Printer Test Settings


Today’s Question: When using his printer tonal range target image, I would like to know whether to choose “Printer Manages Colors” vs “Photoshop Manages Color” and whether to choose Black and White or Color in the Printer dialog box.

Tim’s Quick Answer: When printing the printer tonal range target image, you should use the same settings you normally would when printing a photographic image. That generally means using the “Photoshop Manages Color” option and turning off color management in the printer settings. It also typically means setting the printer to Color rather than Black & White.

More Detail: The printer tonal range target image is something I developed for testing the tonal range capabilities of your printer, so you can apply adjustments before printing that will help ensure the print exhibits maximum highlight and shadow detail. When printing the tonal range target image, you want to use the same settings you normally would for the type of paper you’re testing with your printer. You can download the target image and learn more about how to use it on the GreyLearning blog here:

Generally speaking, I recommend using the “Photoshop Manages Colors” option when printing from Photoshop. That requires, however, that you specify a profile for the printer, ink, and paper combination you’ll be using for printing. These profiles are generally available from the manufacturer of the paper you will be using.

When using the “Photoshop Manages Colors” option, you need to select the appropriate profile from the Printer Profile popup. You also need to make sure that color management is turned off in the printer driver dialog, so that color management corrections are not being applied twice to the image you are printing.

If you don’t have a profile for the paper you’re printing to, you can instead use the “Printer Manages Colors” option, and then enable color management (and possibly color adjustments) in the printer driver settings.

In most cases I recommend setting the output to Color rather than Black & White, even if you’ll be printing a monochromatic image. You can achieve a much greater range of tonal values by allowing the printer to blend all of the colors of ink to produce a neutral print, rather than relying only on the black in (or inks) available on your printer.

You can learn more about color management (with a discount included automatically) with my “Color Management for Photographers” course, available on the GreyLearning website here: