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Color Settings in Photoshop


Information and color menus in Photoshop

Updated on January 09, 2021


For those who know where to look, Photoshop offers a huge number of essential information on colors when you work your images ...

How does Photoshop manage the colors of the images you open ? How do you know where you are, where you come from and where you can go ? Different menus allow you to know at any time the colorimetric properties of your images as we will see now in this Photoshop tutorial.

  • In the first part of this page, I will show you all the information windows that allow you to learn more about the colors of an image.
  • In the second, I will review all the interesting menus related to color management in Photoshop..



Photoshop color information windows

To display and work correctly with colors, Photoshop needs, at all times, to know the ICC profile of the image to be opened or opened to correctly display its colors. This becomes his work color space; it replaces the Photoshop working space as we saw on the Color Settings Photoshop page. At all times, we are informed about the nature of the image's color space in the image's title bar.

Presence of an ICC profile or not ?

At any time, Photoshop lets you know if a profile is associated or not to an image, and if so which one. Here's where and how.

First of all, next to the name of the image in the title bar of the file :

  Color information in the image title bar in Photoshop

1 - (RGB #) : this hash sign just next to RGB indicates that the document does not have a built-in profile at this time. The image is displayed arbitrarily so it depends on your Photoshop working space.  
2 - (RGB *) : this asterisk means that the document has a different colorimetric profile than the Photoshop working space. It's all right !
3 - (RGB) : There is nothing next to RGB. This means that the document has an ICC profile identical to that of the Photoshop working space. Everything is fine too.

Which ICC profiles in the image ?

Information about the ICC port of the photo in the Photoshop status barTo know the nature of the ICC profile of the image, i.e. its color space or working space, you must now go to the bottom left of the photo, in the status bar. Next to the display size (in percentage) of the photo opened in Photoshop appears its ICC profile. This is not the Photoshop working space but the ICC profile of the photo and therefore the working space of the photo.

This menu does not appear by default in Photoshop. To choose it, click on the small black triangle just to the right of the document size (default) and scroll down the small menu. In this menu select "Document profile" instead of "Document size". Note in passing all the types of information that can be displayed.

  Document Profile menu in the Photoshop status bar
  I always display the document profile as a good color manager !



Color management menus in Photoshop

There are three important menus in Photoshop to manage colors : Edit menu / Assign profile, Edit menu / Convert to profile and View menu / Proof format. Let's first look at the first two : assign and convert to profile.
These two menus allow Photoshop, at any time, to assign an ICC profile to a document or to convert it from one ICC profile to another. All color management revolves around these two terms so it is essential to know what they refer to. You will find their explanations on the ICC Profiles page.

"Edit / Assign profile"

It provides access to all the important information needed during the assignment of an ICC profile to a document - yes or no, choice of profile - with an "preview" box that must be ticked in any case. By checking this last one you will be able to see on the image, without clicking on OK so no definitively, the impact on the display of colors with this or that profile. It's very effective and informative.

  Photoshop -Assign Profile- menu
  The three possibilities will be detailed on the next page.

"Edit / Convert to profile"

It allows you to access all the important information you need during the conversion from one ICC profile to another, so from one space to another. We find - Source space (1) and destination (2) -, always with a "preview" box to observe concretely what is happening on the image but we also have the possibility to choose the conversion mode in the conversion options.

  Menu convert in profile with Photoshop
  To perform a conversion, you need a source space, a destination space and of course a conversion mode.


Unlike the Assign Profile menu, the RGB values of the photo will really be transformed if you do OK and not just tagged as with the Assign Profile menu. The RGB values of the colors in an image change during conversion even if the colors do not seem to change visually. To work with photos, we will most often choose relative or perceptual as I explain on the page "Conversion to relative or perceptual mode (intent)". We leave the rest checked.

"View > Proof Setup > Custom" menu

There is another very interesting menu left because it is a very powerful feature of Photoshop. Your image must be printed with your inkjet printer, which has another color space, as we have seen, quite small - although growing larger and larger especially on glossy photo paper - and significantly different on some colors of the ICC profile of your screen or even your camera if the image is in sRGB. There may be occasional losses that will materialize as flat colors where there was a gradient in your original file (whether it is visible on your screen or not because it has its limits too).

  Customize Photoshop proofing conditions menu
  Well, thanks to the menu View > Custom Proof Format it is possible to display on the screen as it will be printed DONC converted to the ICC profile of your printer provided that your screen can itself display the colors in question. It is a simulation menu with a Photoshop-specific display. Only the image display is changed. With the keyboard shortcut CMD + Y ( CRTL + Y), it is possible to switch from one to the other to clearly see the differences on the image between the two profiles. As the image is corrected - always in the optimal original space - thanks to the different adjustment layers, there should be practically no more differences between the two images. When working with the right profiles, for example printers, on a calibrated screen, it is really possible to simulate the final printed appearance of the image in Photoshop. That's why it's also a very good color manager. This function is really very useful, as you can see on the page dedicated to printing with Photoshop.

Attention : the importance of the screen gamut !

To simulate the display, you need a screen that is obviously calibrated and that is able to show you as many things as possible to anticipate the final result as well as possible. Today, there are two types of screens: classic gamut (close to the sRGB) and wide gamut (about 95 to 110% of the Adobe RGB).
If you often photograph saturated colors, rather towards greens by the way, and/or if you print on glossy papers so wide gamut also it is preferable to have a wide gamut screen. On old screens, they say Art-graphiques, where the colorimetric space was roughly the sRGB, this can be tricky because a number of very saturated greens, printable on Glossy papers, and I stress the nature of the paper, today are not potentially displayed ideally. But you still have to have photographed them because we're only talking about potential! I invite you to read my pages on choosing monitors 


The different photo saving menus

To the classic Save ( CMD + S or CRTL + S), it is necessary to add the Save as... ( CMD + SHIFT + S or CRTL + SHIFT + S) the very interesting Save for Web ( CMD + ALT + SHIFT + S or CMD + ALT + SHIFT + S).

1 - "Save as..." menu 

When you decide to save a document in Photoshop, you can choose to save the ICC profile that was assigned to the image or not. If you want to save another profile, you will not be able to do so here. You must return to the working space, convert the image to another profile and save. If you don't want to tag the image, just uncheck, even if the interest is very limited today because more and more Internet browsers manage ICC profiles and the weight added to the image is ridiculous at the time of the beginning of 4G !

  -Embed the profile- option of the Photoshop Save As menu
  Si la case est décochée, votre image n'incorpore plus son profil ICC. Pour l'afficher correctement lors de sa prochaine ouverture, il faudra se souvenir quel était son dernier profil ICC. L'intérêt est limité aujourd'hui pour dire vrai...


2 - "Save for Web" menu 

Photoshop has a specific menu dedicated to the web. It allows two very interesting things when saving photos for the web. On the one hand it allows you to precisely manage the JPEG compression rate (on a scale of 1 to 100 and not the classic 1 to 12 in the Save as ... menu) and on the other hand it allows you to automatically convert your image sRGB if not already done. Really pratical, when there is not so long ago, it was absolutely needed to do it BEFORE saving, in Photoshop. If I have not converted my image I can do it here but only in sRGB. And today we have to ask ourselves if this is the best thing to do because more and more browsers are managing ICC profiles. Gone are the days when you had to convert everything into sRGB !

My advice ! As I explain on my page dedicated to the color management of Internet browsers, I advise you to leave "Convert to sRGB" checked but also to tick the button above "Incorporate ICC profile" so that your images broadcast on the Internet are displayed correctly on computers (which manage colors) but also on the tablets (which do not manage them yet in 2018).

  -Convert to sRGB- button on the Photoshop Save for Web menu
  If the conversion to sRGB is now done automatically, it was not always so in this Photoshop menu so be careful with your version. Also remember to check the "Incorporate color profile" button above.

Internet browsers and ICC profile management

My Web site www.arnaudfrichphoto.comFor a very long time, Internet browsers were unable to manage ICC profiles. A picture with an Adobe RGB ICC Profile was therefore displayed.... desaturated (in the vast majority of cases) But why? Because the ICC profile was not read AND because they interpreted the RGB values of our photos in the color space of our screens, still mostly in sRGB today. The sRGB has therefore ruled the Internet for many years. It was therefore necessary to convert all the photos uploaded to sRGB but it was not necessary to incorporate the ICC profile since it was not read! It should therefore be noted that since the screens were all more or less in sRGB, this did not pose a problem and especially could not be seen because then the image was displayed in the native gamut of the screen. So everyone was acting "as if" !

But things are changing...

This is what we will see on my page dedicated to color management on the Internet


Now that we have learned about the profiles of our photographs, we will be able to get down to business and learn how to manage color in Photoshop


To be remembered !

The famous Photoshop working space is only used in one case and two conditions must be met :
Your image must not have an embedded profile or color space AND you must not have fully enabled color management. Only then does the image automatically open by assigning this Photoshop RGB working space.

 So how do you choose it ? If, for example, you only open your photos from your cameras, (they still have a color space) then choose the same one and then the image will open without any color management menu asking you anything. Very practical !

 If you now occasionally open images without a profile, it is in your interest to choose a space or profile as your Photoshop working space that you will often use in these circumstances. An example: you regularly open images that come from the Internet so that often do not have a built-in profile, so you should choose the sRGB because it is the profile that is traditionally assigned to these images.

Through these 5 pages I will share with you all my advice to manage the colors of your photos in Photoshop...

- Color settings in Photoshop
- Choosing your working space in Photoshop

- Information and color menus in Photoshop

  - The different windows
- The different color menus

- Color management in Photoshop
- Printing with Photoshop


- My 35 monitor reviews!
- How to choose your monitor ?
- How to calibrate your monitor ?


Calibrate your monitor with the best
colorimeter: X-Rite i1Display Pro !

Read my full review...


Calibrate your photo printer with the
best value for money: X-Rite i1 Studio !

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