Designing websites with a mac - What about the monitor's gamma difference?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by brakai295, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. brakai295 macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2008
    Hey there,

    I've been designing websites on a Windows machine for almost 10 years now. Since I'm moving countries and need to purchase new equipment all together, I'm thinking about getting an iMac and make the switch.

    One of my main concerns as a professional web designer is the brighter screens on the macs (different gamma settings). After all the average website is usually seen by about 85% windows users which I would like to optimise my designs for. While I'm not worried about how the website works on a mac (I work according to web standards), I'm very concerned that e.g. the gray colour tones that I use will end up looking totally different on my clients screen or the website visitor's screen.

    I know that a lot of the top web designers out there use Macs for their designs in Photoshop. How do you prevent the brightness issue from happening?

  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    Well, Mac browsers are all standards-based, much more so than Windows thanks to IE. Your comment sounds a little conceded.

    Some reading:

    Also search this forum and the photography forum as this is a question that has come up a few times before. The gamma issue isn't as present as it once was. Most people won't notice any differences, except for people that work in these fields. The biggest differences I see are in laptops and desktops, irregardless of OS, which you can't really account for. So, generally speaking, I don't worry about gamma differences between Mac and Win for web design. Though designing for print is a different case.
  3. brakai295 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2008

    thanks for the quick reply.

    In re to my comment about web standards: it's a fact that safari still has some minor issues with some javascript/ajax applications and certain CSS styles are applied differently (e.g. form buttons). But I don't want to discuss this here.

    You are right. This issue has been more significant on older Macs, however it still exists. Some of my websites look very much different on my friends Macs due to the brightness/gamma difference.

    While users might not notice, I'm worried my designs make a different impression on my graphic savvy clients.

    The 1st of the articles you referred to I already found via Google. Both of them seem to be pretty outdated.

    My question to the professional web designers here: what do you do to overcome these issues?

  4. dtyson macrumors member

    Jan 20, 2008
    I test my designs on both platforms and in multiple browsers before going live. I do everything on a Mac and have very rarely had anything more than a negligible difference between platforms (in terms of color).

    Why would I say "negligible"? I say it because I also know that I'm looking at a given design on an infinitely small number of machines, monitors, color profiles, platforms, browsers, etc., etc. in comparison to what's actually out there around the world. Two people using the same exact machine model can have wildly different experiences, which we know is settings dependent. There is just no way to "cover it all".

    I let the Mac serve as my guide. If there's a huge issue between the testing machines I use at work, I'll fix it. But again - there rarely is.

    I guess this would leave you with a couple of options:

    1) Buy the Mac and alternate between various color profiles in which you've set different gamma settings (and continue using your PC with an international power converter as part of your "testing ground") or

    2) Buy another PC and continue on as you've been going.

    Either way, good luck.
  5. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2004
    Calgary, AB
    I've just bit the bullet and calibrate my monitors to a PC gamma setting. Been working like this for a few years and it seems to be the easiest way to go.
  6. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    Those issues are because Safari is doing it right rather than what IE has been doing. Safari shows form buttons a little different, but that doesn't go against CSS standards, it's simply a OS difference, which CSS allows for. If that difference negatively effects a web site, then the site was designed poorly.

    As I mentioned before, if you search the forum you'll find other threads like this one.
  7. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Apple brought us the 1.8 gamma setting. It is my understanding that Apple will make their new native gamma to the widely used PC gamma of 2.2 in Snow Leopard. I would design around 2.2 pc gamma before I used 1.8.
  8. Sayer macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6) will allegedly switch to 2.2 gamma from 1.8 e.g. get darker overall. Problem solved!

    The Windows-ification of the Mac continues.
  9. Cory5412 macrumors member

    May 14, 2004
    It's pretty easy to kick a Mac over to the PC gamma, you just go into the displays control panel, and you may need to go through the little colorsync "calibration" thing.

    If you've got a hardware calibrator such as a Spyder, a Pantone Huey, or an i1 Display, then the software from that device will kick you over to the PC gamma too.

    I don't think that using the PC gamma is "windows-ification" as much as "doing what everyone else is doing in the interest of getting better results all around."
  10. snickelfritz macrumors 65816


    Oct 24, 2003
    Tucson AZ
    Windows monitors are not only darker/more contrasty than Mac, they usually are not set up for a truly neutral gray, so colors are never likely to be correct.

    All you can do is calibrate your Mac to be as close as possible to a neutral reference.
    Use sRGB color profile for your images.
    Windows users will probably not see any difference between your site and any other color correct site.
  11. noodlehead macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2008
    Gamma 1.8 default is nuts

    I'm not sure you can say PC screens are darker/more contrasty than Macs. Both systems allow for adjustment. With decent hardware calibration, either system will give you your chosen gamma and good grays, in my experience (assuming you are starting with a quality screen).

    While I am a Mac guy, I shook my head in wonder when I realized that the iMac I got my mother a few months ago was default set at 1.8 gamma. This is outrageous. Even the Mac support site says to switch to 2.2 for general use.

    There has to be a standard for web viewing, and it has become 2.2, whatever you may think of that. Go to any site where there are pro-quality photos (Pbase,, etc.) and try viewing at 1.8. Arrrgh. Now I have to put a note at the top of my website warning people with iMacs that the pics will look muddy. Snow Leopard is going to default to 2.2? Thanks, Apple. A little late on that one...
  12. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I did not read his comment as being conceited againt the mac, just conceited against those who don't code to web standards! I fully support that.

    the mac's gamma settings can be set via the color calibration settings in the display preferences. The first thing I do when I get a new mac is set it to the PC standard setting... problem solved.
  13. theappleguy macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2005
    I've also calibrated my monitors to a setting similar to PC gamma settings. Looks much better than the default gamma settings.
  14. pelsar macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2008
    Its a "non issue"....the defaults are "close enough".....and there is little you can do about screens getting older, personal settings, lighting settings in offices and homes, etc

    .....its the nature of the internet that every machine will see things just a bit different.

    and for those who deal with print, and attempt to have some consistency between the colors, its a losing battle, staying with the mac with its better screens will simply look different on the pc...

    (i've been designing on both since the internet started....)

Share This Page