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How to address ColorSync profile errors in OS X

If ColorSync Utility finds problems with profiles that it cannot fix, you may be able to address them by running the utility in root mode.

Apple's ColorSync technology in OS X uses calibrated profiles of correction curves and other scaling factor information to match the color of various image input and output devices such as monitors, printers, and scanners, so images viewed on them will appear as close as possible.

Most devices will use a factory-provided profile or a generic one to give a close color match, but these often have notable color discrepancies that in some cases you can manage by creating your own profiles. For example, for matching colors across different displays, you can use the Calibrate button in the Color section of the Displays system preferences to generate correction curves for your monitors, and more closely match their colors.

Since the information in these profiles is the basis for color matching, if there are any problems in the profiles, you may not see proper color management in your devices. To manage this, Apple includes a program called ColorSync Utility, with which you can run a first-aid routine on your profiles (called Profile First Aid) and see if there are any errors. In most cases, First Aid can fix the profiles, but occasionally it can't, either because the problem is severe or because the profile is inaccessible for repair by the utility.

ColorSync Utility in OS X
Besides other errors, those that indicate "File Locked" may be fixable by running the program in root mode (click for larger view). Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

If either of these problems happens, when you run the verification or repair routine you will see the same error output each time, along with a statement that the error could not be fixed. In some cases these may truly not be fixable; however, in others you may see an additional "File Locked" warning that simply indicates that a permissions restriction is preventing the fixes from working.

Many color profiles on the system are owned by the system and not your user account. This requires you to authenticate as an administrator before you can make changes to these profiles. Even if you are an admin, ColorSync Utility does not support such authentication, so its First Aid routines may be limited. You can address this issue by locating each color profile and changing its permissions settings to allow your account access, but you can also get around this by launching the entire program in root mode.

To do this, open the OS X Terminal utility and run the following command:

sudo /Applications/Utilities/ColorSync\ Utility.app/Contents/MacOS/ColorSync\ Utility

When executed, this command will ask for your password, and then launch an instance of the program with full administrative access to the system (do not close the Terminal window while the ColorSync Utility is active or it will close as well). Now run the ColorSync First Aid routine and fix the problematic profiles, which should at least fix those that were not previously addressable.

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