Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Enabling Colour Profiles in Firefox

Up until recently I've been calibrating my monitors (HP LP2475w) with the Spyder2Express.  Now, this is quite an inexpensive unit, and when I first bought it, I didn't really know much about calibration.  It doesn't (officially) support multiple monitors, although there are pain-in-the-ass workarounds that can make it happen (although the whole process can take up to an hour to sort it out each time you need to recalibrate).  So, I only ever calibrated my main monitor regularly, the one on which I edit my photos and watch video previews while editing, the other screen being resigned to simply displaying palettes and other program info.  But it's also the screen on which I browse the web.

Anyway, after going to the Focus on Imaging show last month, and picking up several 100-sheet packs of Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl and Harman Crystaljet Luster paper I decided it was about time I got a bit more serious about my calibration (and I really wanted something that would allow me to calibrate a multiple monitor system without all the farting around).

So, I went ahead and I bought the X-Rite Eye One Display 2, and how sexy it is.  I bought it from a company called Native Digital, on the recommendation of a friend who had used them in the past.  When you buy the Display 2 from them, they also throw in two free printer profiles (normally £15 each), so as I'd just got new papers for the printer, it sounded like a great deal to me.

Unit arrives, bit of screwing around to figure out how the software works, and I have two beautifully calibrated virtually identical screens sitting on my desk.  I save an image out of Photoshop, using the sRGB colour profile via "Save for Web and Devices", upload it to Flickr and... hold on a minute... why does it look different to the image in Photoshop?

So I did a little digging, because I could've sworn I read that FireFox 3 supported embedded colour profiles within images.  Turns out, it does, although it's not enabled by default, which means that everything is being shown with your standard calibration, and not necessarily how the photographer intended it to be viewed.

After a little more digging around, I discovered that there are a couple of plugins that claim to enable this feature for you, as there is nothing in FireFox's "Options" dialogue, nor any of the menu options.  The plugins didn't seem to do a thing for me, so I deleted them, and I can't really tell you what they were, you'll have to hit up Google if you're curious. Eventually I did manage to find a solution (which is a lot less hassle than downloading and installing a plugin to be honest with you), which I'm going to pass along right here.

WARNING : You can seriously screw up your FireFox configuration if you change something in here you're not supposed to change, so I take no responsibility for anything YOU do with YOUR computer. :)

That said, this is what I did, what worked for me, so here it is.

When facing the Firefox browser window, you want to enter "about:config" into the URL bar.  You will be then confronted with a warning as shown in the image below (remember, I told you, not my fault if you screw something up.  If you're not sure what you're doing, don't do this!).

Clicking the button to continue into the configuration presents you with hundreds and hundreds of ways to screw up your settings...

So, let's narrow things down a bit.  You'll want to start by entering "gfx" into the "Filter" box shown at the top of the page, and the option we're going to be editing is highlited in the screenshot below.

Simply double click on this line to bring up the dialog box.  When the box comes up, enter a value of "1", and click OK.

Now, your list should look lke this.  The "Status" till change from "default" to "user set" to show that the default value has been edited by the user.  If you do screw something up, this could help you to find those settings you changed and assist you in resetting them.

Now just restart FireFox (although, I'm not even certain this step is required) and you're all set.  Your images with embedded sRGB colour profiles (as the vast majority of photos on the web are) will be displaying their correct colours on your beautifully calibrated screen.

No comments:

Post a Comment