How to Add ICC Profiles In GIMP

How to Add ICC Profiles In GIMP

ICC1 By default, GIMP comes with one ICC (International Color Consortium) profile preloaded and that is sRGB.  While this color space works well for images you wish to view on a screen, its color gamut (range of colors) is more lacking than, say, Adobe 1998 or Pro Photo.  As a simple means of diagramming this, the image at left, from the Adobe whitepaper A Color Managed Raw Workflow by Jeff Schewe and Bruce Fraser, shows how each gamut can reproduce only a certain segment of the total visible color spectrum.

Using a gamut that allows for a larger color representation allows for more accurate colors when printing.  And while the full range of the Pro Photo RGB gamut can’t be faithfully reproduced on most consumer monitors today, using a larger gamut does aid in more accurate color printing.  It’s not necessary to use the Pro Photo RGB gamut for all your editing, Adobe 1998 RGB does a pretty good job.  But that’s not the focus of this post.  This article is about showing you how to use any ICC profile you’d like in GIMP and then the choice can be yours. (i.e. Please don’t start another “Gamut War!” in the comments section 🙂 )

The ICC Profile for Adobe 1998 RGB, used in this example, can be found here on Adobe’s site (Windows, Mac and Linux versions).  Download your appropriate file and copy the file named AdobeRGB1998.icc to a handy location on your system.  For this example, I created a folder on my desktop called icc to use as an example.  WARNING! GIMP really doesn’t like it if you move this file after the initial load, so be happy with where you put it.  While these instructions are based on use of a PC, the general steps are the same for Mac or Unix based systems.

Now then, here’s how to set GIMP to use the Adobe 1998 RGB color space:

1) Start up GIMP and click Edit, then Preferences.

2) On the Preferences screen, click on the Color Management tab on the left side.


3) Click on the RBG Profile box drop down and click “Select color profile from disk….”

4) A directory tree screen will appear.  Navigate to the location where you saved the file from Adobe’s site.  We’re just interested in the AdobeRGB1998.icc file.

5) Select the file and click “Open”.

6) Back on the Color Management screen, you should now see your choice of “Adobe RGB (1998)” in the RGB Profile box.

And that’s all there is to it!  Your workspace color will be set to Adobe 1998 RGB.  Very simple and quick.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • re: joel smith July 28, 2012 08:07 pm

    uploaded here:

  • Joel Smith April 2, 2012 09:38 am

    Just FYI: The link posted above for AdobeRGB1998 is dead, when followed to the download point. In fact, Adobe's page for downloading the profile for all Linix users is dead. With Adobe leaving no alternatives for downloads. Wish I could offer readers (and myself) a download site.

  • Christine July 20, 2011 04:41 am

    If I am shooting in RAW using Adobe RGB, and have calibrated my monitor would I need to enter my calibration icc code into the GIMP color management tab, or would I use the AdobeRGB1998.icc file as my color space for working? Still trying to understand this. Thanks!

  • Craig Miller January 4, 2011 08:17 pm

    Hah! Here I am googling around for Linux ICC info and I wind up on your article. :) Nicely done Peter.

  • gnohz October 26, 2010 12:43 pm

    Thank you for the information. I was searching on how to preserve colours on my images shot with Adobe RGB :) If I save my Adobe RGB images in GIMP with the Adobe ICC profile, but send them to a printer which uses RGB, will there be a significant difference in the colours in the output?
    Thanks :)

  • Angela Poovey May 10, 2010 06:31 am

    I enjoyed reading this article and did download the Adobe RGB 1998 as you suggested. However, I am wondering if GIMP embeds the color profile in an image so that when I email the image, the person can see that the color profile is Adobe this possible? I am a newbie with this stuff and am trying to figure it out. Thanks!

  • Antonio March 26, 2010 12:11 am

    Thanks for the tips. Do you know if selecting a CMYK profile will then allow me to save valid CMYK files?

  • Barry January 5, 2010 04:00 pm

    Hello: I've been finding the tutorials very useful so first off thanks for doing that. But I guess I'm replying here because I'm starting to scratch my head and don't really know where else to go, but I'm trying to figure out how to use the icc profile from my local digital print shop such that a collage that I've put together in GIMP using the default sRGB colour space will look the same by the time it's printed. As it is, they come back form the printer much darker and a bit redder I would say. I have been able to do some calibration of my monitor such that I believe my monitor is at least good enough, and for the sake of argument let's assume it is correctly set up. I guess I haven't come across anywhere that seems to give me a good step by step guide on how to do this, though I am certain it must be possible.

    I have found posts elsewhere that seemed to suggest (though I wouldn't say conclusive) that GIMP can't actually do that, though it can use the printer ICC profiles to do soft proof simulations of how they will come out, and I've also found references to a cira 2001 GIMP plugin that claims to maybe do that.

    I guess I'm maybe hoping might be able to say for certain if GIMP can or cannot do what I seem, if so how to do it, and if not perhaps other ways to do it.

    Thanks for any help,

  • Carl July 17, 2009 09:43 pm

    I'm afraid there's a lot more to it than just changing the workspace which is what the RGB profiles are. You will also need to calibrate your monitor using a colorimeter which will ensure a greater degree of colour accuracy between monitor and printer. You will then also need to profile your printer to take into consideration manufacturing differences, the inks and paper you use, You will need a different printer profile for each type of paper you use.

    After all that you might get a print the approximates the image you created on screen.

  • DM|ZE July 17, 2009 08:37 pm

    I downloaded the windows files and used them on linux as Shwaa suggested, they seem to work fine.

  • Duck Dodgers July 17, 2009 11:41 am

    Couldn't find the Linux profiles, so downloaded the Windows files...they are not text files, they are binaries.

    Soooo, anyone know where to find a profile that's compatible with Linux?

  • Leah July 14, 2009 04:05 am

    thank you! I was wondering why the beautiful green I used in a graphic didn't print the way it looked on my screen - I'll try a new color profile & see if that helps.

  • Tom July 11, 2009 09:16 am

    Thank you for the tip!

  • Ed Barnat July 11, 2009 12:13 am

    Tried it and Gimp crashed (on my Windows 7 machine) when I tried to view “Levels” on my first test file. Setting the monitor profile, in addition the RGB profile, to AdobeRGB1998 as well seems to have solved the problem.

    Thanks, Peter, keep them coming!

  • dcclark July 10, 2009 11:42 pm

    Profiles are independent of your operating system (they're basically just a text file) -- if you can get ahold of a profile, it will work anywhere..

  • shwaa July 10, 2009 08:30 pm

    For linux just download the windows version. The ICC files are the same and the windows download is just a zip file containing the profiles.

  • Gavin July 10, 2009 08:47 am

    Most SLRs have a selectable color space. My 350D can do either sRGB or Adobe. This is useful for people who want to try a larger color space.

  • DM|ZE July 10, 2009 08:40 am

    The linux version does not seem to be there... any thoughts?

  • johnny July 10, 2009 05:57 am

    Thank you for this tutorial!

  • Klaus July 10, 2009 03:15 am

    1) yes, whenever you convert an image there is always a loss of information, albeit minimal.
    2) I usually shoot RAW, and use a ProPhoto RGB as a working color space for development. When I save the final jpg I use sRGB or Adobe dependig on the lab who prints the photo.

  • martin July 10, 2009 02:24 am

    Hey! Someone could download the icc profile for linux? I can download the profile for windows, but no way for Linux. Thanks in advance

  • Rick July 10, 2009 01:03 am

    Thanks for continuing to provide GIMP tutorials. Hadn't seen this topic covered anywhere else.

  • chi July 10, 2009 12:38 am

    Thank you for this tip, Peter. I use GIMP a lot on my Ubuntu box, and this is really helpful for me. I'm looking forward to your next GIMP trick.

  • Stephen July 10, 2009 12:32 am

    Just 2 curious questions from a keen amateur.
    1. If I shoot in Adobe RGB, if I convert to sRGB in the editor, is there noticable loss? Is the reverse true?

    2. Which colour space do you shoot with on your DSLR? I've used both but seem to have settled on Adobe 1998 RGB over sRGB, though it was recommended that I do portrait shoots in sRGB as it tended to give more flattering results to skin tones. Any thoughts? Hope this is on topic!