they look identical as far as colors are concerned, then your browser is color-managed. If the second image below appears to have a dark blue/magenta sky with yellowish sand, then your browser is not color-managed.

Sand Dunes - sRGB
Sand Dunes - ProPhoto RGB

If you see any differences between the above pictures, you should change your browser!

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Kerry
    February 23, 2010 at 7:11 am

    I am puzzled. I am using Firefox but those images are different in colour. The skies are the same, but the land area is different, with the land area being paler in colour, including the mountain area.

    • February 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm

      Kerry,

      What version of Firefox are you using? Make sure that your version is at least 3.5. Also, what monitor do you have?

      If the colors are just slightly different, it is not an issue. But if it is very noticeable, then something might be wrong with your browser and/or monitor settings.

      Please let me know.

      • 3
        ) Kerry
        February 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm

        Hi Nasim

        Many thanks for responding. I have the latest version of Firefox – I always update as soon as one is available. I have a Dell 1909W. It isn’t drastically noticeable just slightly lighter on the bottom image. I tried moving it up the screen to see if the colours altered – I thought perhaps it might be the monitor but the colours didn’t change. In the bottom image I get more detail in the mountains.

        • February 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm

          Kerry, according to TFT Central, your monitor is “TN Film”, which means that it is not a good monitor for photography – the color reproduction is not good on TN monitors. That’s probably why you are seeing different images.

          I have plenty of PCs at my work and I tried using Firefox on 3-4 of them (not calibrated) and all of them display both images identically.

          One thing you should try, is resetting your monitor brightness/contrast levels to factory default. Also, what happens when you view the above images in Internet Explorer? Do you see the same problem or do the images look substantially different?

          • 5
            ) Kerry
            February 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm

            Hi Nasim

            Thanks for your further advice. I have just checked the image using Internet Explorer and the difference is amazing: you would think they were two different images the colours are so different.

            I have also reset to the factory settings but I still get the difference with firefox I can only assume it is down to the monitor being a TN monitor. Unfortunately I only recently bought this one and I wasn’t aware at the time about the different types of monitor and what was best for photography. We live and learn and once again I have learnt a lesson the hard way. :-( Thanks for the time and effort you are putting into these really informative articles.

            • February 26, 2010 at 2:05 am

              Kerry, you are most welcome!

              I was hoping that it wasn’t the monitor, but it seems like it is your monitor that is having issues with color reproduction in this case :(

      • 32
        ) han jansen
        September 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm

        Hi Nasim,

        for the people on Firefox who see this little difference.

        I think it’s the vertical view angle. if you move your head up/down they will be the same.

        At least that’s my experience whith Firefox on lcd screen.

        Ciao, Han.

    • 39
      ) Czornyj
      September 11, 2013 at 4:18 am

      It’s screwed – the ProPhoto rendered image is not tagged with ProPhoto ICC profile – there’s no way any browser could guess the color space of that image

  2. 7
    ) Rodrigo
    May 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Hello Nasim,

    I found out your website while going over a post from Matt Kloskowski where you left a comment recently (some sunrise special spot). Anyway going over this article I noticed that using macos x and Google Chrome (rel. 5.0.375.28 dev) both images have the same colors. Not sure about linux/windows Chrome versions but with mac you’ll be safe.

    Regards and congratulations for the fine blog site, went directly to my list of sites to review often.

    • May 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      Thank you Rodrigo, appreciate your feedback!

      Yes, one more person reported that Chrome on MacOS is color managed :) I will update the article to reflect this, since it is now fully confirmed.

  3. May 19, 2010 at 7:30 am

    This is great, useful info, Nasim! How did I not know this? :-) I’ll be passing your link on to my favorite online art community (onlinevisualartists.com).

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. 13
    ) jessica
    July 10, 2010 at 8:11 am

    This is great article!
    I have just checked all available Mac OS Browsers and was amazed of the result.
    Checked with 24″ iMac.

    Safari 4.0.5 – Yes / Safari 5 – Yes (no doubt!)
    Firefox 3.0.19 – No / Firefox 3.6.6 – Yes!
    Chrome 5.0.375.99 – Yes
    Opera – Unfortunately no support from Opera even with the latest update – 10.60

    Would love if someone post browser test for Internet Explorer (Windows)

    Thanks once again for the post!

    • July 17, 2010 at 1:48 am

      Jessica, thank you for sharing these, it is great to see that most browsers support color management on Macs!

      The latest version of IE (8.0.7600) on Windows 7 does not support color profiles…

      • September 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        Hello Nasim & Jessica,

        I am using IE 9 (9.0.8) and surprisingly it appears that this version is color managed.. I cannot figure out any difference in IE 9 between the two images, whereas the current chrome that I have, the differences are substantial..

        Thanks for the info Nasim.. !!

  5. July 27, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    On my Mac running 10.5.8, both Safari 4.0.2 and Firefox 3.6.8 pass the “no difference between images” test (here and elsewhere), yet display the images very differently between them, much more saturation on Firefox. However, compared to color managed images in Photoshop, Safaris is correct, Firefox is way off! It may be that Firefox has a problem dealing with my wide-gamut monitor that Safari manages properly. Another nuance. Thanks for making this available.

    • July 29, 2010 at 3:20 am

      Rick, you are most welcome! It is interesting that you have such a difference in Firefox. I’m also using a wide-gamut monitor and Firefox 3.6.8 is showing both the same.

      • 17
        ) Rick Kelly
        July 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

        Nasim
        So I replicated the test at work, where I have an older Apple Cinema (normal gamut) monitor. All of the images are identical, on both Firefox and Safari. Same computer.

        So Firefox somehow fails when it is faced with my HP wide gamut monitor at home but works with your wide gamut monitor! Very odd, but good to learn.
        Rick

        • July 30, 2010 at 1:49 am

          Rick, is your monitor calibrated at home?

          • 19
            ) Rick Kelly
            July 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

            Both monitors are hardware calibrated.
            Rick

            • July 30, 2010 at 4:24 pm

              That is strange…I guess Firefox has a problem with wide gamut monitor profiles then. Good to know, thanks for the info! :)

  6. May 14, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I first read this post on my iPhone and the photos look different. I was surprised since I the iPhone uses Safari. Hmmm!

  7. 22
    ) mashaa
    May 20, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Hello,
    I just love the way you have said it all in this article.
    Keep up in the good work.

    There is one issue that I still have unsettled. My problem is that I have lost color settings
    both for my micro-soft and the browsers. Currently am using google chrome after Mozilla fire fox 4,
    and internet explorer stopped displaying the background colors of all the websites I visit. All what I see is a white background with no colors effect. My Microsoft office is also affected and only displays a grey background what do I do?

    Regards

  8. 24
    ) Adrian
    May 2, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Hi Nasim!

    First of all, thank you very much for this explanation on color-management in browsers. I used to work with opera and was never really happy with the results so i switched over to firefox now. I have got a Dell U2711 monitor so I downloaded the fitting profile from http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles/icc_profiles.htm and set it as default in the firefox-options and the Windows systempreferences as well. But now a new problem occurs: both pictures you mention above look perfectly the same now in firefox but they look neiter like the first nor the second one in opera. Though they tend to look more like the ProPhoto RGB with dark sky and yellowish sand but not completely the same.
    I am confused now – what did I do wrong? I expected both pictures to look like the sRBG-file as displayed in Opera with bright sky and reddish brown sands.

    I copied and pasted all four pictures (2 from ff12 and 2 from opera 11.6) to show you the difference. The results look like this now:

    http://imageshack.us/f/213/ffonl.jpg/

  9. 25
    ) zinzun
    May 8, 2012 at 5:19 am

    A question – I have checked these photos on my iPad as well as on my wide gamut monitor, ipad looks like it is not colored managed which is weird, my wide gamut monitor shows in both chrome and safari (Mac) an accurate calibrated photos. my question is – can it be that in order to see the ProPhoto RGB correctly you have to use a wide gamut monitor? if that’s the case, majority of people will see a different photo although their browser may well be a colored-managed one…

  10. 26
    ) Philip
    May 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    zinzun – I belieive your iPad shows different-looking images because iOS devices just aren’t color managed at all!

  11. 27
    ) Heinz
    June 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Your website is very helpful. I use Explorer 9 on a Windows 7×64 computer with a wide gamut monitor (NEC P221W, properly profiled).
    You know, what? The two pictures look identical.

  12. 28
    ) David B
    September 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Nasim, I have a different question. I used to shoot all my cameras with sRGB profile, but for the last six months, since I’ve been using exclusively Lightroom for my cataloging and editing, plus Photoshop, both from Adobe, I changed all my cameras to shoot in AdobeRGB. Do you think what I did make sense since I am using Adobe programs for most of my editing, to have the AdobeRGB? What are advantages and disadvantages of sRGB and/or Adobe RGB? I don’t recall if you wrote about these differences before

  13. 29
    ) Scott
    September 17, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you again for the excellent article. I have a quick question and would like to know your advise about it.

    I think my adobe lightroom gives me different colors if I encode images by different color profile. Am I missing anything? I believe that adobe lightroom should manage it well. Or is it that the color will always look quite different if I encode it by different profiles. Any suggestions would be highly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Scott

  14. 30
    ) Arun Prasad
    September 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Hi Nasim, thank you for another helpful article. I have been visiting your site almost daily, it is one amoung the best and very useful site. I have subscribed to your feeds and it is very helpful.

    I learnt a lot of things from your site; recently bought ASUS PA 238 based on your recommendation and very happy with it.

    For me, your site provides wealth of relevant information.

    Thank you so much for your effort/help.

  15. 33
    ) Marc
    October 26, 2012 at 3:03 am

    Why use prophotoRGB at all when it has lousy support? When you’re a photographer and want people to see your photo’s how they are meant. just use sRGB. Prophoto isn’t supported on tablets and phones and sRGB always is. Most monitors aren’t able to show prophotoRGB’s range anyway. Keep it in in your workflow, but don’t export it to the web.

  16. 34
    ) Paula Hutchings
    November 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Hi Nasim;
    I was interested in this article, because I have noticed the term monitor calibration – as I have seen this term before, but did not know what it really meant. I have read your other article related to monitor calibration, and it all makes sense now. The first post caught my eye because I have the same problem. The colors are a little different with the mountains showing a little more detail. I use Mozilla, and keep it up to date.
    So I did try Internet explorer and found that the mountains have a little more detail, but the colors actually appear a little different.

    After reading the other article on calibrating your monitor, I found my monitor is a PnP.
    Through this article, I found that when photography websites post their photographs, they appear oversaturated at times with sun streaks or just oversaturated in general when I view.

    Do you know about PnP monitors? (I will research a little myself).
    Also, upon receiving my computer, I found the glare from the monitor unbearable, so I bought an antiglare monitor overlay. Will this make a difference in how colors are viewed as well?
    Lastly, no wonder, I am hesitant to perform post production.
    I always feel the colors/ saturation etc are off.
    Thanks for your input.

  17. 35
    ) Paula Hutchings
    November 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I found the information I was looking for, along with the tutorial on calibrating your monitor in Windows 7!

  18. 36
    ) Brian
    December 3, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Hi Nasim ,

    I read this article, with interest.

    Colour perception is so subjective, and as you have mentioned, which browser you can use can make a significant difference!

    I have tried all most of the popular browsers, and until recently found Firefox, the best.

    However, more recently, after upgrading to Windows 8, I have found Internet Explorer 10 gives better colour rendition.

    Images that I post on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/35857078@N05/) correspond very closely to those on my monitor, using IE Ten.

    I am a keen photographer, and undertake my editing in Photoshop CS6! I always processing in 16 bit, and in ProPhoto RGB colour space.

    However, for posting on the internet, I have found it is essential to convert back to sRGB; otherwise, the browser will make the conversion, usually doing a poor job!

  19. 37
    ) Chai
    September 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I have tested firefox, Chrome & IE.
    The photos look different in all of the above browsers.
    I think I am in the same situation as what you replied to Kerry.
    I am using Windows XP and a DELL E178WFP monitor.
    Thank you for your information. I know monitor is just like any other merchandises, good one expensive; not so good one cheap. But to those manufacturers out there, I can not accept a colour monitor that can not display colours to approximate.

    • 38
      ) Marc
      September 4, 2013 at 4:50 am

      Try Opera. It’s the only one that’s color managed.

  20. 40
    ) Steve
    September 13, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Interestingly, Chrome is the only browser on my PC that shows the two images the same. Both Firefox and IE show them differently…

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