Web Browsers and Colour Management

25th September 2017 Colour Management & Lighting


As of late 2017, web browser colour management has - on the desktop at least - improved quite a bit, with most of the major browsers supporting colour management in their most recent versions.

However, most tablets and phone browsers still do not support colour management.

What Should Happen

If a browser is displaying an image without an embedded colour profile, the image should be assumed to be in sRGB and the image should undergo a standard sRGB to monitor profile transformation. (The assumption should be sRGB as it is by far the most likely colour space for the image to be in).

If a browser is displaying an image with an embedded colour profile, the image should undergo the standard image profile to monitor profile transformation (and would then appear identically to that same image being displayed in Photoshop).

(Specifically, these ICC transformations should arguably by default be done with Relative Colorimetric intent, but definitely Perceptual or RC should be used over Absolute Colorimetric or Saturation).

What Does Happen

Browser support for colour management has improved a lot by late 2017.

  • Chrome

    Latest desktop versions of Chrome now support colour management.

  • FireFox

    Firefox desktop versions have for quite some time supported ICC colour management.  However, you should check your settings to be sure it is turned on, and configured correctly...whilst Firefox gives you more control than any other browser, it's default settings are not the best.

    You can also reach these settings by typing about:config into the Firefox address bar.

    Use this table of settings to achieve your desired behaviour, and we have shown our recommended setting in each case:

    Setting NamePossible SettingsEffect of Each Setting
    gfx.color_management.display_profilePath to display profile e.g. C:\WINDOWS\system32\
    spool\drivers\color\Monitor.icc
    Sets the specific display profile to be used
    Nothing (default)Recommended: Default system display profile will be used
    gfx.color_management.mode0Disables colour management
    1Recommended: Colour manage all images (assume untagged images are in sRGB)
    2 (default)Only colour manage images with embedded icc profiles
    gfx.color_management.rendering_intent-1Use intent specified in embedded icc profiles
    0 (default)Perceptual
    1Recommended: Relative Colorimetric
    2Relative Colorimetric
    3Absolute Colorimetric
    gfx.color_management.enablev4trueRecommended: enable ICC V4 support
    falseDisable ICC V4 Support
  • Safari

    Supports colour management.

    However on the Mac platform, Safari apparently assumes the monitor profile for images without an embedded profile - which is a truly bizarre choice and means that for all untagged images the display will be incorrect - so really Safari is in many ways not colour managed at all on the Mac!

    Oddly, on Windows, the assumed profile for untagged images is, correctly, sRGB - meaning rather ironically that the Mac browser offers significantly better colour management performance when run on Windows!

  • Microsoft Edge

    Supports colour management.

  • Internet Explorer

    Version 11 supports colour management.

    Older versions: No or only broken support for colour management.

  • Others / Mobile Browsers

    Mobile browsers: In general, these do not support colour management.  

    Other Desktop Browsers - unpredictable - webkit based browsers may offer colour management, but most likely won't. IE based browsers don't.

  • Summary

    Use an up to date, modern browser and on your desktop computer you will generally have support for colour management (if you're using Firefox, check it's settings).

    However, mobile browsers on iOS and Android, and lesser known desktop browsers still generally do not support colour management.