How to Set Color Management Policies in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

After you establish working color spaces in Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 6, the next step is to establish the default color-management policy for each color mode. In other words, you need to tell Photoshop how to interpret and manage the color profiles of files it opens.

To set your color-management policies, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Color Settings dialog box by choosing Edit→Color Settings.

  2. In the Color Management Policies area, select from the following three options for each color mode:

    • Off: This option turns color management off for any new files you create, import, or open. However, if the opened or imported file’s color profile matches your current working space, the profile is preserved.

    • Preserve Embedded Profiles: This option displays the files in their original embedded color space. No color conversion occurs. Untagged files remain untagged but use the current working space for display.

    • Convert to Working RGB (or CMYK or Grayscale, depending on your image mode): This option converts any files with missing or mismatched embedded profiles to your working RGB space.

  3. Decide whether you want to select the Ask When Opening check box for Profile Mismatches.


    If you select the Ask When Opening check box for Profile Mismatches, Photoshop not only displays an Embedded Profile Mismatch alert, but also provides you with options for handling the color of that file.

    The options in the alert are similar to the default policies of the Color Settings dialog box.

    • Use the Embedded Profile (Instead of the Working Space): Photoshop displays the file in its original embedded color space and doesn’t perform any color conversions.

    • Convert Document’s Colors to the Working Space: Photoshop converts the file from its embedded color space to your working color space.

    • Discard the Embedded Profile (Don’t Color Manage): Photoshop doesn’t utilize any color management when opening files but displays the file in your working space.

    Be cautious about making any CMYK conversions.

  4. Decide whether you want to select the Ask When Pasting check box for Profile Mismatches.

    In the Paste Profile Mismatch alert dialog box, you have two options:

    • Convert (Preserve Color Appearance): Photoshop converts and matches the appearance of the color, rather than the RGB numerical values.

    • Don’t Convert (Preserve Color Number): Photoshop doesn’t convert the appearance of the color, but instead matches the RGB numerical values.

    If you don’t select the Ask When Pasting check box, Photoshop pastes the color appearance between RGB images and pastes the numerical values between CMYK images.

  5. Decide whether you want to select the Ask When Opening check box for Missing Profiles.

    If you do select the check box, Photoshop displays a Missing Profile alert and also provides you with the following options


    • Leave As Is (Don’t Color Manage): This option leaves the image untagged and without a color profile, but displays the image in your working space.

    • Assign Working RGB (or CMYK or Grayscale, depending on your image mode): your working space: Photoshop tags the image with your working space and displays it in that working space. If you change your working space, the image retains the old working space.

    • Assign Profile: This option allows you to assign any color profile contained within the pop-up menu. You can use this option if you know where the untagged image originated.

  6. If you’re done working in the Color Settings dialog box, click OK to exit.

To find out the color profile of an image, select Document Profile from the pop-up menu at the bottom of the image window.