Colors off between OS X and Win 7?


Hi everyone,

I spent most of today trying to solve this, and I’m still confused:

I’m working on a digital illustration in Photoshop CS6. Did most of the work on a Win7 machine, then decided to edit it on my Mac. When I opened the PSD file on Mac, the colors were off - darker and more saturated than the same file on Win7. Here is what I know:

  • The file in question was in CMYK from the start. It’s still CMYK on both machines.
  • Color profiles (both working space and embedded) are the same on both Mac and PC, for both RGB and CMYK.
  • Same file saved as JPEG looks the same on Mac, but not as PSD.
  • Same JPEG opened up on the web(through Chrome) looks even darker than in Photoshop.
  • When I turned on “Proof Colors” on the Mac and set that to RGB, it looks just like on PC.
  • Tried calibrating PC monitor, when the file finally looks like it does on the Mac, the rest of Windows looks like crap - over saturated and too bright.

I tend to think that my Mac displays the colors correctly. But how can I work on the same file on two machines and keep the colors relatively the same. I just don’t understand why a file with the same CMYK and color profile looks so different. Could my PC display be the culprit (it’s a laptop display if it makes any difference)?

What do you think? Anything else I could do? I appreciate any info on this.


Alexei. B


if you want the colours to match, you’ll need to use a hardware calibrator like a Spyder or i1Display. That’s the only way to ensure that the colour will be reasonably close between the two systems with different video cards and different monitors. Even two screens on the same Mac will be slightly off without hardware calibration, regardless of what your colour profiles are set to in Photoshop.

And don’t use CMYK unless you know you have to – you are throwing away data and it should only be used as a final destination, not as something you adjust. I’m a print/magazine art director and all our stuff stays in RGB until I make PDFs for press. If you alter a CMYK image, you are changing the ink density, which is never ideal since a conversion optimizes that density for a balance of saturation, matching and max ink for your paper. If you know what you’re doing then it’s okay but send an art director RGB images otherwise.


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