How to make Photoshop manage colors less stupidly on a Mac
January 24, 2013 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I’m trying to get Adobe Photoshop CS3 on Snow Leopard to show me the colors I expect. I’m using it to do some basic color selection, which will ultimately be pasted into a Python script that generates data graphics for use on the web. Part of my workflow involves screen captures from a browser that get round-tripped through Photoshop and into code, so I need basic RGB hex values to stay consistent through the process.

Photoshop is messing with me in two ways:

If I open up a new document or a screen capture, I get it in “sRGB IEC61966-2.1” color mode. Looks right in Photoshop, but when I save this out to a new PNG via Save For Web, the colors come out super saturated, juiced, and wrong-looking in a web browser.

If I open up a new document and turn off color management in Photoshop, then pasted screen captures look washed-out and desaturated. When I save these to a new PNG via Save For Web, the colors look correct and match the originals.

How can I keep the colors looking identical throughout the entire process?
posted by migurski to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have to use png? Do you get the same issues with jpg?

You have access to a newer version of Photoshop? Does it have to be Photoshop? There are cheaper (and more recent that CS3 apps out there that are also scriptable like Acorn or Pixlemator).

I'm not exactly tracking why you need to pull it into Photoshop at all. My screen caps are already in png. I'll trust this is part of the process though.

I haven't had the problem you are describing, so it's a bit hard to come up with solutions. There are a lot of export options for png. 8 or 24? Interlaced or not? What level of colors, etc.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:48 PM on January 24, 2013

Best answer: There are cheaper (and more recent that CS3 apps out there that are also scriptable like Acorn or Pixlemator).

This is not a Photoshop problem, this is a Photoshop settings problem.

First of all you need to go to View > Color Settings and change some settings. The most important is that you check "ask when opening" when you have profile mismatches and missing profiles.

When opening files, try using the file workspace. On export, try saving with Embed Color Profile checked.

The other question is what are you using to verify that the colors are coming out wrong. Some internet browsers color correct on their own.
posted by phaedon at 6:25 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: It doesn’t have to be PNG, but that happens to be the format I know does 24 bit lossless. It also doesn’t have to be Photoshop, but nothing else I’ve tried has as good a color picker as PS so I’m reluctant to change that part.

phaedon, changing the color settings gets me most of the way there. I can see that when opening screen shot documents, the color profile is “Display” so I use that. Now Photoshop is showing me the colors I want to see, so that’s great.

I still see some super saturated colors when saving to PNG, but opening the result in my browser results in the colors I expect to see there as well. I think I can work with this, thank you!
posted by migurski at 6:43 PM on January 24, 2013

Best answer: Marc Edwards article about Colour management and UI design walks through how to handle this process for both Photoshop and Illustrator if you want to take it a bit further.
posted by the biscuit man at 11:56 PM on January 24, 2013

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