New Microsoft Color Control Panel


If you are into serious color work you need to calibrate the color profiles so the colors you see on your screen match the colors output by your printer. You also want to make sure your color scanner is calibrated so images you scan in will match the colors exactly as you see it on your monitor. Microsoft has quietly released the Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet for Windows XP that lets you calibrate all three types of devices so the colors match exactly. You can easily create color profiles depending on which pairs of devices you want to match with a simple selection. Features as listed on the download web page:

Using the Microsoft Color Control Panel Applet, you can:

  • Install and uninstall ICC color profiles
  • Inspect, rename, and compare two different color profiles
  • View a 3D graphics plot of color profile color gamuts
  • Associate color profiles with devices such as printers, monitors, and scanners
  • Apply custom color gamut adjustments to one or more displays “on the fly”
  • Set up display calibration reminders at intervals you specify


Tim Grey

The Color Control Panel for Windows XP is indeed a “PowerToy” created by the development division of the group I’m working on at Microsoft. It adds some great functionality for color management, with my favorite being the gamut viewer it includes. I’d be happy to field questions about this or any of the other efforts we’re making.

You can also e-mail, which one of my staff monitors. While the PowerToys aren’t officially supported, we do want to do what we can to make sure you have a good experience with Windows.

Feel free to e-mail me directly as well at if you have other suggestions for things Microsoft could do to make Windows a better platform for professional photographers.


Tim Grey
Group Program Manager
Rich Media Group
Microsoft Corporation

This post is provided “as is” and confers no rights.


Has anyone gotten this to work? The program appeared to download and install fine, adding a Control Panel item, but attempting to launch this results in a few seconds of an hourglass cursor but nothing more. I’ve tried on two XP SP2 machines – a desktop and a Tablet. Is there some trick to getting this to work?

Walter Willis

I would still rely on hardware color calibration if you are doing serious work.

Tim Grey who publishes the “Digital Darkroom Q&A” email list ( has authored several books on this subject and now works at Microsoft.

I am wondering whether this is the effort of some of the folks on his team. I plan on emailing him to see what he thinks about relying on this for calibration. Thanks for the tip James.

Marc Orchant

James – Thanks for the pointer. As a veteran of more years than I care to admit in the prepress industry, let me caution you and your readers to have realistic expectations about color profiling. It will get you closer to a consistent display of color across devices but it will never be exact. There’s a lot of science involving transmissive vs. reflective light, the impact of ambient lighting on color perception, and the color space representation possible in both RGB (monitor and scanner) and CMYK (printing) to factor in. I used to teach a six-week class on creating a best-case color environment for printers and designers. And, back in the day when I was a service bureau owner/operator, I spent more than $50K creating a color accurate scanning and correction room – that was just the room and lighting, not the actual hardware!

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