Firefox Colour Management

Uploading some new photos to Flickr this morning I noticed that while the colours seemed vibrant in Photoshop and iPhoto, by the time they got to Flickr they had lost that vibrancy.

Thinking the problem was the FlickrExport plugin for iPhoto, or iPhoto itself (I resize the images for upload too, so there is a conversion in there), I tried re-uploading the image scaled in Photoshop. Same thing.

So, I think, perhaps it is the browser… Sure enough, firing up Safari showed the red rose with the vibrancy of the original Photoshop. I had an old version of Firefox though, so I upgraded to the latest, and also installed the latest stable Camino as well. Still the same thing in Firefox, and Camino was also rendering the same dull version.

The photo on the right is a mix of two screen captures of the same image (from the Flickr page). The top is Safari, the bottom is Firefox.

Next, search to see if anybody else is reporting this issue. I found a post on Antipixel’s blog from over two years ago commenting on the same effect. I checked his post in Firefox and Safari, and sure enough the photo he included is still dull in Firefox by comparison.

21 thoughts on “Firefox Colour Management

  1. I never really figured this out and didn’t test carefully to see how various browsers handle embedded profiles (but suspect that it is indeed related to this).

    In the comments on the post of mine you link to, Resonance suggested the ColorMatchRGB profile which might give better consistency.

    Going to have to revisit this and try to get to the bottom of it.

  2. never noticed this before (i tend not to use safari much) and was quite surprised at how obvious the difference was in the antipixel site. so i checked my latest in both firefox and safari and also fired up the small image in photoshop. interesting: neither browser gets it right, although safari is closer.

  3. Yup, I’ve spent a few days trying to figure out the color management profiles from iphoto/CS2/monitor. I tried different combinations of colorsync turned off in iphoto with no embedded color profiles before I brought my photo into CS2. I then did my image manipulations and saved out the .jpg with an sRGB profile. Looks the same in photoshop as it does in iphoto. Used the iphoto plugin to upload to flickr. When viewed in firefox, colors are way desaturated. Finally I came across a thread about browser color profile differences. Naturally I opened up Safari and pow, it’s exactly the same as I see it in CS2 and iphoto. Since 80% of people out there are not using Safari, how can I adjust for this???


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  5. A solution is to use Photoshop’s “Conver to Profile…”, to convert to the sRGB colour space (see my comment here:, and note that in CS2 “Convert to Profile…” is in the Edit menu.)

    This is a pain in the arse though. I like that I can edit most of my photos using iPhoto and I don’t want to have to change the colour space of each photo in Photoshop.

    The search goes on…

  6. Help me please…
    I just installed Firefox 2.0, and all of a sudden, my username/password isn't being inserted in the signon window (it always was before). I tried the usual suspects–I did not mistakenly tell FF not to remember the password for this site; and I also tried the remember password bookmarklet, but all to no avail–FF will not ask me to remember this password. What do I need to do to get around this?

  7. stumbled across this post as I was looking to see if there was a plug in for better color management for Firefox.

    The problem is profile mismatching… the color is lost in translation. Firefox interprets everything as if it were sRGB (Standard)
    As another poster said, If you want safe color, make sure you are color managing and use sRGB. S stands for standard (to the best of my knowledge) and your color will show up the same on every browser.

    The ideal solution though would be if Firefox could “understand” a few more color spaces. Spaces like Adobe RGB or better yet: Pro Photo offer a much larger color space.

  8. I’ve been researching this as well. I do websites for a few artists and it’s very important to them that their work is well represented online. sRGB IEC61966-2.1 is the profile to use – and make sure you’re not assigning the profile but rather CONVERTING the profile, and then using the save for web feature. It’s a pain in the arse, I know. Rob is correct tho – it’s simply the fact that these browsers are only meant to handle a standard rgb profile, it’s not like they were made with this kind of stuff in mind. Kind of interesting that Apple had it in mind when they engineered Safari – everything looks more lush when viewed through Safari.

  9. Charlie et al – that’s not quite right. I always convert my images to sRGB before I upload them, and they always look much flatter in Firefox than they do in Safari.

  10. Anthony, concerning your last sentence, I think this is due to your “Monitor Profile” to which the sRGB images are adapted before going on-screen : things will look identical (but ugly) in safari/firefox if you choose the “sRGB profile” for your monitor in System Prefs->Display->Color.

  11. The problem with using sRGB as your monitor profile is that the sRGB profile does not accuratly describe the characteristics of your profile. A color management system uses your display profile to tell it how to display colors and, idealy, you’ve created the display profile using a colorimeter to measure the real-world peformance of the display.

    Try this. In Photoshop, use View > Proof Setup menu to soft-proof your sRGB image in “Monitor RGB”. This will preview the Firefox dullness for you in Photoshop. A program using color management (like Photoshop, if it’s configured to) or Safari, will convert the sRGB color profiled images to your monitor profile on display. Proofing in monitor color will show you what happens when you just send the color information to the screen w/o using color management–which is what it appears Firefox does.

    If you use the sRGB profile as your monitor profile, Photoshop, Safari and Firefox may suddenly all show you the same colors. Congratulations, you’ve just created a color management system that works great–but only one one computer: yours. Anyone else viewing the images with Safari and a good monitor profile will see something different.

  12. whoops, above I meant to say “…describest he characterisitics of your *display*” not “profile.”

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  14. I use Aperture and found that I had to export using the Generic RGB profile rather than sRGB to get the colors to look good.

  15. As of now, Safari is the only browser that supports color profiles and therefore displays correctly what you see in Photoshop, iPhoto/Aperture, etc. All other browsers are “dumb” and don’t know what color profiles are and will just ignore them. There’s a bit light at the end of the tunnel when FireFox 3.0 will be released, as it finally supports color profiles. IE? Well, maybe version 8 or 9 if you’re lucky… not to mention that Microsoft finally got color profile handling done at OS level with Windows Vista (was implemented by Apple in the classic Mac OS decades ago).

    The fact that not always the good things succeed with the majority, we’re now looking at a web that’s largely dominated by “dumb” browsers that can’t handle color right. As a pain it is to say this but yes, you do have to adjust your monitor to the PC-Gamma and you have to adjust and export your images to sRGB and make them look good in a browser that CAN’T handle color profiles :o(

    For an explanation of why things are the way they are, read Apple’s own support document ( that further references a photographer’s tutorial of how to calibrate and export for the web (

    I hope this helps, as heartbreaking this may be… :o(

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