How to Set Photoshop to Match Your Printer


While color may seem like an easy thing to interpret between your monitor and your printer, the huge variety in colors and the different ways to generate a specific color mean that images you print may not entirely resemble the image that was on your screen. More advanced graphics editing programs, including Adobe Photoshop, have color management options and embedded color profiles that help the program to correctly interpret the color-generation techniques of your printer so that your prints more closely resemble what you saw on the screen.

  • Find your printer's International Color Consortium (ICC) file. This file is usually bundled on your driver installation CD, or can be found online from your printer manufacturer's website. Every individual printer series has a unique ICC color profile file, so find the one that matches your printer exactly. If you have installed your printer's drivers from a CD, try searching for files ending in .icc or .icm.

  • Open Photoshop and the image you want to print by clicking on the "File" menu and choosing "Open." Navigate to the image file, click on it and then click "Open."

  • Assign the color profile to the image by clicking on the "Image" menu and choosing "Mode" and then "Assign Profile." Find the ICC or ICM file associated with your printer, select it and click "OK."

  • Edit the photo using your printer's colorspace. Because Photoshop will limit the available colors to the colors that can be rendered by your printer, the image you can see on the screen will more faithfully be represented on paper.

  • Access the "File" menu and choose "Print with preview."

  • Under the "Color Handling" drop down menu, select "Let Photoshop Determine Colors." Photoshop should automatically apply your printers ICC color profile, but if it does not, select your printer's profile from the list.

  • Under the "Rendering Intent" option, choose "Relative Colorimetric" and check "Black Point Compensation" to tell Photoshop to render the colors in a way that matches the colors your printer is able to print.

Tips & Warnings

  • Professional photo editors tend to prefer to edit their photos in another colorspace, such as Adobe RGB, to have a greater variety of colors and gradients available. Then, before printing, they return the photo to the printer's colorspace and let Photoshop automatically convert the colors to printer-safe colors. This mode is preferable to achieve the greatest flexibility when editing the photo, but is not recommended for beginners as it is easy to forget in what colorspace you are working and end up making the photo look worse.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images
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