How to enable Color Management in Firefox 3+

Update: Firefox 3.5 has Color Management enabled by default. However it has bugs and will only support color profiles as specified by ICC v2, later versions will add support for ICC v4. Users viewing images using ICC v2 color profiles on monitors with wide gamut levels may find them to look more saturated (darker) than expected.

Getting the right colors in a photograph is very essential to any photographers. We spend time calibrating our monitors just to get the closest color rendering possible right. But things don’t just end there. We’re glad our monitors and computers are calibrated but what about the people on the other end of the spectrum who are viewing our photographs from their computers and monitors. Although you may be working on an extremely clear display with great colour balance, someone else might be viewing it on a cheap web-enabled phone. Once that image goes down an O2 Broadband line and up someone else’s pipes, it’s uncertain how it’ll turn out elsewhere. For this reason it’s important to calibrate with others in mind. Just like print, we are keen on how the colors and photos would come out but computers is another matter. Here’s where browser color management goes to the rescue.

Each digital photos have embedded ICC Profile (What is an ICC? Check here) and some programs like Adobe Photoshop and editing software can read this. However among all the available browsers out there only two browsers, Mozilla Firefox 3+ and Apple Safari, that currently reads ICC Profiles from photographs and render them correctly on user’s browsers. This enables the photos to have much richer and vibrant colors and closer to what each photographer intended it to be.

Apple Safari has Color Management enabled upon install, in Mozilla Firefox 3+, you have to enable it first. There are actually two ways to go about this.

The first method on is Manual Configuration . I first learned this from Nino of DPP and requires some configuration tweaks. Here are the steps:

  1. In the address bar, type “about:config” and press Enter/Return. A warning message will show. If you are comfortable with this click “I’ll be careful, I promise” otherwise, skip to the second method.

    Entering Mozilla Firefox Configuration
    Entering Mozilla Firefox Configuration

  2. Type “gfx” in the Filter field to shorten the list of configurations.
  3. By default, the Value for gfx.color_management.enabled is set to False, double-click anywhere on that line to change the setting to True.
  4. Restart Firefox 3 and color management should be enabled. If you are not sure whether color management is working, I suggest you do  an icc browser check here by viewing the photos here. The main photo is divided in 4 quadrants each with their on profiles. If the browser is already color managed, the image should be seamless. You can compare results with other un-colored managed browsers like Internet Explorer, Opera or Google Chrome.
Enabling Mozilla Firefox Configuration
Enabling Mozilla Firefox Configuration

The second method is as easy as installing a Color Management Plugin which you can find here. It simply provides an interface option for you to enable by clicking a check box. Another thing about this plugin is you can provide your own ICC profile to use as well.

Firefox Color Management Plugin
Firefox Color Management Plugin

With that all set, you can enjoy browsing photos on the net. What better way to start is to browse through my portfolio. Enjoy!

4 Comments

  1. Interesting…alas we have a long way to go…be assured that all your pictures are looking quite different from one monitor to another… even on people who have calibrated screens (there are still too many factors playing a role). And now it seems it also depends on the browser you use… sigh …

  2. Hi Sidney! I agree, there are so many factors to consider as well aside from Browser Color management but also the monitor configuration and the type of screen they are using. But at least for this one we’re taking the steps to make sure our photographs look somehow closer to how we intended it to be.

  3. I’ve got the new Firefox 3.5 and there is no “gfx.color_management.enabled” option, and the plugin says it’s only for Firefox 3.0. Any suggestions on what I can do?


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