How to verify and repair colorsync profiles in OS X

ColorSync is Apple’s technology for matching colors between image-handling devices, so an image shown on one will appear with the same tones and hues will appear the same on another. This can be seen if you use dual displays from different manufacturers, where one might show more reds or greens than another; however, if you properly calibrate your display, then you will allow your Mac to adjust for these color differences and make graphics on both appear the same.

To do this, ColorSync uses calibrated profiles that define the color response of each device you use and which translate these responses between devices, so when calibrated properly, devices should display almost exactly the same colors for image data sent to them.

Ensure the ColorSync profile for your display is set properly (click image for larger view).

Since the ColorSync profiles are responsible for how colors are represented, if a problem occurs with one you use, then you might see odd color handling. This can include colors on your display appearing harsh, washed out, or have a tint of blue, green, or red. Sometimes you might not notice this until you use another monitor, or have two that are side-by-side. If such differences do not matter for you, then you have nothing to worry about; however, if your work involves graphics and images, then there are several ways you can go about fixing this problem.

Check your colorsync profiles

Open the Displays system preferences and then ensure the profile for your monitor is selected. If you have a profile as a separate file, then you can click the “Open Profile” button, or if your Mac is using a generic profile, then consider clicking the “Calibrate…” button to calibrate it. Spend time doing this, or optionally use a third-party routine for doing this, and you will have a far more accurate color match for your device than the generic profile that comes with your system.

Verify and repair your profiles

With use and especially with programs that manage or modify ColorSync properties, your profiles can become inadvertently damaged and no longer work properly. There are two ways you can check for this and repair it:

The Terminal
Apple includes a command line scriptable image editor called “sips” in OS X, which can be used in conjunction with the “find” command to locate and verify ColorSync profiles on your system. To do this, open the Terminal utility and then run the following two commands:

find /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/ -name "*.icc" -exec sips --verify {} \;
find ~/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/ -name "*.icc" -exec sips --verify {} \;

These should simply list the profiles you have in your system; however, if they show any additional warnings or errors in the Terminal output, then re-run them and replace the word “verify” with “repair” as follows:

find /Library/ColorSync/Profiles/ -name "*.icc" -exec sips --repair {} \; find ~/Library/ColorSync/Profiles/ -name "*.icc" -exec sips --repair {} \;

ColorSync profile error will show up when you click Verify. The Repair button should ensure these are fixed (click image for larger view).

ColorSync Utility
Apple includes a ColorSync management tool that you can use to view profile information as well as verify and repair it. For those who are less savvy with the Terminal, this may be a more intuitive option:

  1. Open ColorSync Utility (in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder).
  2. Click the Verify button.
  3. If any errors are found, then click the Repair button to fix them.

When these routines are done, try selecting your profiles for use again, or replace them if they cannot be fixed.

Note that in some cases you might see a problem where the ColorSync Utility claims a profile cannot be fixed. In these cases, you will need to go to the profile in the Finder, get information on it, and ensure your username is added in the Sharing & Permissions section with both Read and Write privileges. When done, re-run the repair routine, and hopefully that will allow the profile to be fixed.


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