Enabling color management in Google Chrome

In my previous post, I provided a step-by-step guide to enable full color management in the Mozilla Firefox browser. While Firefox handles colors in a very respectful way, there are other browsers that cannot be setup (yet) to effectively manage colors (IE, Opera). For some time, Google Chrome was not capable of managing colors also or its setup was just undocumented. However, while there are several pages on the Internet describing how to enable color management in Chrome, results are often unreliable (read more below).

In general, the first part of troubleshooting annoying color shifts is checking that our monitor is calibrated and profiled.

This post will show modification in a simple start-up option that enables management of colors in the Chrome browser (I am intentionally avoiding the term “color management” for the reasons explained below).

When enabled, then regardless if the image is or it is not tagged with icc profile, its color interpretation will default to the computer system color space (sRGB under Windows OS) and resulting RGB values are then sent straight to the monitor. If monitor icc profile is assigned in the “Default monitor profile” section, colors will be ultimately converted to sRGB color space.

In short, for calibrated and profiled or any decent monitor, results for tagged and untagged images will be just fine. However, troubles may arise when using a wide-gamut monitor.

The setup described below will ensure that most images from the Web will be faithfully displayed on your monitor, especially on wide-gamut monitors. It is also important to note that Chrome is not color managing images in the strict sense. Instead, if enabled, it treats all images as if they were in sRGB color space. The net result is that regardless of the monitor gamut, images are displayed in the web-safe sRGB color space.

Note: Unfortunately, “color management” switch does not work on Windows 7 systems (32 bit, 64 bit). Still confirmed in Chrome 18.

Here is how to proceed (in Google Chrome browser and Win XP):

  1. Right-mouse click the Chrome icon and select Properties.
  2. Add --enable-monitor-profile at the end of the path in the Target field. Use double quotes as seen in the screenshot. 
  3. Click the OK button and restart Chrome.

That’s it. Chrome should now display images in the “web save” mode.

For users of multiple monitors or monitors with different gamut, read more !!

Unfortunately, until recently, I was not able to get the Chrome manage colors (over-saturation mostly) on my tagged images. First, I must say that I am running two monitors off the XP-SP3 computer. Moreover (complicating aspect), one of my monitors is a wide-gamut display. Both displays are calibrated and profiled and behave very good when editing photos in Photoshop on either one of them. Looking deeper into color problem in Chrome, I noticed that there is no monitor profile explicitly entered when enabling the color management (in contrast to Firefox). That leads to a question what profile is used by Chrome? It turns out that there is no profile used, but instead RGB values embedded in the image are assigned the monitor color space and then are converted to sRGB color space. However, for this transformation to happen, one has to set the default monitor profile by clicking “Set As Default” as shown in the picture below. This is not immediately intuitive, but it is important when viewing images on the wide-gamut monitor. On a standard monitor, differences are negligible.

In situation where two monitors of different gamuts are run, I suggest to set the Default profile (above) to the wide-gamut display.

Assigning sRGB as the Default monitor space under Windows (XP-SP3) causes the wide-gamut monitor to display any image (tagged or untagged) as sRGB converted image (good and safe). However, on a regular monitor, colors get desaturated in reds and greens. Assigning icc/icm monitor profile as the Default space results in conversion into (or assignment of) sRGB space on the very monitor which profile was assigned as Default. On other monitor(s), native RGB primaries are used to display the image.

In summary, for users of two or more monitors from which at least one is wide-gamut display, set the “Default monitor profile” in Windows to the wide-gamut monitor profile and have the Chrome to display images on that same wide-gamut monitor.

4 Responses — Written on November 19, 2011 — Filed in: Software

4 Responses

  1. Andrew J. Gephart on November 28, 2011, 3:28 am Reply

    A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Set off on to way

  2. George Myers on May 11, 2013, 11:25 am Reply

    Much thanks for the color management tip for Google Chrome. We love Chrome but the color issues were extremely annoying. Again thanks!!

  3. Luke Flegg on May 23, 2014, 12:54 pm Reply

    My good lord. Thank you SO MUCH. Chrome, Canary and Firefox ALL displayed colours completely wrong. Insanely red! Only IE was displaying them right. I had no idea why and until now found no lead on how to solve it. Thanks. Luke

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