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Have you ever been in a situation where the colors in an image looked great on your monitor, but when you printed the image the colors didn't look the same? Well, that's a problem of Color Management. Elements makes it as easy as possible to try to get the colors that you see when you're working on an image in Elements to match the Colors in your prints or in photos that you display on screen, but that's no easy task. The reason is that colors in the digital world are really just numerical values and those values have to be interpreted to become colors that we can see.
Every digital device that you use, your camera, your monitor, your printer, your scanner, translates color values into visible colors in a unique way and that's what causes a potential lack of consistency of color from device to device. The solution is that manufacturers of printers and cameras and other digital devices came up with a system of adding small bits of information called ICC color profiles to digital images. You might think of color profiles as descriptions for your printer and other output devices of the way that you want colors in an image to be interpreted.
Elements uses this system of Color Profiles and in order to do that properly in Elements, you first have to set up the program's Color Settings. That's done in the Color Settings dialog box. To open that dialog box, I am going to go to the Edit menu and down to Color settings. Now this dialog box, although simplified in Elements, can be intimidating. So, let me explain what these choices mean and what I recommend that you do here. In this dialog box, you get to choose how you're going to manage Color in your images. The first choice, No Color Management, is not the one that I recommend.
If you choose No Color Management, then you are allowing Elements to display Colors in a file using the idiosyncratic way that your particular monitor displays Color and that isn't necessarily the way that Colors are going to be displayed anywhere else, in a print or on anyone else's monitor, to whom you send an image or who have used the image on the web. Also if you do choose No Color Management, there will be no Color Profile attached to your photo. And so the next device down the line, say your printer, won't know how you expect the Colors in the photo to be interpreted.
So, No Color Management, not a good choice. The next choice, the default, Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens is a good choice if most of the photos that you work on are ones that you share with other people online, either by attaching them to emails or on a website or on a blog or by posting them to Face Book or Flickr or some other social media site or even if you're making a slideshow or you're preparing photos for a PowerPoint presentation that is going to be displayed on a computer screen.
This choice, Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, keeps the colors that you see on screen within a color range known as the as the sRGB color range, as it says here. The sRGB color range reflects the way that most computer monitors, at least on a PC, display Color. So, this choice is best for images that will be displayed on screen, as I said. However, if you're someone who usually prints their photos on a Desktop Inkjet printer then the best choice for you is not Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens but rather Always Optimize for Printing.
This will display your photos based on a range of colors within the Adobe RGB color space, which is a much broader range of colors than the sRGB color space. So this choice is a better bet when you're preparing images for print. The last choice, Allow Me to Choose, may sound like a good one, but actually this choice is going to give you a headache because if you select the Allow Me to Choose option, then every time that you open a file that doesn't contain a Color Profile, Elements is going to ask you what you want to do and that means that you have to make a Color Management decision over and over again.
So, I don't suggest selecting Allow Me to Choose. Instead, as I said, if you generally prepare images for print, then choose Always Optimize for Printing. If you generally prepare images for viewing on screen, choose Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens. And that's the choice that I am going to select. When I'm satisfied with my choice, I will click OK. One more thing, if you really want your Color Settings to do their job, you have to calibrate your monitor and that means setting your monitor to its standard settings and generating a Color Profile for your monitor, which describes how your particular monitor interprets Color.
The way to do that is to go out and purchase and then use a hardware calibrator, which you can buy from a number of different third-party manufacturers and that's another important step in your Color Management workflow in Elements.
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