Is Your Browser Color Managed?

Is your browser color managed? If not, the photographs you are looking at are distorted versions of what their creators intended them to be. Is the car above rendered in school bus yellow, or in a jarring purple?

If you’re seeing purple, it means your browser does not respect ICC color profiles. Most browsers today support color management but every browser is different. Here is how six different browsers on my Windows 7 system display the aforementioned image:

Top row, left to right: Safari 5, IE9, Firefox 12: Bottom row: Maxthon 3, Chrome 19, Opera 11

Note that even the browsers that recognize nonstandard color profiles don’t all implement the monitor color profile the same way, with each successive browser bringing up the black levels (and IE9 really pumps the saturation!). Note also that every browser tested in OSX correctly implements ICC profiles once an image is fully loaded.

What you as a photographer can do to minimize this:

  1. Always save your work as sRGB and embed it’s color profile if it’s going to be displayed on the web.
  2. Recommend to Windows clients a browser that supports both ICC color profiles AND monitor color profiles (like safari)
  3. If all else fails: send prints or demonstrate your photos in person on a device you have vetted.

Just be careful out there people, what you see isn’t always what the other guy sees!

About the author: Mitchel Frick is a photographer and web developer. Visit his Flickr page here

  • JosephRT

    Wow, never realized it could be this bad off. Thanks for the tip!

  • Alex Maskovyak

    I’m using Chrome Version 19.0.1084.56 and it most certainly is not purple. 

  • Nick

    Interesting… I’m viewing on the new (latest) version of iPad with embedded Safari, and the main image is purple. Is iPad Safari not color managed?

  • Jens Hamada

    it´s a shame that in 2012 the browsers are not full color managed.

    but what to expect when even viewers like acdsee 5 are based on the faulty microsoft color management!

    you spend a lot of money for a full color managed system and then buggy software and lazy coders ruin it.

  • Romain Massola

    I’m on a Win7 PC with the same version of Chrome than you and the picture IS purple on my computer !

  • Jon Christopher

    I’m using the same version and it is purple. 
    Chrome 19.0.1084.56 Windows 7 64-bit.

  • Mikeyurche

    On my iPad (latest) it also shows as purple on Safari and Atomic web browsers.

  • Nick

    With a quick search, it appears that the iPad is not color managed. That’s a shame.

  • Chris

    It’s actually even more complicated than that.  Your image is how an image with an embedded profile is displayed.  There’s actually a distinct, and only somewhat less interesting, issue of how an image with no embedded profile is displayed on a color managed display.  The de facto internet standard is sRGB and some browsers will re-render an image with no profile (which is most of them) from sRGB into the display’s profile but some browsers will assume that the image designed magically knew your display’s color profile and just display it as described, which will make sRGB colors very muted on your wide-gamut monitor.

  • Chris Lyn

    Are you using it on a Mac?

    From article: “Note also that every browser tested in OSX correctly implements ICC profiles once an image is fully loaded.”

  • Jake

    I’ve got Chrome 19.0.1084.56 and Mac OS 10.6.8.  Mine starts out purple, but after a second, it changes to natural once it’s loaded.  I’ve also noticed that many pictures, especially very colorful ones with a lot of red start out looking nice, but once fully loaded, they become extra-saturated and ugly.  What gives?

  • jdm8

    I’m using OS X Lion on a Mac, with Chrome 19, and it does show properly.

  • René Damkot

    IE9 is probably over saturated because it doesn’t use the monitor profile: It assumes sRGB for monitor. So it’s not color managed either ;)

    Firefox is the only of these six that works as it should (assume sRGB for untagged images), if you set it to fully colormanage. 

  • Collene Tsai

    you spend a lot of money for a full color managed system and then buggy software and/or lazy coders ruin it.

  • Michael Thompson

    Internet exploder, firefox and safari all display the image correctly on my Win7 x64 system. Chrome however, does not.

  • Mads

    22.0.1186.0 canary is color managed. Shows up in correct autumn colors.

  • Tim Gander

    Chrome on my Mac is a disaster. Purple hue on everything, including black and whites unless they’re greyscale but it doesn’t always suit me to create greyscale images for web and there’s no colour control on Chrome settings. I’m glad it’s not just me!

  • Patrick Day

    Interesting.  the images in the sample were showing that IE was a bit more saturated on the red.  I just did a side by side (windows 7) for IE and firefox.  They pretty much look identical on my monitor.  

  • Igogosh

    iPhone 4 doesn’t support that color profile and displays the main image purple
     by the way

  • Lug

    Cool, Jeffrey Friedl writing for Petapixel !!

  • Guiie

    I do not understand the recommendations to minimize this. You can have the best color management in your favorite browser and still the end user will not have a calibrated monitor.

    Your recommendations should be something like “If you are trying to be a serious professional photographer you should understand that your perfectly calibrated monitor with your perfect color managed workflow or the prints you make with your calibrated profiles and specially picked papers are the only way to showcase your work”.

    Everything beneath that is useless because it always lacks one step to be serious. Quick galleries and email attached photos are widely use to showcase a concept or maybe a composition but never as a final image product.

  • jdm8

    While we’re at it, are these photos set that way to make it clear the test condition passes / fails?  It seems pretty odd that the colors are so far off without the color management.

  • Fake Name

    Works correctly in Chrome Canary 22.0.1186.0 on Windows 7

  • John Godfrey

    But does not work in Chrome 19.0.1084.56 m on Windows 7 (which is the latest release per automatic updates from those who don’t know how to get Chrome Canary.) But glad to hear it’s coming I guess.

  • mrbeard

    i dont understand, my non photography work pc is using internet explorer 7 and the image is purple but every other image i look at on the net/blogs/flickr/google looks correct.

  • zachawry

    Umm, that Flickr page has nothing to do with Jeffrey Friedl.

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    Uh, that’s my original photo, but I didn’t write this article or produce the screenshots. I don’t use Flickr.

    That image came from this blog post:
    Another Day of Amazing Fall Colors in Kyoto

    Or from this one:
    So Much For That Glorious iPad Screen: iOS and its Apps are Not Even Color Managed

    I wrote that kind of article almost six years ago:
    Digital-Image Color Spaces, Page 1: Introduction

    Again, I don’t use Flickr; I post stuff on my blog:

    I have no idea who wrote this PetaPixel article.

  • Jeffrey Friedl

    Okay, so you’ve changed the name of the author to someone else, so this article now accurately reflects that I didn’t write it, but still, don’t you think it would have been good form to ask permission before stripping the copyright notice from my image and publishing it here? I mean, you know, photographer to photographer?

    If you would have asked, I’m sure you would have asked nicely, and I’m sure I would have said “yes”, but you’ve got to go through that little dance or you look like a hypocrite every time you ever talk about copyright.

  • Lisette Rozenberg

    Wow, I checked it at my workscreen and it was really purple! I thought you were kidding! But when I came home I checked it on my mac and the colours are perfect here!

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  • zachawry

    Ahh….I see you decided to steal Jeffrey Friedl’s observations and just changed the pictures, as giving him photo credit would have been too much to ask. Bravo! (You even kept his purple color scheme!)

  • Michael Zhang

    We have a separate post featuring Jeffrey’s article:

  • James Bong

    Looks like the same problem in the standard browser for Android 4.

  • Blam

    Its not this bad off. This is a color profile made to show if something uses color profiles or defaults to srgb. 

  • Dragon

    Am I the only one who can see all of the above images perfectly? Using Windows 7 with Water Fox 64 Bit browser. I say you apple fanatics need to move to a better OS and Browser.

  • Mark Dickinson

    I am using chrome on mac, and when it first loaded it was purple and whatever… then after the image loaded it was color described yellow and red. This is on chrome who is not supposed to be color balanced. I think theres a flaw somehow

  • Mark Dickinson

    same,, but i noticed a flash of purple when it first loaded.

  • Hombre

    Safari on iphone 4S latest model is NOT color managed…car shows as purple.

  • Kellie Jones

    I’ve got the latest update on chrome and it is purple I open in safari it’s school bus yellow.

  • Joel

    Think of it like sending a photo to your printer, if you don’t have a color management and the right paper you aren’t going to get consistent results.

    It’s really quite simple to prevent this:

    1. Always convert to sRGB for web (ALWAYS!)

    2. If you must send clients an image that is not sRGB send them the actual jpg file and get them to view it outside of a browser. (Their color management might still suck, but it will never turn the car purple!)

  • JohnLF

    I can confirm on Windows 7 that Google Chrome (v21.0.1180.89) renders purple but the beta Google Chrome Canary (v24.0.1273.0) renders yellow.

  • dave

    Huh??? Image displays correctly on all mac browsers …. (but not mobile devices as per the comments)

  • Dave Bell

    I’m a bit late to the party, but it looks proper on Chrome Version 22.0.1229.94 m on Windows 7 as well as Version 22.0.1229.94 on OS X Mountain Lion, but I’ve got a purple car both on the newest iPad with iOS 6, and my Android phone running ICS.

  • Danny Garside

    So apparently android (HTC ChaCha) isn’t colour managed…

  • JimmyDee

    I’m having the same problem with my website. The site works fine on all PC browsers. On mobile (non-color managed according to this test), the colors of the site are WILDLY inaccurate. I can’t understand why web colors (a mix of #HTML values, RGB() values and PNGs) are affected by this problem of color profiles.

  • Marco

    Nice post!