I'm not sure if it's possible but I'd like to disable color management on OS X, or at least when working with Photoshop and Illustrator. The problem is that no matter what I do in both application when trying to set a color mode, a color profile or the Proof Color options, both apps are showing different colors for the same image.

Here is a screenshot with how it looks when I have both application windows with one part over the built-in monitor and the other over an external monitor.

enter image description here

Also, when I was tracking down the issue, I discovered that when dragging the windows from one monitor to the other, the colors look like if the window is still on the first monitor, but then change to how they look in the second monitor after I stop dragging the window. This makes me thing that is not a color calibration issue, but rather something with the way the app manage the color profile for that monitor.

So, is there a way to solve this problem? maybe disabling color management at all for the whole system, or only for some applications?

  • If you disabled colour management it would simply be wrong on both screens.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 6, 2017 at 16:31
  • Best practices suggest avoiding different colour management applications at the same time to avoid conflicts in the way the image is rendered.
    – Stan
    Aug 6, 2017 at 17:03
  • @Stan Hmm.. I hadn't thought about that, not sure if that the case when using Photoshop and Illustrator both at the same time though.
    – rraallvv
    Aug 6, 2017 at 20:19
  • @Tetsujin A valid reason I can see for wanting to do this is if you use a display with both Mac and non-Mac devices. You might want every device to send "unaltered" colors, which could then be calibrated in the display's internal settings menu. But, I may also be misunderstanding how this all works. Jan 2, 2020 at 19:14
  • 1
    "unaltered colours' really has no meaning. People have written entire books & run university courses on this. It is a hugely complex structure - well beyond my ability to describe in absolute detail - but really, there is no "off switch".. or even if there was, it would provide absolutely no useful information/image. There must be some degree of interpretation - it can either be accurately calibrated, or may as well be random, but it's still going to be in the workflow.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2020 at 19:31

3 Answers 3


There are two problems.

Firstly: color management is an integral part of MacOS's graphics engine.

"Active color management is a dynamic process, applied to every pixel in real time on every frame. For each pixel, a color match is performed from the source content's profile space to the destination space, possibly with an intermediate space or working space (requiring an additional color match) in between."

It cannot be turned off: every color value exists within a color profile space.

To complicate matters further, Adobe applications such as Photoshop and Illustrator have their own color management 'on top' of MacOS. They can define their own source profile spaces, and specify how color is handled from documents using the same or different working spaces.

It used to be possible to turn off Adobe's Color management in old versions, but this has not been the case for some time.

Using Creative Suite 6, I can save an RGB .psd file from Photoshop (with profile embedded) and open it in Illustrator, and the colors will be identical (both to my eye and using Digital Color Meter.app).

It's possible you may want to try trashing the pref files for these apps, and see if that helps.

However, if you are just getting different colors when viewing the same document on different displays, then you just need to calibrate the displays to be more similar.

  • The problem with Adobe's 'layered' colour profile management is not actually a 'bug' but that people for some unimaginable reason set their screen profile to the 'Working RGB Profile' slot… breaking the entire process.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2020 at 19:01

If you go into Settings > Displays > Color > Calibrate you should be able to make your display mirror the colors on your external display. Color Settings Color Calibration

  • Do you mean Color LCD is the option to disable color management?
    – rraallvv
    Aug 6, 2017 at 20:13
  • I don't think it's possible to disable it altogether but the Color Settings are where you'd go to calibrate or edit it in order to fix any color problems you're having with your display.
    – user248946
    Aug 7, 2017 at 13:21

Opening the Display Calibrator Assistant window shown in the above screenshot disables color management until the window is closed.

  • Thus making it completely wrong at all times ;) tbh, this issue was very probably a mis-calibration or colour workflow issue, which is exacerbated by Adobe apps 'hanging onto' one display profile until a window is released in the other screen. Apple native apps don't suffer from that, each part of an image being dragged to another monitor is always at the correct profile for the screen that part is visible on. If the profiling & workflow are set correctly in Adobe, colours match properly in all but the 'carry over' scenario.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2020 at 18:20
  • Hmm, does that mean OP could just keep hitting next through all the dialogues to create a "transparent" profile that doesn't do anything? Jan 2, 2020 at 19:11
  • 1
    There is no such thing. A profile with zero values throughout is still a profile - just a godamn awful one with absolutely no use whatsoever to man nor beast. The issue with the OP is really that it was an XY Problem. If they have two apps with two apparently different interpretations on the same image, they have their workflow set up wrongly in Adobe.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2020 at 19:23
  • It doesn't disable color management for me. When I set a profile where the colors are intentionally completely off and then open the window, they are still completely off.
    – Mecki
    Apr 24, 2021 at 20:39

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