Using Photoshop 2014.2.0 Release on Windows, I created a new image with color mode RGB color - 8bit and color profile sRGB. I deleted my PS settings to reset it all to default.

On the Color picker I choose RGB and introduced: 203,55,55 (or cb3737 in HEX).

Using Color Cop (a tool to get colors from any pixel on screen) if I try to see the color used on the little 'preview' square on photoshop I get color E42829 which is different from my intended CB3737. I can also notice the difference in color tone with my eyes.

enter image description here

Using the browser to check color #CB3737 I can also notice the difference between color shown in Photoshop and in other tools. I know browsers have issues with colors so I'm not trusting them a lot, just another example.

What is going on and why do I 'select' a color in Photoshop that is then translated into another another in the same app (preview square). I read a bit about color profiles but I am a bit surprised with this "voodoo.


I don't remember having anything fancy related to color profile on my Windows but maybe sometimes drivers can change those things. I only work with graphics designed to be shown on web.

  • If you haven't calibrated your monitor then anything you get is purely random. Its just indication that your color will vary form machine to machine (no such thing as that exact color on the web). Either you calibrate your monitor or stop being pedantic, those numbers have no accurate meaning without calibration. This is a possible duplicate of this , this or this. Please note browsers are profile aware, your app is not.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 6:56

1 Answer 1


Photoshop is colour managed. That means that when you look at an image within Photoshop it is displaying it using a colour profile. This might be a profile specified by the image, it might be the default profile set within photoshop or it could be a profile that you've assigned manually.

You can get an idea of what photoshop is doing by checking colour settings: in photoshop use Ctrl+Shift+K (on a Mac that would be Command+Shift+K).

Generally your RGB working space in Photoshop will be sRGB IEC61966-2.1 (and probably should be, unless you've got good reason not to have it set up this way). This is different to your monitor's RGB profile (either the default RGB profile your monitor is assigned, or a calibrated one that you've created for it).

The fact that the image is likely sRGB and your monitor is using a monitor RGB profile is why the two colour pickers don't agree.

To fix your problem you have a couple of options - and one warning.

Option one:
you can go by photoshop's colour picker values rather than colour cop - use these in the rest of your designs if that's what you are looking to do.

Option two:
Use a colour picker that understands the different profiles and can pick knowing that there's an sRGB profile (and conversion) going on. I use Xscope on the mac which can be set up to work with colour profiles.

The warning:
When you output the images be sure not to assign (or convert to) a colour profile to them - otherwise you are in for no end of 'fun'. If you use save for web or export, un-check the 'Convert to sRGB' tick-box. Not doing this will cause a colour shift in the resulting file.

To add to the fun, some browsers and systems get colour management. This means that if you look at an image with an sRGB profile it might very well look different from browser to browser (This gets very handy if you are saving out photos to look at on newer P3 displays!).

If you want to find out more about this, I highly recommend Craig Hockenberry's short book Making sense of color management https://abookapart.com/products/making-sense-of-color-management - It deals with this complex topic in a really engaging and usable way (and did I mention that it's short?)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.