Why Safari 3 is Great

By now you have probably read a lot about Safari 3 for Windows and why various bloggers dislike it. Some hate its instability (what a surprise for a beta), some cannot stand its anti-aliasing, and so on. I love Safari 3 for one and only one reason, color management. Unlike Firefox, Safari respects images embedded color profiles.

If you wonder why this feature is so important to me, consider the following screenshot. It shows the same photo (a JPG of mine available on Flickr) rendered in Safari 3, on the left, and Firefox 2, on the right, both running on Windows XP.

Safari vs Firefox

Look at the colors, in particular at the jelly fish itself. While Safari displays the image as I intended it to be, Firefox throws away my color profile and renders something that is totally off. As a result, the photo you see with Firefox is not the photo I shot and developed.

It takes a lot of time and effort to take good pictures and I am always frustrated when I see my work butchered by web browsers that do not respect the color profile I created for my monitor. No matter what you think of Safari 3, think about using it the next time you look at someone’s pictures. You’ll do yourself and the author a big favor by enjoying the pictures as they are supposed to be seen.

You can look at the original photograph on Flickr.

45 Responses to “Why Safari 3 is Great”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t color management enabled by default since Safari 2 (Mac OS X 10.3)?

  2. Romain Guy says:

    I was talking about Windows specifically :)

  3. Edwin Martin says:

    First you use a feature only a minor browser supports (color management) and then you are frustrated your image doesn’t look right in other browsers?? Try to be more pragmatic and you’ll be a happier person.

  4. Windows… Right! Kinda forgot about that OS lately.
    Just got it, but you answered faster :P

  5. Romain Guy says:

    Edwin, you miss the point. This is not a feature that I “use.” It’s like telling me not to complain because IE6 does not support transparent PNG. Color management is very important when you deal with photographs, at least if you want your printed copies to look correct.

  6. Here’s the other side of the coin from an album/print provider perspective (I’m just a customer, but was coincidentally reading these last night!):


    I’d never consider someone elses monitor to be a totally accurate represention of a photo — too many variations in contrast, brightness, ambient light etc. Ultimately, an ICC should only matter when the photos are printed, otherwise you should really accept that 95% of the display devices in the world use sRGB. Deal with it and don’t try to boil the ocean.

  7. Furthermore, you admit that you’ve targeted the photograph to use “the color profile I created for *my* monitor” (emphasis mine). So, if you were getting it printed, you use the ICC profile of the printer that was being used. Or, if you wanted to display your photo accurately to millions of people in the world, you’d target their profile: sRGB.

  8. andhapp says:

    This is exactly what I observed. The way Safari renders the text and images is absolutely brilliant.

    Put your firefox and safari windows next to each other and you will notice the difference instantly. When it comes to display MAC’s are by far the best.

  9. claude says:


    So, one tiny feature that most people won’t notice is better in Safari.

    Everything else? Firefox.

  10. Something’s odd here. I’m viewing this in Firefox, and i’m able to see the difference. How does this happen then, that Firefox is able to reproduce the way that Safari is rendering? Or does this image use another colorspace?

  11. Romain Guy says:

    Why is it so hard for you guys to admit that Firefox does not do everything right? I’ve used sRGB many times for my pictures but it has its own problems, most notably a limited color space that can be annoying in some situations.

  12. Romain – so the original image and the image in this entry use different colorspaces? Because otherwise, how would i be able to see the difference in Firefox (or Safari for that matter)?

  13. Romain Guy says:

    Kirill, this is because I took a screenshot of Safari and Firefox :) If you open this page in Safari and Firefox, you will see that the image from the blog entry is rendered differently.

  14. Yes, but when i’m viewing this page, i see both parts of the image in the same browser (Firefox). So how is it that i see the difference in rendering if the Safari “part” is still rendered in Firefox (when i’m viewing it right now). Wouldn’t it be the same (when viewed in Firefox)?

  15. Romain Guy says:

    No, because I took a screenshot of both. So this image contains the interpretation of the jelly fish by both browser. No matter how the browser displays it, you will see the difference. But as I said, my comparison image looks different in both browsers and the jelly fish still does not look like I intended in Firefox :)

  16. Original says:

    Where is the original image so we can compare for ourselves instead of using the screenshot you provided?

  17. Brad Harris says:

    One good thing, and a handful of bad.

  18. Romain Guy says:

    Original, I added the link to the blog entry.

    Brad, like what? (Crashes aside please.)

  19. Vince says:

    I agree with you Roman; correct colour rendering on photographs is a killer feature on a browser.

    In contrast to andhapp, however, I think text rendering does not appear to be as sharp as IE6.

    Overall, I thought the interface somewhat cluttered and the dull grey look and feel uninspiring.

  20. Aziz K says:

    Mais ils sont fous! :o) Sorry I had to say it, my French is rustier that a 59 Chevy parked in Florida.

    What wrong with you guys?
    Romain is trying to say that Firefox isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. I love my Firefox, but moving forward, I know exactly what to use when I need the best browser-based image rendering browser.
    I might even decide to use Safari as my default browser, last time I checked, my wife’s name wasn’t Firefox.

    Merci Romain.

    One day we will see religion and technology fuse into one scary thing.

  21. Romain Guy says:

    Besides, what about using several web browsers? That’s what I do on Mac OS X, even though Safari is my primary one, I do use Firefox in some situations.

    Vince, text rendering is definitely different and being a Mac OS X user I actually prefer it, at least on my screen. But that’s really a matter of taste so I won’t comment further on that :)

  22. Mark Hiller says:

    Hi Romain,

    really nice jelly fish. I just checked the Flickr image out on my MacBook, with Safari 3.0 and Firefox side by side. And it really makes a great difference.

    Anyway Its always best to pick the tool, which delivers the best result, no matter what name tag is on it. I am using Linux at work, developing for Windows and at home I use a Mac. Of course I develop in Java : )

    I am glad you pointed this rendering issue out to us.

    Thanks Mark

  23. Jamie Swain says:

    I can see the difference big time. Maybe I will switch back to Safari once they get past the beta stage on 3.0.

  24. Pascal says:

    Thanks for the info, as I didn’t know a browser that handle profiles.

    Unfortunately, it’s a beta. First page I browsed with Safari, and some text is missing at display. Text selection is strange. I thinnk there’s a lot of work before a release.

  25. GB says:

    Hey, I installed Safari 2 days ago and thought it was crap (personal preference about text antialiasing and the overall UI)… but now that you have showed this to me, I am going to be more interested in Safari
    It is, in effect, the only one browser that displays your image nicely on my computer (tested on IE7, IE6 and FF2… those have all the same rendering algorithm…)!!! to be continued…

  26. JongAm Park says:

    It was simple but nice professional view on the Safari 3. There can be lots of reason why people like the Safari 3 or the Firefox, but whatever reasons they are, your view is worthy of considering.

    I translated your posting to Korean, and posted to my blog at http://jongampark.egloos.com to make it readable to many Koreans. :)

    Thank you.

  27. Theodore says:

    Probably the simple rule is to use srgb for the web and the result is the same for all the visitors.
    Do you experience any worthwhile difference between srgb and argb (shown as srgb and argb correctly)?

  28. Romain Guy says:

    Theodore: **Printing**. Again, why should we have to find a workaround? I used that argument already, but we used to hate IE in part because of its lack of support for transparent PNGs… Firefox is good but not perfect, and other browsers have qualities.

  29. Mike says:

    I am more concerned about the non-standard and seemingly random way it handles javascript. Onload, for instance, does not fire at the time the dom is actually loaded.

    This is basic browser behaviour that even IE has got right (and that is saying something). I am not concerned about colour if this isn’t done. And remote code execution.

  30. David says:

    The browser war has come to a new start with that safari 3…
    i think there’s way too much emotion in all of this discussion! guys! just use the browser you like (for your own reasons) and stop trying to make a case out of it.
    (by the way romain, I totally agree with your point : in some cases, the perfectionist in all of us will enjoy that nice feature safari 3 has brought in) ;)

  31. James Ward says:

    Hi Romain,

    Just out of curiosity, how does Flash do in your color test?


  32. Romain Guy says:

    I didn’t try, I’ll take a look tonight. That would be interesting to know indeed.

  33. joey says:

    i use a macbook and firefox shows colors in images exactly how i want them to be, but safari 2 doesn’t. safari 3 as well, duh.

    i dunno what the problem is and ive been looking for a solution to this for a while now.

  34. Photo Grad says:

    The web isn’t, and never will be, a gallery. Even between galleries, you absolutely must print for the light under which your work will be seen.

    But you don’t have that luxury with the web; the client controls the environment: monitor gamma, ambient light, video card, OS, browser. So it’s really just pandering to photographers that makes Safari want to render embedded profiles. The reality is, noone else will see it as you intend.

    And even if they did, they bring what they want to the table when they see it–a nugget of photo-philosophy that’s about a century old.

    The bottom line is that professionalism is great and all, but you really just sound like a pretentious turd. If you want it to look nice across browsers, use what the WC3 recommends for untagged images: SRGB.

  35. hans says:

    Fx3.. your 2nd link is broken.

  36. Your blog is so nice, I like it.

  37. Hong Venable says:

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