Quick and Dirty Color Check for Web Sites

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Since Penn State supports both Mac and PC, it is important to make sure Web site colors look decent on both Mac and Windows. The usual quirk is that colors tend to be paler on a Mac and darker on a PC, so sometimes a site looks fine on a PC, but washed out on a Mac (or fine on a Mac and very dingy on a PC).

Part of the difference is that that the gamma for Mac is set to 1.8 default, while on a PC it's set to 2.2 by default (gamma controls how pixels display color). The 1.8 gamma setting is lighter than 2.2.

I am lucky enough to have a two monitors set up on my Mac, so right now I calibrate my primary monitor to the Mac 1.8 gamma and the second monitor to PC 2.2 gamma.

It's not perfect, but since I've done it, I've been able to see some of the weirder color changes between platforms (warm tones are especially dangerous for some reason), and have been able to find decent compromise colors.

If you don't have a spare Windows, it's a good workaround.

2 Comments

Elizabeth:

This is helpful. What are the disadvantages of calibrating a Mac to the higher setting? I think I like the colors on the higher setting better, but the calibrator suggests that it is best for the Mac to be set at 1.8 gamma.

Elizabeth Pyatt said:

If you like the higher setting, that would probably be good for most uses, but your machine will look different from other Macs. For most of us, it's probably just a matter of personal preference.

If you did desktop publishing (print or Web), it could be tricky to calibrate colors. If a program like Illustrator probably assumes a Mac is set for 1.8 gamma, then your comps might be odd.

On the other hand, a graphic artist told me that you could only rely on your Pantone print cards for color checking on paper...never your monitor.

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