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How To Change An Images Color Profile On Mac OSX Lion

While looking into all of the specifics of the screencapture application on Mac OSX Lion I came across some interesting information about Color Profile. The Color Profile is assigned to each image captured with screencapture and I assume other media utilities function in the same way meaning they use the color profile that was configured when the image was created. The Color Profile stands for ICC Profile or International Color Consortium Profile and specifies a configuration file or set of configuration details that include color attributes. As you can image not all monitors display colors in the same way the same as not all graphics cards output colors in the same way so the Color Profile assigns settings that can be adjusted to make colors or any form of graphics look different.

On Mac OSX Lion the Color Profile is actually set based on Monitor so when you are on a Macbook Pro the color profile by default will be Color LCD. If on the same Macbook you plugin an external monitor the Color Profile will likely switch to something else such as HD 709-A. There are a bunch of default Color Profiles available which OSX attempts to assign automatically based on what is believed to be the best fit for the display. Custom Color Profiles are stored as .icc files on your Mac and new ones can be added to the below directory.

Color Profile Directory On Mac OSX Lion:


  1. /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/Displays/

I don’t know enough about Color Profiles on the Mac to even begin to recommend certain settings, etc. however if you have a monitor that the colors seem off in the display you can do a Google search that may turn up a custom Color Profile you could use. Remember the Color Profiles are .icc files so searching for your monitor name and .icc custom color profile will turn up results if they exist. To see the available Color Profiles you can do so by opening System Preferences and clicking on Displays. Once the Displays are open click the tab named Color next to Display in the middle of the Displays configuration window.

Mac Display Color Profiles:

Display Color Profiles On Mac OSX Lion

You can click through the different color profiles and notice a definite change between them. Mac OSX Lion does a good job in my opinion of picking the correct Color Profile for your specific monitor so unless you are confident I would hesitate to make changes here.

Last but not least I wanted to share where this information is located for images. If you right click an image file and select Get Info from the pop up menu you will see details regarding that image. One of the sections in Get Info is called more info and includes details about the image files Dimensions, Color Space, Color Profile, and if the image has an Alpha Channel or not. The two example images below show screencaptures from the same Mac but they were taken using the same external monitor however I modified the Color Profile between issuing the screencapture command. Notice how the Color Profile is different.

Mac Screenshot Taken On HP w2408 Monitor: Color Profile: Apple RGB

Mac Image Details Color Profile Apple RGB

Mac Screenshot Taken On HP w2408 Monitor: Color Profile: HD 709-A

Mac Image Details Color Profile HD 709-A

One last thing that I found on OSXDaily while looking up various details that I thought was cool is a command issued via a Terminal Window on your Mac and displays the monitor/LCD model and monitor/LCD type. Displayed below is an example of this command being issued and the output results.

Display Macbook Pro External Monitor Model & Type:


  1. acomputerhere:Displays alex$ ioreg -lw0 | grep IODisplayEDID | sed "/[^<]*</s///" | xxd -p -r | strings -6
  3. HP w2408
  4. CND80414FW
  5.  @1
  6.     @U
  7. acomputerhere:Displays alex$

The above is accurately showing the monitor I am currently working off of which is a HP w2408h. This model HP is 24 inches and provides an output of 1900×1200.

All of the above information sparked my curiosity when I was looking at an images details and noticed the Color Profile attribute. I wanted to understand what it was so I did some research and played around with Color Profiles until I had a basic understanding. Any further information that anyone wants to provide below regarding Color Profiles would be appreciated.

HP 2711x 27-Inch LED Monitor – Black (Personal Computers)

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