Software settings

Using a specific print profile from Photoshop or other ICC aware programs

One of the irritating things about printing photos using third-party photo software, such as Photoshop etc, is that print instructions are given to the system in two separate, but interdependent, 'places': the 'Print Dialog' in the software, and in the printer driver.

Nevertheless, taking control of the the colour management, and applying the appropriate printer profile within the application gives you the greatest flexibility and opportunity to fine-tune your print colours.

This is your only option if you want to use a high-quality third-party printer paper, for which you have installed the appropriate print profile. Even if you are using one of the manufacturer’s own papers this option is still the best choice: it puts you in control and eliminates automatic ‘enhancements’ that may be done by the printer driver that may well degrade the quality of your print.

Step 1:

In the print dialog of your photo application choose the appropriate ICC profile for your printer and paper from the list under the heading ‘Profile’ or ‘Printer Profile’.

How you activate this choice differs a little from application to application.

In Lightroom you choose the profile to be applied from a drop-down list under Print/Print Job/Colour Management/Profile

In Aperture you choose the profile from a drop-down list under Print/Rendering/Colour Profile

At the top of the drop down lists for both Aperture and Lightroom is the choice 'Printer manages colours'. You do not make this selection if you are choosing your own profile.

In Photoshop Elements, Print/More Options/Colour Management/ there are two things to set:

  • under the heading Colour Handling, you select ‘Photoshop Elements manages colours’ (just in case you thought you were in control!) and
  • under the heading Printer Profile select your profile from the long drop-down list. In PSE the list contains all ICC profiles on your system, not only print profiles. Be careful not to choose something like AdobeRGB or sRGB here.

Step 2:

Now, in the printer driver menu, (sometimes called ‘Print Settings’) you specify the paper size, and media quality setting you want to use.

However, very importantly, under the choice for Colour Correction (or Colour Options or Colour Management), you must instruct the printer to do no further colour management. (If you fail to do this the printer driver will translate the file (‘colour manage’) when it has already been translated by the photo software, usually resulting in a badly over-saturated mess.)

Typically you need to make selections in the printer driver like ‘Colour Correction: none’ or ‘Colour Management:Off’ or ‘ICM: unchecked’.

Newer printer drivers for the Macintosh OSX are preset to turn off colour management if you have specified a print profile in your application's print output dialogue.


Printing via this route not only allows the use of third party papers (as long as you have installed their profile), but also allows you to use custom profiles for the printer manufacturer’s papers if you choose.

If you follow this option, you can be confident that what appears on the printer will be a good representation of the scene that the camera captured.


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