Use reference modes with your Apple display

Find out how to use the reference modes included with your MacBook Pro with Liquid Retina XDR display, Studio Display or Pro Display XDR and how to create custom reference modes tailored to specific workflow needs.

MacBook Pro, Studio Display and Pro Display XDR include several reference modes that cover typical content creation workflows across several media types. If you have a custom colour workflow, you can create custom reference modes specific to your needs.


Choose a reference mode

To choose a reference mode from System Settings (or System Preferences):

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences).
  2. Click Displays.
  3. If you have multiple displays connected:
    • In macOS Ventura, select the display at the top of the Displays window.
    • In macOS Catalina or earlier, click Display Settings, then select the display in the sidebar.
  4. From the Preset pop-up menu, choose a reference mode.

You can also choose a reference mode from the Control Centre:

  1. Click the Control Centre icon  in the menu bar.
  2. Click Display, 
  3. Click the right arrow button  next to the display that you want to use the reference mode with, then choose a mode. For quick switching between modes, choose the reference modes that you want to appear in Control Centre.

True Tone, Auto Brightness and Night Shift might not be available with your selected mode.


Choose favourite reference modes

You can choose which reference modes appear in the Display section of Control Centre:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences).
  2. Click Displays.
  3. If you have multiple displays connected:
    • In macOS Ventura, select the display at the top of the Displays window.
    • In macOS Monterey or earlier, click Display Settings, then select the display in the sidebar.
  4. Click the Preset pop-up menu, then choose Customise Presets.
  5. In the Show in Menu column, select the reference modes that you want to appear in Control Centre, then click Done.


Find out about reference modes

You can use the reference modes included with your display to match the production requirements of HDR, HD, SD video and other media types. Each reference mode sets the colour space, whitepoint, gamma and brightness on your display.

This section provides details about each reference mode included with your display.

Apple XDR Display (P3-1600 nits)

On MacBook Pro, use this mode for general home and office environments. This mode is based on the wide colour P3 primaries used by Apple displays and includes Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR) support up to 1,600 nits (peak).

Pro Display XDR (P3-1,600 nits)

On Pro Display XDR, use this mode for general home and office environments. This mode is based on the wide colour P3 primaries used by Apple displays and includes Extreme Dynamic Range (XDR) support up to 1,600 nits (peak).

Apple Display (P3-500 nits)

Use this mode for general home and office environments. This mode is based on the wide colour P3 primaries and supports a brightness range of up to 500 nits typical of Apple built-in displays. On Studio Display, this mode appears as Apple Display (P3-600 nits) and supports a brightness range of up to 600 nits.

HDR Video (P3-ST 2084)

Use this mode on MacBook Pro or Pro Display XDR for 4K or ultra-high-definition video production workflows up to 1,000 nits (full-screen sustained) using the wide colour P3 primaries and the high-dynamic-range SMPTE ST-2084 EOTF. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per ITU-R BT.2100.

HDTV Video (BT.709-BT.1886)

Use this mode for high-definition video production workflows targeting the ITU-R BT.709 and BT.1886 recommendations. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per ITU-R BT.2035.

NTSC Video (BT.601 SMPTE-C)

Use this mode for standard-definition or archival video production workflows targeting the ITU-R BT.601 recommendation and SMPTE-C colour primaries. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per ITU-R BT.2035.

PAL and SECAM Video (BT.601 EBU)

Use this mode for standard-definition or archival video production workflows targeting the ITU-R BT.601 recommendation and EBU Tech 3213 colour primaries. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per ITU-R BT.2035.

Digital Cinema (P3-DCI)

Use this mode for motion picture and post-production workflows using the P3 theatrical colour space and digital cinema whitepoint. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per SMPTE RP 431-2:2011.

Digital Cinema (P3-D65)

Use this mode for motion picture and post-production workflows using the P3 theatrical colour space with the D65 whitepoint. This mode is designed for controlled viewing environments set up per SMPTE RP 431-2:2011. 

Design and Print (P3-D50)

Use this mode for graphic design, printing and publishing workflows. This mode uses wide colour P3 primaries for a wider colour gamut than a typical sRGB display. Instead of D65, it uses the D50 whitepoint typically used to evaluate the colour of printed output in line with ISO 3664:2009 and ISO 12646:2015 specifications.

Photography (P3-D65)

Use this mode for typical digital photography workflows. This mode uses wide colour P3 primaries with the D65 whitepoint typically used for screen-based viewing and is designed for appropriately set up and controlled viewing environments. 

Internet and Web (sRGB)

Use this mode for content creation workflows targeting the web or other internet-based uses. This mode uses the broadly supported sRGB (IEC 61966-2-1:1999) colour space per the W3C CSS Colour Module Level 3 recommendation and is designed for appropriately set up and controlled viewing environments (64 lux is recommended).


Custom reference modes

Advanced users can create customised reference modes tailored to unique workflow needs by selecting from several colour gamut, whitepoint, luminance and transfer function options. Find out more about the advanced options you can configure for custom reference modes

Create a custom reference mode

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences).
  2. Click Displays.
  3. If you have multiple displays connected:
    • In macOS Ventura, select the display at the top of the Displays window.
    • In macOS Monterey or earlier, click Display Settings, then select the display in the sidebar.
  4. Click the Presets pop-up menu, then choose Customise.
  5. Click the Add button , then customise the settings for your reference mode.
  6. Enter a name and description for your reference mode, then click Save Preset.

Import and export custom reference modes

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences).
  2. Click Displays.
  3. If you have multiple displays connected:
    • In macOS Ventura, select the display at the top of the Displays window.
    • In macOS Monterey or earlier, click Display Settings, then select the display in the sidebar.
  4. Click the Presets pop-up menu, choose Customise, then do either of the following:
    • To import a reference mode, select the Action menu , choose Import, select the file you want to import, then click Open.
    • To export a reference mode, choose a reference mode, select the Action menu , choose Export, then click Save.


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