Monday, January 16, 2012

Chrome suddenly color managed

This one snuck by me. I have complained many times in the past about deficiencies in browser color management. Chrome and Firefox are seen wavering back and forth all the time. I recently lamented the fact that Chrome was not color managed. However, I happened to open it recently and noticed that the color was not off as I was used to on my wide gamut screen (Chrome version 16.0.912.75). In fact it looked 'normal'! So I quickly whipped up a comparison between browser and the gold standard in color management: Photoshop. The screenshot was converted from my monitor profile to sRGB for web display.

As you can see, contrary to my previous post using Chrome 13, it is now color managed! This is great news as we now have three browsers that are color managed, at least on Mac OS X. I understand that on Windows, the latest Chrome is not yet color managed, which if true, is a shame. Nevertheless, this is a great development and a return to what I called "web browser bliss" years ago, but what was dampened from that initial optimism since then because of regressions at Mozilla and Google. Here is to hoping that the last holdout IE, which still does not convert to the display profile as it should, will at some time join 21st century even if 2012 is a little late for finally doing what was proposed by Microsoft themselves in 1996.

Finally, by checking the icc v4 testing page in all browsers, I can now report the following for the browser versions current at the date of posting:
Browser icc v2 compliant? icc v4 compliant? converts to display profile? assumes sRGB for untagged images?
Safari yes yes yes no
Chrome yes yes yes no
Firefox yes no yes (some v4 profiles work!) no (yes with secret setting enabled)

In conclusion, if you are on a Mac and care about color rendering, I can now heartily recommend Chrome next to Firefox and Safari.


  1. On Windows (latest Chrome) it is:

    no, no, yes*, sort of yes**

    (*secret switch)
    (**since Chrome does not read embedded profiles at all, it assumes sRGB for everything, even it is a tagged AdobeRGB or whatever).

    And it's been so since I started using Chrome.

    At least, for the majority of web content — sRGB (tagged or untagged) — the color is correct.

  2. Also, there seems to be a performance penalty with color management on. I have long ago noticed that scrolling in Chrome is no as smooth as in Firefox (even with CM on) or IE.

    It turns out that with CM, Chrome does not use hardware video acceleration. With CM off, Chrome easily achieves over 100 fps (with V-Sync off). With CM on - scrolling is so-so.

  3. Thanks for the info Dorin. I was aware the Chrome for windows had a scret flag that you could trigger to make it color magae everything as sRGB and use the monitor profile. The Mac version didn't do it, even though for a short while it actually color managed correctly simply by using the Mac OS X system libraries for this but that was removed a while ago. It appears Chrome for Mac has now returned to doing it the right way.
    Interestingly, using the secret flag on Chrome for windows makes it behave almost the exact opposite of Internet Explorer which supposedly (can't check unfortunately) does understand embedded icc profiles, but does not at all translate to the monitor profile, so IE would be yes, yes, no, sort off. So IE is still the worst of the bunch.

  4. Yep. IE9 reads profiles (but does not convert to screen space). Will check IE7 at work tomorrow.