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Ivan's picture

Windows vs Mac monitor Gamma

Windows monitors are a bit darker than Mac monitors, therefore if you're sending an image to a client of yours who is using Windows you might want to consider correcting the Gamma of your image to make sure your client sees similar range of colors as you do on your Mac. Same goes for optimizing a web site for PC users. Once you're happy with the image on your Mac and ready to send to a PC, jump to ImageReady (Apple-Shift-M) to compensate your Gamma. Select Image/Adjustment/Gamma... To simulate how your image would look like on a PC monitor without Gamma correction, click "Windows to Macintosh" (darker image). To correct the Gamma for viewing on Windows click "Macintosh to Windows" (lighter image) and press OK. This lighter image will look normal on a PC, it will look like the image you see on your Mac without Gamma correction. Now you can either jump back to PS with the same combo or save your image from IR.

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Anonymous's picture


I assume you're referring to professionally calibrated screens of the same display type, ie. LCD to LCD, CRT to CRT etc., not to mention in roughly the same condition.

In less strict circumstances however, I suspect that there may be more issues at work than gamma alone.

I've noticed, for example, when saving desktop pictures from my Mac (with a CRT screen) for use on a Toshiba laptop, that the laptop's version (of a 32-bit BMP) is distinctly lighter.

Subtle flaws that I couldn't see on my monitor were immediately apparent on the laptop.

Is there really enough similarity among the many millions of monitors out there that their displays can be so conveniently targeted?

I have no idea really, but it sort of seems like it would be akin to the CMYK printing dilemma, where almost no two batches of ink are identical, not to mention press setups, operating temperatures, phase of the moon etc.

Enquiring minds want to know.

(I would look this stuff up myself, were it not for my age-old motto; "What, me research?" :-)

Have a great day.


Michael's picture

I once took a photo of myself wearing sunglasses with the intension of cartooning it up with Illustrator. I outlined in Illustrator and exported to Photoshop where I dragged and dropped the lenses of the glasses.
Okay enough story- more cliffnotes:

1. Sent cartoon image of my sunglasses to my friend and they immediately replied "OMG"
2. My eyes were visible on a monitor with gamma brighter than the one I was using. It was so very faint that you had to blink and refocus to make sure.

Anonymous's picture

But I set the gamma of my PowerBook to 2.2 (that is the native gamma of the screen anyway) so it's the same as PCs.

Colin's picture

There's also a neat little Mac application called GammaToggle. It lets you toggle back and forth between PC and Mac gamma settings, whatever application you're in.

Ivan's picture

Thanks guys for the comments and link!

I agree that this tip is only true in general with the default settings. There are so many brands of PCs, all of them will display colors slightly differently. Also, the settings of your OS and apps can greatly modify the colors you see.

Anonymous's picture

Before doing any color correction or anything for publication... always, always, always calibrate all of your equipment and software. From monitors, scanners, printers and even Photoshop.

This way you can move stuff between machines without the massive differences you may see otherwise. This is the same thing we do with television. You always have a calibrated broadcast monitor to view everything on... the one monitor you know you can always trust. Then you view your goods on other consumer screens to see how it holds up on various televisions.

sPECtre's picture

Hello, Ivan. Your comment about the different toning due to the different hardware on PC is a bit off; Yes PC users have different hardware, but all the mac users are not using the same screens, nor the same brands of videocards! Right now it is possible to fit almost any brand of videocard in a mac, isn't it possible to get a Mac with an ATI or an nVidia card at the Apple shop?

Also, the default PC gamma is at 2.2 , while the OLD recommended gamma on Mac is 1.8. If you go to and follow Ian's recommendations, you'll see that you should now use a 2.2 gamma on a MAC, as it is the one that fits modern monitors. Gamma 1.8 on Mac should disappear! Most other influentColor Management experts (Bruce Fraser, David Blatner etc...)also give the very same advice!

Ivan's picture

Further discussion and links can be found in the cbforum.

Jeremy's picture

Ok- Just curious- i am probably buying a mac- a tower...imac g5...or powerbook g4...but prob not powerbook g4... i wanted to know what i should do if i buy a tower and i cant afford an apple lcd but do not want crt...are there compatibility issues with any lcd?

Jeremy's picture

oh by the way if anyone knows about doing music on a mac...which one would you recommend...cause i plan on movign it between buildings sometimes...but not a problem to move a tower if i put it in a box and roll it on a dolly i think.

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