View Full Version : XP Users - Color Control Panel Applet ... You want to get this!

03-01-2007, 07:54 PM
I missed this one when it came out... its a feature from Vista that has been rolled down to XP... go figure... Microsoft being generous. Back a few months ago I was trying to figure out how to run two different monitors on my XP machine and found that XP wouldn't let you have two profiles active at the same time. In the process of rebuilding my machine I got a PCI Express dual-DVI video card, which I don't know if that has anythign to do with why this works now or not, but it wouldn't without this applet. Microsoft has what they call a Color Control Panel Applet you can download for free from here... http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=1E33DCA0-7721-43CA-9174-7F8D429FBB9E&displaylang=en#QuickInfoContainer . What it does is add a Color applet to the Control Panel, as the name implies. It also has to load the .NET Framework as part of the install so it is a little larger that you'd expect.

Whether you have one monitor or two, this applet is still an important addition for photo editing. It has three tabs...

* Color Tab - You can set the Default Windows color space to be used... sRGB, Adobe RGB, etc. You can also set how often you want the applet to remind you to calibrate your monitor.

* Profiles Tab - This is kind of cool because it lists all the color profiles that are installed on the system, along with a visual representation of the color gamet they represent. Prior to this, the only way I've found to find them is to rifle around in the Windows systems folders to find them.

* Devices Tab - This is the gem of the gems in this thing. It lists all your ICM compatible devices... Displays, Printers, Scanners, etc. It then lists the ICM profiles that are associated with each device and lets you set the default one. You can add or remove profiles from the list, from the overall pool that are installed on the computer. It defaults to the ones that logically go with a particular device. So, if you have different printer profiles for different types of paper... you can change it here. Likewise, if you profile your monitors, scanner, and printers (which you should if you want the color to be the same), then you can make sure they are all set right here.

The great part is that you can set a profile for each monitor.

Then the tricky part is actually getting a profile for each monitor. My new video card lets you go into the display panel (this may be in display settings for some cards, but most newer cards have their own control panel) and set the primary display. You can swap back and forth. You will know which is primary because it will be the one that has the task bar at the bottom of the desktop. One thing that threw me for a loop is that if you swap primary displays, it assumes the primary is on the left. So if you try to move the mouse from one display to the other, you have to move it off the left side to get to the right display. I spent quite a while trying to figure that one out.

You profile your primary display... then swap primary displays... then profile your other display... then swap primaries back. Then go to the Color applet and set which profile goes with which display. Be aware that you need two profiles in each display's list to change it... it won't let you make one active if you don't have one to change from... so if some other application has changed it, then the Applet won't know that.

That brings me to my current problem, which I know I can fix but haven't figured out how yet. My Pantone Spyder2 and software suite has a profile chooser that runs at startup and sets the profile. I need to turn this off, and anything else that mucks with the profiles, and let XP deal with it.

This is going to save me some money in the long run. I have a Samsung 204T 20" LCD and a NEC FE950 19" CRT. The 204T is bright and clear, but not great for photo editing. Any LCD that doesn't have an S-IPS panel in it (except for high end specialized LCDs) has big color shift problems. You can test this by looking at an image with a lot of shadow detail. Get directly in front of the display and look at the shadows. Then shift your head towards one side of the display.. should only take a few inches... and you'll see a huge change in the look of the image. This means that even if you are looking head on, the edges of the display are going to not be accurate by a huge amount. So I've been looking to get a new display (or two). There are a few 20" S-IPS LCDS out there for under $500, but with some issues in getting them. The main two are from HP and Dell, and both of them are shipping some LCDs using the same model number that have a cheaper non S-IPS panel in it. So, its like panel-lotto... you may get a good one, you may not. I've been also looking at the bigger 24"+ widescreen LCDs, but they are very pricey, and I've really grown fond of two displays. The bigger wider ones are great because you can get a full size 13x19" image on the screen, but the duals are great because you end up with more space for other work.

With the ability to run different profiles, I can now buy one new display and keep one. I'm actually finding that the NEC CRT is nice because it doesn't have the color shift, and now that I have the colors dialed in, it matches better. But, it is pretty old and the sharpness has faded and the contrast ratio is no where near the Samsung 204T. I think I'll just order a nice S-IPS LCD for Photoshop and use the 204T for other stuff... Outlook, IE, Office, etc.

Sorry for the long winded post.

03-01-2007, 08:20 PM
thanks Michael....