One important element when working with images, video and even when playing games, is color. Every monitor has a different color profile, rendering it slightly different from other displays. It's important to make sure that the colors your monitor displays are as close to reality as possible. That's why you should always install your monitor's correct color profile. In this tutorial we will explain what color profiles are, why they matter and how to install them in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. If we made you curious enough to learn more, don't hesitate to read on.
What Is A Color Profile?
Color profiles are pretty complex to define, especially by people who don't work a lot with image and video editing or photography. Therefore we will try to summarize the best we can:
A color profile is a set of data which defines a device working with colors, and how this device displays colors. Such devices are monitors, printers, scanners, etc. Each device has its own way of managing colors. Therefore, without the correct color profiles being installed and used, it can happen that the colors of an image you view on your monitor will be very different from those you see if you print the image. To make sure such differences do not occur, and you actually see the real colors used in an image, you need to install the color profiles for the devices working with colors on your computer.
Printers and scanners install their appropriate color profiles together with their official drivers. That's why the only component you need to worry about is your monitor. People rarely install drivers for them and this translates into your monitor not using a correct color profile. Therefore, you get the differences in color we mentioned earlier.
Installing the correct color profile can be also useful for gamers, who can be sure that they see the colors intended by game developers.
If you want a more detailed and friendly explanation on color profiles and their importance, we highly recommend you to read this guide: Overview of Color Management.
How To Find The Appropriate Color Profile?
Generally, the best location to get a color profile, (assuming you don't have a color calibrator handy) is from the manufacturer of your monitor. Usually, these files are found on either a CD that came with your monitor, or are available for download from your manufacturer's support site. In our case, the monitor we use for our test computer is an LG Flatron IPS234.
Another thing to remember is that, if you search for "color profile" and specify your monitor model, chances are you won't find anything useful. Color profiles are generally named as drivers by manufacturers. It is best to search for downloads available for your monitor model and then to download the driver available.
We went to LG's support website and typed IPS234 in their search field.
The search yielded several versions of this monitor, so we picked the one we have.
We downloaded the latest driver file, which came in the form of an archive. Depending on the manufacturer, it can be a self-extracting archive with the extension ".exe", a ".zip" or ".rar" file.
Extract the files inside the archive. You will find a file with the extension ".icm".
How To Install A Color Profile In Windows
Once you have downloaded and extracted your color profile, it's time to apply it.
If you're using Windows 7, open the Start Menu or the Control Panel and search for "color management". Then, click on the Color Management shortcut.
In case you're on Windows 8.1, switch to the Start screen and start writing "color management". Then, click or tap the Color Management result.
The Color Management window opens. This window looks the same and offers the same options in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The remaining screenshots were made in Windows 8.1.
Inside the Color Management window, look for the Devices tab and open it. In the Device drop-down box you have a list of devices installed on your computer, starting with your monitor(s). If you have multiple monitors, select the monitor for which you just downloaded the color profile. The Identify monitors button may come in handy here, as it shows your different displays and their number: display 1, display 2, etc..
When you have the proper monitor selected, click or tap Add.
NOTE: If a color profile is already installed for the selected monitor, it can happen that the Add button is disabled. If that's the case, but you still want to replace the existing color profile with the one you've downloaded, make sure you check the box that says "Use my settings for this device". Then, you will be able to use the Add button.
The Associate Color Profile window is opened, where you can see a list with all the installed color profiles. These profiles can be installed and used by other devices, such as your printer or scanner, or by image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop. Click or tap Browse and find the location of the color profile you just downloaded.
Select the file and click or tap Add.
You may notice that the colors on your screen change as the new profile takes effect. Click or tap Close and you are done.
If you have multiple monitors, you should repeat the procedure for each monitor and make sure that you download and install the color profiles that are specific to each monitor.
We're pretty sure that most of our readers were not aware of the importance of color profiles and drivers for their desktop monitors. Hopefully this tutorial has convinced you to install the appropriate color profile for your monitors. As you can see, the procedure is not very complex and it will definitely help when working with image and video editing solutions.