Q&A: Managing colour profiles

Q The list of colour profiles appearing in the popup menu in my Print dialog is too long, and I will not use most of the profiles listed. I therefore decided to remove some using the Finder, but they still appear in the menu. Is there a better way to manage these?

A Good professional ColorSync profile managers seem to be the preserve of high-end colour management software and hardware, and there do not appear to be any free or cheap tools that will do this task easily.

Display, but only display, profiles can be edited in the Display pane of System Preferences, in the Color tab, but the old ColorSync pane that provided overall control in older versions of Mac OS has long been removed. Its partial replacement is the ColorSync Utility, normally installed as part of Mac OS X in the /Applications/Utilities folder. This has several valuable features, including the facility to verify and repair profiles, but does not itself manage installed profiles.

colorsyncutilpYou may find it useful for identifying the exact path to each profile that it lists: click on its Profiles tool, and you will see available profiles separated into different groups. You can then use the Finder to remove any that are superfluous. These are installed in multiple ColorSync/Profiles folders inside each Library folder, in /System/Library (‘System’, avoid fiddling here), /Library (‘Computer’), and ~/Library (‘User’).

Just to add to the complexity, Adobe applications also tend to add folder aliases within those profiles folders, linking to their own profiles that are stored in /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Color/Profiles, for instance, and listed under the Other heading in ColorSync Utility. Thus you may think that you have removed the only copy of a given profile, only to discover that you have left behind a duplicate kept in another location.

Once you have pruned your profiles, log out and log back in again, or even better restart with the Shift key held down, to flush caches and the like and apply your changes.

Updated from the original, which was first published in MacUser volume 27 issue 23, 2011.