User Guide Cancel

Color management

  1. Lightroom Classic User Guide
  2. Introduction to Lightroom Classic
    1. What's new in Lightroom Classic
    2. Lightroom Classic system requirements
    3. Lightroom Classic | Common Questions
    4. Lightroom Classic Key Concepts
    5. Lightroom Classic tutorials
    6. Feature summary | Lightroom CC 2015.x/Lightroom 6.x releases
  3. Lightroom and Adobe services
    1. Creative Cloud Libraries
    2. Using Adobe Stock in Creative Cloud apps
  4. Lightroom for mobile, TV, and the web
    1. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for mobile and Apple TV | FAQ
    2. Sync Lightroom Classic with Lightroom ecosystem
    3. Photoshop family of mobile apps
  5. Import photos
    1. Import photos from a camera or card reader
    2. Import photos from a folder on a hard drive
    3. Import photos automatically
    4. Import photos from Photoshop Elements
    5. Import photos from a tethered camera
    6. Specify import options
    7. Set import preferences
    8. The Filename Template Editor and Text Template Editor
  6. Workflows
    1. Apply Masking in photos
    2. Export and save your photos as JPEGs
    3. Export and watermark your photos
    4. Import your photos
    5. Adjustment Brush: the basics
    6. Adjustments with the Tone Curve
    7. Advanced video slideshows
    8. Control white balance
    9. Create a contact sheet
    10. Enhance your workflow with Lightroom Classic
    11. Adjustments with Lens Blur
    12. Edit and Export in HDR
  7. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Set preferences for working in Lightroom Classic
    3. Display the Library on a second monitor
    4. Personalize identity plates and module buttons
    5. Watermark your photos in Lightroom Classic
    6. Color management
  8. Viewing photos
    1. View photos
    2. Browse and compare photos
    3. Set Library view options
    4. Share photos for comments and feedback
    5. Smart Previews
  9. Manage catalogs and files
    1. Lightroom Classic catalog FAQ
    2. How Lightroom Classic catalogs work
    3. Create and manage catalogs
    4. Back up a catalog
    5. Locate missing photos
    6. Create and manage folders
    7. Manage photos within folders
  10. Maps
    1. Work with the Map module
  11. Organize photos in Lightroom Classic
    1. Face recognition
    2. Work with photo collections
    3. Group photos into stacks
    4. Flag, label, and rate photos
    5. Use keywords
    6. Metadata basics and actions
    7. Find photos in the catalog
    8. Work with video in Lightroom Classic
    9. Advanced metadata actions
    10. Use the Quick Develop panel
  12. Process and develop photos
    1. Develop module basics
    2. Create panoramas and HDR panoramas
    3. Flat-Field Correction
    4. Correct distorted perspective in photos using Upright
    5. Improve image quality using Enhance
    6. Work with image tone and color
    7. Masking
    8. Apply local adjustments
    9. HDR photo merge
    10. Develop module options
    11. Retouch photos
    12. Cure red eye and pet eye effects
    13. Use the Radial Filter tool
    14. Use the enhanced Spot Removal tool
  13. Export photos
    1. Export files to disk or CD
    2. Export photos from Lightroom Classic
    3. Publish photos online
    4. Export to hard drive using publish services
    5. Presets for export, and other settings
  14. Work with external editors
    1. External Editing preferences
    2. Open and edit Lightroom Classic photos in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements
  15. Slideshows
    1. Create slideshows
    2. Slideshow module panels and tools
    3. Specify the slide layout
    4. Add overlays to slides
    5. Play and export slideshows
  16. Print photos
    1. Print module basics
    2. Print module layouts and templates
    3. Work with print job options and settings
  17. Photo books
    1. Create photo books
  18. Web galleries
    1. Create web galleries
    2. Use the Web module panels and tools
    3. Work with web gallery layouts
    4. Work with web gallery templates and settings
    5. Preview, export, and upload web photo galleries
  19. Keyboard shortcuts
    1. Keyboard shortcuts
  20. Troubleshooting 
    1. Fixed Issues
    2. Known Issues

The color conundrum

No device in the digital photographic workflow can reproduce the full range of colors viewable to the human eye. Each device operates within a specific color space, which simply describes a range, or gamut, of colors that the device can record, store, edit, or output. Some color spaces are bigger than others. For example, the CIE Lab space is large; the sRGB space, used by many web browsers, is relatively small.

In addition, each device describes color either additively, using the RGB color model, or subtractively, using the CMYK color model. Cameras and monitors use RGB; printers use CMYK.

Various color gamuts in Lightroom Classic CC
Color gamuts of various devices and images

A. Lab color space B. An image's color spaces C. Device color spaces 

Because of these varying color spaces, colors often look different depending on where you view them. Color management systems use profiles to reconcile color differences among devices so that you can confidently predict the color that you'll see when you share or print photos.

Matching color with profiles in Lightroom Classic CC
Matching color with profiles

A. Profiles describe the color spaces of the camera and the image. B. Using the profiles, the color management system identifies the image's actual colors. C. The monitor's profile tells the color management system how to translate the image's colors to the monitor's color space. D. Using the printer profile, the color management system translates the image's colors to the printer's color space, so the colors appear correctly in print. 

Lightroom Classic simplifies color management by displaying colors using device-independent color spaces. This means that all you need to do before working in Lightroom Classic is to calibrate your monitor. Then, when you’re in Lightroom Classic, choose color settings or color profiles when you’re ready to output your photos.

How Lightroom Classic manages color

Lightroom Classic primarily uses the Adobe RGB color space to display colors. The Adobe RGB gamut includes most of the colors that digital cameras can capture as well as some printable colors (cyans and blues, in particular) that can’t be defined using the smaller, web-friendly sRGB color space.

Lightroom Classic uses Adobe RGB:

  • for previews in the Library, Map, Book, Slideshow, Print, and Web modules
  • when printing in Draft mode
  • in exported PDF slideshows and uploaded web galleries
  • when you send a book to (If you export books as PDF or JPEG from the Book module, however, you can choose sRGB or a different color profile.)
  • for photos uploaded to Facebook and other photo-sharing sites using the Publish Services panel

In the Develop module, by default Lightroom Classic CC displays previews using the ProPhoto RGB color space. ProPhoto RGB contains all of the colors that digital cameras can capture, making it an excellent choice for editing images. In the Develop module, you can also use the Soft Proofing panel to preview how color looks under various color-managed printing conditions.

Using a soft proof to preview the final output of an image in Lightroom Classic
Using a soft proof to preview the final output of an image in Lightroom Classic

A. Image is edited in the Develop module. B. Image's color values are translated to the color space of chosen print conditions C. Lightroom Classic displays proof profile's interpretation of the image's color values. 

When you export or print photos from Lightroom Classic, you can choose a profile or a color space to determine how the colors you see in Lightroom Classic will appear on the device you’re sending the photo to. For example, you can export using sRGB if you’re going to share photos online. If you’re printing (other than Draft mode), you can choose a custom color profile for your device.

See Export file settings and Set print color management.

Calibrate your monitor

To help Lightroom Classic display colors reliably and consistently, calibrate your monitor. When you calibrate your monitor, you are adjusting it so that it conforms to a known specification. After your monitor is calibrated, you can optionally save the settings as a color profile for your monitor.

  1. If you are calibrating a CRT monitor, make sure it has been turned on for at least a half hour. This gives it sufficient time to warm up and produce more consistent output.
  2. Set the ambient lighting in your room to be consistent with the brightness and color of the lighting conditions that you usually work under.

  3. Make sure your monitor is displaying thousands of colors or more. Ideally, make sure it is displaying millions of colors or 24-bit or higher.
  4. Remove colorful background patterns on your monitor desktop, and set your desktop to display neutral grays. Busy patterns or bright colors surrounding a document interfere with accurate color perception.
  5. For best results, calibrate and profile your monitor using third-party software and measuring devices. In general, using a measuring device such as a colorimeter along with software can create more accurate profiles because an instrument can measure the colors displayed on a monitor far more accurately than the human eye.

    Otherwise, use the monitor calibration tools that come with Windows or Mac OS. To calibrate your monitor using the utility in your operating system see one of the following:


    Monitor performance changes and declines over time; recalibrate and profile your monitor every month or so. If you find it difficult or impossible to calibrate your monitor to a standard, it may be too old and faded.

Most profiling software automatically assigns the new profile as the default monitor profile. For instructions on how to manually assign the monitor profile, see your operating system’s Help.

Install a color profile

Color profiles are often installed when a device is added to your system. The accuracy of these profiles (often called generic profiles or canned profiles) varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. You can also obtain profiles from a custom profile service, download profiles from the web, or create custom profiles using professional profiling equipment.

1. To install a color profile, copy it to one of the following locations:

  • Windows 7, 8: \Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color
  • Mac OS: /Library/ColorSync/Profiles or /Users/[user name]/Library/ColorSync/Profiles

    Tip: By default on Mac OS 10.7 (Lion), the user Library folder is hidden. If you don’t see it in the Finder, press Option and click the Go menu. Then, choose Library. See Access hidden user library files | Mac OS 10.7 and later.

2. Restart Lightroom Classic.


Get help faster and easier

New user?

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online