Jan 04


I noticed when watching movies on my 27 inch iMac that they are too dark especially in dark scenes. What I mean is that there are a lot of details in the blacks missing compared to watching on a normal DVD player.  I’ve also noticed the same thing when watching a movie on a projector  hooked up to my macbook air. Turning the contrast or brightness up doesn’t work as it just washes out the blacks. Here’s the cause of this frustrating problem and how to fix it!

Firstly, here’s how to fix it…

1. Open System Preferences Menu and go to ‘Displays’


2. In the Displays Panel for your Projector select the ‘Color’ tab.

Color tab

3. Unselect the ‘Show profiles for this display on this display only’ then select one of the new profiles that appear. Try sRGB IEC1966-2.1 or  Adobe RGB(1996). See if that brightens up the movie on the projector.



4. If that doesn’t work or if you want more improvement, press the ‘Calibrate’ Button.



5. Now check the box that says ‘Expert Mode’.

Expert Mode

(Note: new versions of OS X have hidden this checkbox. Click here to find how to access it.)


6. Now press ‘Continue’ 6 times till you get to this screen that adjusts the Gamma setting:

Move the Gamma setting to the left. Go towards 1 to get your video lighter.

Move the Gamma setting to the left. Go towards 1 to get your video lighter.


Now, what’s the cause?

I’m not completely sure how Gamma works, it’s related to the way we perceive light levels and the way that increments in light intensity are is spread out at different light levels. You can read about it here on wikipedia and Apple have an article here.

The short story is that changing the Gamma setting to the left seems to help with brightening up a movie on a projector. But it looks very washed out to use this Gamma setting for everything.

So I’d suggest saving two settings, then switching the display when you want to watch a movie or use a projector.



14 Responses to “How to lighten up dark movies on your iMac or projector.”

  1. Maria says:

    Thanks for this post. At first I couldn’t get this to work. Then I read another post and realised I was calibrating my laptop screen not the projector (you can check this in the display and then the drop down menu ‘optimise for’). I turned everything off and on again and then actually found a colour profile specifically for my projector brand. Once I selected this, the colours on the projection lightened up.

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