How to Install a Color Profile in Windows

One important element when working with images, video and even when playing games, is color. Every monitor model has a different color profile, rendering them slightly different to other models. It’s important to make sure that the colors your monitor displays are as close to reality as possible. That’s why, you should install your monitor’s correct color profile. In this tutorial I will explain what color profiles are, why they matter and how to install them. If I made you curios enough to learn more, don’t hesitate to read on.

What is a Color Profile?

Color profiles are pretty complex to define, especially by somebody who doesn’t work a lot with image and video editing or photography. Therefore I will try to summarize the best I can:

A color profile is a set of data which characterizes 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 than 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 I 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, I highly recommend you to read this guide: Overview of Color Management.

Finding the 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 my case, the monitor is a Dell 2407 WFP.

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, download the driver available.

I went to Dell’s support website and typed 2407WFP in their search field.

Color Management

The search yielded several versions of their monitor driver, so I picked one.

Color Management

I downloaded the driver file, which came in the form of an archive. Depending on the manufacturer, it can be a self-extract archive with the extension ".exe", a ".zip" or ".rar" file.

Extract the files inside the archive. You shall find some files with the extension ".icm".

Installing the Color Profile

Once you have downloaded and extracted your color profile, open the Start Menu or the Control Panel and search for "color management". Click on the Color Management shortcut.

Color Management

The Color Management window opens. Here, the Devices tab is the one that interests you. 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 profiles.

The Identify monitors button may come in handy here, as it shows your different displays (display 1, display 2, etc.).

Color Management

When you have the proper monitor selected, click on Add.

NOTE: If a color profile is already installed for the selected monitor, it can happen that the Add is disabled. In that case, if you still want to replace the existing color profile with the one you’ve downloaded, make sure you check the box which says "Use my settings for this device". Then, you will be able to use the Add button.

This opens the Associate Color Profile window, 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 and other solutions.

Click on Browse and find the location of the color profile you downloaded.

Color Management

Select the file and click Add.

Color Management

You may notice the color of your monitor change as the new profile takes effect. Now click Close.

Color Management

If you have multiple monitors, you should repeat the procedure for each, and make sure you download and install the color profiles specific to each monitor model.

Conclusion

I’m pretty sure that most readers were not aware of the importance of color profiles and drivers for your 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.

Related articles:

Why & How To Calibrate a Monitor in Windows 7
How to Change Your Display’s Screen Resolution & How to Make Text & Icons Bigger
How to Set Up a Digital Photo Editing Environment in Windows