Google Chrome color management: there's hope
Why have color management for the web?
In a world where media is increasingly being consumed on a screen, having some sort of control on how images and layouts appear to the users is a must. Nobody would accept a magazine where each copy had different colors, so why settle for a web where each monitor and browser renders pages differently?
This is why standards are needed. It's not possible to have control over each user's display, but promoting color management on the browser and implementing a set of best practices can minimize those differences, especially for users with non-standard configurations, such as wide gamut displays.
As calibration equipment gets cheaper — a competent display calibration device can be bought for around US$ 100 — color managed displays will get more and more popular. On the high end, wide gamut displays are dominating the market and it's hard to find a good LCD with an IPS panel suited for color critical work with a sRGB gamut. Most models have AdobeRGB or slightly larger color gamuts.
The current status of Chrome: it's all over the place
Google Chrome is not a color managed browser, but there is hope: Chrome 16, currently in Beta, is the first version that supports ICC profiles on the Mac platform. Version 17, the current Canary build, keeps this support, so I'm assuming this new functionality is here to stay.
Unfortunately, on the Windows platform this support doesn't exist. Both Chrome 16 and 17 don't pass our browser color management test.
On the other hand, Google Chrome for Windows has a command line switch (--enable-monitor-profile) that forces the browser to interpret all untagged images and page elements as being in the sRGB color space. This functionality, absent on the Mac OS X version, is extremely important for wide gamut display users. Without it enabled, untagged graphics are rendered on the full display gamut, leading to grossly oversaturated colors. This is how the W3C recommends browser developers to render colors.
How to enable the --enable-monitor-profile switch in Windows
Edit the Google Chrome shortcut and add the --enable-monitor-profile switch to the executable path.
Our wish list
Bring full ICC v2 and v4 color profile support to both Mac and Windows versions of Chrome.
Allow users to configure, in the browser preferences, how untagged images and page elements should be rendered: in sRGB or on the full display gamut. Assume sRGB by default.
Who gets it right?
Meanwhile, our suggestion is to use Firefox. Since version 8, it supports both v2 and v4 ICC profiles and has the necessary controls over untagged images and page elements. This is the only browser that is usable in wide gamut displays.
How to help
There are two open tickets on the Chromium open source development project related to color management. The first, 143, suggests that the browser should honor color profiles in tagged images. The other one, 37028, deals with how untagged elements should be treated as sRGB.
You can help by starring each of those issues, near the page footer, and by commenting with helpful information to solve the issues. If you work with Google, explain to your peers that this is an important issue. Chrome is the fastest browser today and I'm sure many users, like myself, are only waiting for color management to be able to use it.