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Color Management Windows 11

Explorer ,
Oct 06, 2023 Oct 06, 2023

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I am looking to upgrade my OS from Windows 10 to 11 and noticed there are some new features regarding color management. Specifically the new "Auto Color Management" ACM system. Does this system conflict at all with the Adobe color management system? Are there any settings or parameters that I need to be aware of/disable for a proper color-managed workflow? 

 

I use a wide gamut hardware calibrated display (in native gamut).

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Community Expert ,
Oct 06, 2023 Oct 06, 2023

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I will tag @D Fosse who may be able to help you.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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I haven't taken the jump to 11 yet, despite nag screens on an almost daily basis 😉 My opinion is that Windows 10 is the perfect operating system and I have no desire to change anything about it. But one day I have to.

 

But I've been doing some quick reading, and ACM shouldn't affect Photoshop, or any other icc-based color managed application, in any practical way.

 

What it looks like to me, is that they're moving color managment execution away from the application and into the operating system. This is the Apple model, and I'm not sure I like it. Previously, Windows just managed profiles and made them available to the application as needed, and then the actual conversion was handled by the application.

 

The problem with having the OS do it is that it's more exposed to bugs, and much less transparent for troubleshooting if it fails. And if bugs do hit, there's nothing you can do. That's what we've been telling Mac users the whole time: "you just have to wait for an OS update". I don't want to sit around waiting. I want to know exactly where the problem is and find workarounds.

 

But I suppose they need to do this for HDR support. It should also be said that historically, Microsoft have been very good at fixing problems quickly. I just don't like to put everything into the hands of the guys in white lab coats.

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Explorer ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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I've also been quite happy with Windows 10. The OS isn't without issue however, and it's been brought to my attention that Windows can be a bit buggy with multi monitor color management. I've been told that Windows can "arbitrarily unload system profiles". I believe programs like ColorNavigator look out for issues like this, and reload the profiles as needed.

 

"ACM shouldn't affect Photoshop, or any other icc-based color managed application, in any practical way" This would be the case if it was implemented properly. I came across a post by another user that suggested this was not the case.
He claimed that Photoshop would no longer show colors outside of sRGB. He also has issues with 10 bit support. https://www.reddit.com/r/Monitors/comments/15e75xa/windows_11_acm_is_just_another_piece_of_trash_on/...


It's worth noting that he was using a preview version of windows. He does say however that the system has been atleast partially rolled out in official released versions. This was 2 months ago, and i'm unsure how things have changed since.


I saw in the dev blogs that there is an option to "use legacy display icc color management". I wonder if that is the solution for programs that are already color-managed such as Photoshop. Is it perhaps best to avoid Windows 11 altogether for the time being while they make this transition?

 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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quote

it's been brought to my attention that Windows can be a bit buggy with multi monitor color management. I've been told that Windows can "arbitrarily unload system profiles". I believe programs like ColorNavigator look out for issues like this, and reload the profiles as needed.


By @romany36267645

 

Well, I've been hearing that on and off since Windows xp, and never seen it myself. It's always been dead reliable for me. I always suspected user error in these cases. Lots of people don't understand the basic difference between calibration tables and monitor profile, and basically misunderstand how the whole thing works. So they do things that they shouldn't.

 

I do use ColorNavigator with two monitors - and so does @davescm who has made the jump to 11. Any problems or things we should know about, Dave?

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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No colour management issues here with Windows 11 Pro v22H2 and any Photoshop version including the latest 25.0 and the beta 25.1.

I use two Eizo wide gamut, but not HDR, monitors - both CS2731s and both calibrated and profiled using Eizo's Color Navigator v7.1.12.24. I use them in 10bits/channel via Dataport connections on an RTX3090

I also create my own printer profiles - again no issues with them.

 

There were a few colour management issues with Windows 11 when it first launched, and Eizo advised delaying the switch to 11 at the time. Those issues were resolved a long time ago, I made sure of that before switching from Windows 10 to Windows 11. I've not had any issues since switching.

 

Dave

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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Thanks, Dave. Did you do an in-place upgrade to 11, with all applications migrating?

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Explorer ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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Thanks for the insight Dave, It's reassuring to hear that you are not having any issues with Windows 11. I do hope that it continues that way as the new ACM system rolls out. I guess we just need to trust that Windows/Adobe/Eizo will have this figured out when the time comes? 

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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@D Fosse Yes it was just an in place upgrade. The only issue I had was a problem with my printer (Epson SC-P5000) and a driver re-install fixed that.

 

@romany36267645 I can't predict the future but if there are issues you can always roll back an updgrade. I also use Macrium to do monthly full backups, weekly differential back ups, and daily incremental backups. So, I can step files, apps or the whole PC back in time should I need to.

 

Dave

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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Excellent, thanks again.

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Explorer ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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Having to be on the lookout for issues as they present themselves is a bit of a nuisance. A significant break in the system may be immediately apparent, but what about smaller less perceivable errors? Would you immediately notice that your monitor isn't displaying colors outside sRGB on a new file?


This makes a mac kind of tempting over a pc for a color-managed workflow. I'm sure they have their own issues, but surely their more mature color system will have fewer problems in general in the near future.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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'Would you immediately notice that your monitor isn't displaying colors outside sRGB on a new file?'

Yes

'surely their more mature color system will have fewer problems in general in the near future'

You can't predict where either system will go or what bugs may appear applications or operating systems. Windows does have an insider program and even if you do not join it you can keep a watchful eye on what is being said prior to any release. Adobe also has a public beta that can be installed alongside the release version.

 

 

Dave

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Explorer ,
Oct 07, 2023 Oct 07, 2023

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It's interesting that you say you'd be able to immediately notice if your monitor isn't displaying colors outside sRGB on a new file. From my experience, if the conversion is done correctly the difference would be subtle. Unlikely something that one would immediately notice on a file they've never seen before.

 

Yes, we can't predict the future. I'd still wager the established system would be less prone to bugs than a system still in its infancy. Following along with the Windows insider program seems quite laborious, but it's a good suggestion nonetheless.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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I'm with Dave: yes, you notice immediately, no question.

 

I have an sRGB target in ColorNavigator that I use for some applications without color management. If I forget to switch back when finished, I immediately see it just on the Windows taskbar. It pops and jumps up.

 

You can obviously have a file that doesn't contain any colors outside sRGB and then you by definition can't see anything. But in those cases you'll see it on interface elements. If still in doubt, find an image with some deep cyans. That's where it's most obvious.

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Explorer ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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As I have said, "if the conversion is done correctly the difference would be subtle". Your Windows taskbar "pops and jumps" because there is no color-gamut conversion being done. 


"You can obviously have a file that doesn't contain any colors outside sRGB and then you by definition can't see anything. But in those cases you'll see it on interface elements. If still in doubt, find an image with some deep cyans. That's where it's most obvious."

 

This is exactly the point I was trying to make. In most images, the difference is very subtle. You can exaggerate the difference with deep greens/cyans but those aren't present in all images. Therefore you may not immediately notice that your monitor isn't displaying colors outside sRGB on a new file.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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This is something you need to check occasionally, right? So it's easy to find a file that shows the difference clearly and make it pop.

 

This isn't a problem.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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The difference in some images is subtle , others not so. But you don't actually need any document content to confirm that the monitors are using the wide gamut profile or are restricted to sRGB.

I use my monitors calibrated and profiled to three common targets (I have another couple for specialist use). The first is the native colour of the monitors i.e. as wide as the monitors can display, the second is Rec709 which I need for use with some video applications where the application allows you to set the monitor space but does not use the ICC profile at all. The third is sRGB for some application around 3D which again allow the user to set which monitor space is being used but do not use the profile set in the system.

If I have been using the monitors as Rec709 or sRGB and forget to switch the monitors back to the native , on opening Photoshop a quick glance at the swatch panel (which I have permanently open on my second screen) gives an immediate confirmation that the monitor is in a restricted gamut mode. Closing Photoshop, switching the monitors (which automatically loads the correct profile in the system), and re-opening Photoshop shows all is well again.

 

If you have your wide gamut monitor(s) set to native (i.e. wide gamut) and the associated monitor profile loaded in the system and used by Photoshop (which it picks up on opening) then you will see the RGB colours in the swatch panel change when you switch between an Adobe RGB document and sRGB document. If your monitors are set to a restricted sRGB space and you open Photoshop and repeat that test, i.e. switch between an sRGB document and an Adobe RGB document, you will see no difference in the swatch panel as both are being restricted to the narrow sRGB space.

 

So that is a long way of answering your question - yes I would know immediately if my displays were being restricted to sRGB

 

Dave

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Yep 🙂

 

If this worries you, make a test file with some split patches: one side sRGB, the other corresponding side Adobe RGB outside sRGB.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Here's your test file. It has Adobe RGB embedded. If the left and right sides appear the same, your monitor is restricted to sRGB:

test_gamut_1.png

 

(Click the image. Inline images in the forum are untagged. You will only see a difference if you have a wide gamut monitor.)

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Explorer ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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Thank you both for the responses as usual. I appreciate you taking the time to make a test file D Fosse, that is very kind.


Having a swatch panel permanently open is also a nice method Dave, and one I would consider using.


We went off on a bit of a tangent here with this specific "perceivable error" haha. The broader point is that it sucks having to look out for issues like this when you don't trust your OS. It will be very interesting to see how the new ACM system plays out in the near future. I am still looking into it myself, and I will be sure to update if there is anything noteworthy for other users.

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Community Expert ,
Oct 08, 2023 Oct 08, 2023

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I do trust my operating system, the situations I described above were to spot when I had made an error by leaving the monitors in a restricted colour space. But, just in case anyone stumbles on this thread and is worried about moving to Windows 11 today, I have been using it for a long while now and have no colour management issues with it.

 

If something happens in the future, I've no doubt it would be sorted

 

Dave

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Explorer ,
Dec 18, 2023 Dec 18, 2023

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Hi guys,

I just got a wide-gamut monitor and would like to take advantage of it in Windows 11. The issue is that I don't see the ACM toggle over the advanced display settings, and as far as I know, my PC meets the requirements for this.

Do you have an idea why? Any help would be a good starting point in order to solve this.

 

Ricardo

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Community Expert ,
Jan 04, 2024 Jan 04, 2024

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@Ricardo CGI As long as your display has an accurate ICC profile the operating system and Photoshop will use it correctly. 

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net - adobe forum volunteer - co-author: 'getting colour right'
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management
Help others by clicking "Correct Answer" if the question is answered.
Found the answer elsewhere? Share it here. "Upvote" is for useful posts.

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Explorer ,
Jan 04, 2024 Jan 04, 2024

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Hi,

Absolutely. PS always did a great job. The point is that all other apps which are not color-managed will look oversaturated in Windows 11. That's why I'm trying to find some user experience with the new ACM in Win 11 where for some reason, I don't have it available in mine.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 04, 2024 Jan 04, 2024

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If the application is not color managed, then it will ignore all icc profiles. sRGB will be oversaturated and there's absolutely nothing you can do about that.

 

With a wide gamut monitor you can only use color managed software. Period, end of.

 

If you have to use non-color managed applications, set the monitor to sRGB emulation (and change the monitor profile to one made with the monitor at that setting). Or live with the oversaturation.

 

I'm not quite clear on what ACM is actually supposed to do, but I suspect something similar to the Apple model: profile conversions are called by the application, but executed by the OS. Actually they're mostly executed in the GPU for screen, but I assume controlled by the OS.

 

Until now, Windows didn't do any color management whatsoever, it just made profiles available as requested by applications. The application did the rest. Personally I'd prefer it to stay that way; it's both much more reliable and much easier to troubleshoot. And there's one less layer where bugs can hit. I don't want to wait for OS updates like they do on Mac.

 

In any case, the application has to be color managed. It has to call the profile conversions.

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