Color or Colour Management Problems and Firefox 3.5

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I’m putting this here to help anyone else out there who uses a colour managed workflow and has found problems with Firefox 3.5. This is primarily for people using Mac OSX, but the same principles will apply to Windows users.

I am now using Firefox 3.5.2 which seems to work fine for my needs.

The first thing to note, is that Firefox may not accurately pick up your monitor’s active profile, which can mean that colours will never be rendered correctly. So, the first thing to have a look at is the monitor profile that Firefox thinks is the correct one.

In the address bar type

about:config

You will get a warning about impending doom, but just click the confirmation button, and get into the bear pit! Once you can see a long list of settings just type into the Filter box:

color

This should narrow things down to just the settings related to color (obvious really!)

gfx.color_management.display_profile

The above key should point to your currently active profile icc file. If it doesn’t, then you need to change it so it does. When I upgraded Firefox, it was still pointing at “/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/DELL 2408WFP-1 Standard” the default profile that installed with my Dell monitor, which meant that anything in sRGB was waaayy too over saturated. I changed this to “/Users/steves/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/DELL_2408WFP-1_Custom_RGB_Spyder”, which is my calibrated profile.

The next thing to check is that you have the right settings for

gfx.color_management.mode

This has three settings

  • 0 = No color management (firefox 3.0 default)
  • 1 = Full color management (tagged images and CSS/rendered as sRGB)
  • 2 = Tagged images only (default for Firefox 3.5)

Setting 1 is interesting, as it is something that many graphic designers have screamed for – namely rendering CSS content in the sRGB colourspace. Currently, no other browser is capable of doing this, but I feel many will follow suite in time. Basically this means that if you have a graphic which contains a solid #AABBCC fill, then it will look exactly like a CSS container filled with the same colour. Try this on any other browser currently and you will see two different colours on screen.

ICC Version 4 Not Welcome!

Also, be aware that Firefox will not currently work (as at build 3.5.2) with ICC V4 monitor profiles. I found this out after much gnashing of teeth the other day, and ended up re-calibrating my monitor and saving the resulting profile as a V2 file. Once I did this, then everything worked fine again.

An excellent page which describes all this with examples is G Ballards excellent essay.

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