Why are the colors on images I upload to the web different?

Before you start assuming you have a color problem, you must make sure you are making a valid comparison.

  • Use the same browser to compare images. You cannot compare one image in Safari and another in IE if the image is using any color space other than sRGB.
  • Do not compare Internet Explorer browser image against an image in Photoshop or another color space aware viewer. Most browsers are not color space aware and Photoshop and many image viewers are color space aware.
  • Do not compare image between web sites. The background of a Web site will influence how you perceive color. See more below.
  • Color shift can also appear if the web site you are uploading to is resizing your images. Check the maximum pixel dimension allowable from the site in question and resize your images first before uploading.

This question comes up often. The most common reason for a color shift is using the wrong color space for a web image. With the exception of Safari and Firefox 3, web browsers are not color space aware. This means that if your image is using Adobe 1998 color space, the web browser will not interpret it properly and the colors will appear muted and washed out. To fix this problem, you need to first understand color space and then covert your web images to sRGB prior to upload. The easiest way to do this in Photoshop is to Save for Web. Alternatively, you can go to Edit-Convert to Profile and select sRGB and save the file.