Color management settings: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about color management. You can also find additional information about color management at the Microsoft Image Color Management website.

Hiển thị tất cả

What is color management?

Color management systems ensure that color content is rendered everywhere as accurately as possible—including devices such as your display and your printer.

Why is color management needed?

Different device types tend to possess different color characteristics and capabilities. Displays, for instance, can't show the same set of colors that a printer can reproduce. This is because of the fundamentally different processes each device uses to produce color content. Scanners and cameras have different color characteristics as well. Even different programs sometimes interpret and process colors differently. Without a consistent color management system, the same picture can look different on each of these devices. The appearance of color content also depends upon the viewing conditions (such as ambient lighting). This is because the human eye adapts differently to different conditions, even when viewing the same picture.

As a result, color management maintains the relationships within color content so that an acceptable appearance can be achieved on devices with different color capabilities and across different viewing conditions. This requires color management systems to control the relationships between the device characteristics and the viewing conditions to produce acceptable results.

What are color profiles?

A color profile is a file that describes the color characteristics of a specific device while it is in a particular state. Profiles can also carry additional information that defines viewing conditions or gamut-mapping methods. Working with your computer's color management system, color profiles help ensure that color content is acceptably rendered, regardless of device or viewing condition. Color profiles are used in a color management system to create color transforms. Programs use these color transforms to convert color from one device’s color space to another. When a new device is added to your computer, the color profile for that device is often installed automatically.

What is a color space?

A color space is a three-dimensional model in which the hue, lightness, and chroma of colors are graphed to represent the rendering capabilities of a device.

When should I change the color management settings?

Since the default color management settings are usually satisfactory, you should only change these settings if you have specific color management requirements that are not being met by your current settings. These options are generally meant for use by color professionals.

You might want to change your color management settings if you want to do any of these things:

  • Add or remove a color profile.

  • Associate one or more different color profiles with one of your devices.

  • Change the default color profile for one of your devices.

  • Change the system default color settings for a specific device for all users on the computer.

  • Change your default rendering intent or color space default.

Where do I go to change my computer's color management settings?

You can change your computer's color management settings by opening Color Management in Control Panel.

  • Open Color Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Color Management.

How do I add a color profile for one of my devices?

Color profiles are usually added automatically during the installation of new devices. Color profiles may also be added by color management tools, such as calibration devices for monitors. As a result, it's likely that profiles for your devices already exist. However, if you need to install a new profile, follow these steps:

  1. Open Color Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Color Management.

  2. Click the All Profiles tab, and then click Add.

  3. Locate and select the new color profile, and then click Add.

Why would a device have more than one color profile?

A color profile represents the color characteristics of a specific device in a particular state. Any change that results in a change to the color behavior of a device might require a separate profile. In addition, profiles can be optimized for different kinds of projects. A printer might come with several profiles, for instance, each one designed for a different kind of paper or ink.

How do I choose a color profile to associate with a device?

If you have more than one profile for a device installed, you can specify which profile (or profiles) to use for a specific project. To do this:

  1. Open Color Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Color Management.

  2. Click the Devices tab.

  3. From the Device list, select the color device that you want to associate with one or more color profiles.

  4. Select the Use my settings for this device check box, and then click Add.

  5. In the Associate Color Profile dialog box, do one or both of the following:

    • If you want to use a color profile that’s already installed on your computer, click the color profile in the list, and then click OK.

    • If you want to use a custom color profile that isn’t installed on your computer, click Browse, locate the custom color profile that you want to use, and then click Add.

      The selected color profile (or profiles) is now associated with the device and can be used by programs that use Windows color management to describe the color characteristics of that device. If you want the newly associated color profile to be the default color profile for the selected device, click Set as Default Profile.

Note

  • Your picture or graphic editing program may also allow you to choose color profiles. When you make changes to the color settings in those programs, the settings are usually used in that program only.

What can I do after I associate one or more color profiles with a device?

After associating a color profile (or profiles) with a device, you can do the following with the new color device association by clicking the Profiles button in the Color Management dialog box. Any changes you make affect the color settings for the current user account and the selected device only.

  • To merge the current system default color settings that the device uses with the current set of profiles that you associated with the device, click Profiles, and then click Combine my settings with system defaults.

  • If you decide that you don’t want to use the color profiles that you associated with the device and want to use the system default color settings instead, click Profiles, and then click Reset my settings to the system defaults, or clear the Use my settings for this device check box.

  • To save the association between the selected device and the current set of profiles that it uses, click Profiles, and then click Save associations. In the File name box, type a name for the device association, and then click Save.

    After saving the device association file, you can load it later on to go back to those color settings for the selected device. For example, you might have saved different device association files for multiple projects and want to quickly switch color settings by loading a different device association file. Each device association file contains information about which color profile was the default in that set of profiles when the file was saved.

  • To load a device association file so that the selected device uses the color settings that are specified in the association file, click the Profiles button, and then click Load associations. Locate and select the saved association file, and then click Open.

How do I change the default color settings for a specific device for all users on the computer?

If you want to change the system default colors for a specific device so that the color settings are used by all users on the computer who are using the default color settings, do the following (Note that to change the system default color settings, you need to be an administrator or a member of the Administrators group):

  1. Open Color Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Color Management.

  2. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Change System Defaults.

  3. From the Device list, select the color device that you want to associate with one or more color profiles for all users on the computer that are using the default color settings for that device.

  4. Do one or more of the following:

    • If you want to add a new color profile for the selected device, click Add, and then go to step 5.

    • If you want remove a color profile for the selected device, click the color profile, and then click Remove. To continue, go to step 6.

    • If you want to make a color profile the default profile for the selected device, click the color profile that you want to set as the default, and then click Set as Default Profile. To continue, go to step 6.

  5. In the Associate Color Profile dialog box, do one or both of the following:

    • If you want to specify a color profile that’s already installed on the computer, click the color profile in the list, and then click OK.

    • If you want to specify a custom color profile that isn’t already installed on the computer, click Browse, locate the custom color profile, and then click Add.

      The selected color profile (or profiles) is now associated with the device and will be used describe the color characteristics of that device.

  6. Do one of the following (Optional):

    • To save the association between the selected device and the current set of profiles that it uses, click Profiles, and then click Save associations. In the File name box, type a name for the device association, and then click Save.

    • To load a device association file so that the selected device uses the color settings that are specified in the association file, click the Profiles button, and then click Load associations. Locate and select the saved association file, and then click Open.

  7. Close the Color Management – System Defaults dialog box.

  8. Close the Color Management dialog box.

    Now, if the default color settings aren’t already being used (which means that the Use my settings for this device check box is selected), the user will be notified when they open Color Management that the system default color settings have been changed. At that time, a user can choose to merge those changes with their own settings or reset their color settings to match the new system default color settings for the selected device.

What is WCS?

WCS, which stands for the Windows Color System, is an advanced color management system found in the newest versions of Windows. While supporting ICC (International Color Consortium) profile–based color management, WCS provides advanced capabilities not found in existing ICC color management systems.

Why do the color management settings include entries for both WCS and ICC profiles?

Windows continues to support both WCS and ICC profiles to provide you with the greatest variety of choices for customizing color management options and color workflows.

I see a setting for "default rendering intent" on the Advanced Tab in Color Management. What is rendering intent and should I ever change its default setting?

A rendering intent determines how colors are represented when changing from one device (and consequently, color space) to another. You can think of rendering intent as a style of rendering colors; it is the approach that Windows uses to choose the right colors when displaying or printing.

Most graphics editing programs let you specify a rendering intent for an image. If your program does not, you can specify the default rendering intent that's used. There are four common rendering intents that cover the most common uses. Depending upon the rendering intent, the appearance of a picture will be different, since Windows will use a different range of available colors to render it. These are the four rendering intents in common use:

Rendering intent Common use
Rendering intent

Perceptual (photo images)

Common use

Best for photographic images. When colors are converted from one device's color space to another, the relationship between colors is maintained. This is the initial default rendering intent setting for Windows Vista.

Rendering intent

Relative Colorimetric (line art)

Common use

Best when a few specific colors must be matched exactly, such as when rendering logo graphics. This is also the best choice for the last transformation stage in print previews. The colors that fall within the allowable color space of both devices are left unchanged, but other colors may change, resulting in compressed color tone. The relative colorimetric rendering intent will map white from the source device color space to white in the destination device color space.

Rendering intent

Absolute Colorimetric (simulate paper)

Common use

Best for use in the last transformation stage when making page proofs where you want to represent the paper color in the output. Absolute colorimetric intent differs from relative colorimetric intent in that white in the source color space is not mapped to white in the destination color space.

Rendering intent

Saturation (charts and graphs)

Common use

Best for business graphics in which vividness is more important than realistic color, such as with business charts and graphs. When colors are converted from one device's color space to another, the relative hue is maintained, but colors may shift.

Note

  • The Advanced tab also allows you to specify a mapping between WCS gamut-mapping model profiles and the four common rendering intents. In general, you should only change these rendering intent mappings if you have installed third-party WCS plug-in gamut-mapping methods and you want to use those instead of the default WCS gamut mapping. Most users will never need to change these settings.