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Printing Commands in Photoshop

Several commands are associated with printers. Those specific to your printer are controlled by the printer driver (software you install outside of Photoshop). Each driver is unique, so be sure visit the printer manufacturer’s Web site. Many different drivers are available, so instead of focusing on the multitude of manufacturers and hardware options, let’s focus on what can be controlled within Photoshop.


Photoshop offers a powerful Print command with great flexibility when printing in Photoshop. The command allows you to adjust the size of an image and its position on the page, and to specify color management policies. Learning to control the Print window allows you to get the best results.

1. Open a file you want to print.

Preview 1

2. Choose File > Print or press Command+P (Ctrl+P). The Print window is divided into three areas of functionality.

3. The left side of the Print window shows you how the image will print on the current page. Notice how the photo is currently clipped because it is too large for the selected paper. Adjust the settings in the Print window to fix clipping.

4. Choose a Printer from the Print menu. The setting you choose will depend on which printer is attached to your computer. If the printer supports it, choose the 16-bit Data option (Mac only).

5. Click the Landscape Orientation button to switch to print the image horizontally across the page.

Preview 2

6. Select the Scale To Fit Media check box. Photoshop adjusts the print resolution so the image fits on the page. If you want to permanently change the image, you’ll need to exit printing and choose Image > Image Size.

7. If needed, you can click the Print Settings button to access the printer driver controls. These allow you to adjust options like ink coverage, print quality, and paper size.

8. In the Options area select Let Printer Manage Colors for Color Handling. This is generally the best option because it lets the printer use its specialty software to get the most accurate color.

9. In the Options area you need to specify the Rendering Intent. This is how the colors will be converted for the destination color space. This option is useful for high-end printers that offer PostScript support; however, most consumer-oriented printer drivers ignore this option and use the Perceptual rendering intent, but there are four options to choose from:

Perceptual. This method attempts to present color so it is natural to the human eye, even though the color values may change.

Saturation. This method tries to produce vivid colors in an image; however, it may sacrifice color accuracy.

Relative Colorimetric. This method compares the highlights of the source color space to the destination and shifts all colors accordingly.

Absolute Colorimetric. This method leaves colors that are in gamut untouched while clipping those colors that are out of gamut for the destination color space.

10. Click the menu labeled Color Management and choose Output. Here you can select different output options like Labels and Crop Marks. For this image, the default settings are fine.

11. Once you have the print settings properly configured, you have three choices:

• To print the image, click Print.

• To close the dialog box without saving the settings, click Cancel.

• To save the printer options for later use, click Done.

When you choose to print, you might get a warning that the image is larger than the printable area of the paper. If this happens, click Cancel, choose File > Print, and then select the Scale to Fit Media check box. You may also be able to adjust the margin size of your printer.

Color Management Choices

When printing, you have to keep color management in mind. This process determines how color accuracy is maintained.

Color Management by Software

In the color management by software workflow, Photoshop does all the color conversion. This method works best when you have a custom ICC profile for each printer, ink, and paper combination. This method is more commonly used in professional printing environments when working with high-end devices that have been professionally calibrated.

Color Management by Printer

The color management by printer workflow approach lets the printer hardware handle the color conversion. Instead of performing the color management, Photoshop sends all the necessary details to the printer. This method is the best method when printing to inkjet photo printers because each combination of paper, printing resolution, and additional printing parameters requires a different profile. Using this option is generally best, but it does require you to set printing options and turn on color management in the printer driver.

If you’re working with a PostScript printer, you can harness powerful options. PostScript color management allows for color separations and complex color management.

Print One Copy

If you are in a rush and don’t need to make any additional changes in the Print dialog box, you can print one copy with your current settings. Choose the Print One Copy command (File > Print One Copy) to output a single print using the latest settings you have loaded.

Printing Vector Data

If your Photoshop document contains vector data (such as a shape or type), you will want to send that data to a PostScript printer. When you choose to send vector data, Photoshop prints a separate image for each vector layer, which can make for much crisper printing. These images are composited together in the printer. The vector graphics will print at the printer’s maximum resolution, which is a good option for type or vector logos.

1. Choose File > Print.

2. Choose Output from the menu (it’s in the same menu as Color Management).

3. Under Functions, select the Include Vector Data option.


About Richard Harrington (43 Articles)
A certified instructor for Adobe and Apple, Rich is a practiced expert in motion graphic design and digital video. Rich is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals Instructor Dream Team, and a popular speaker on the digital video circuit. Rich is an internationally published author. His book, Photoshop for Video, was the first of its kind to focus on Photoshop’s application in the world of video. He is also a contributing author for Apple’s Aperture, iLife ’09 and iWork ’09, Video Made on a Mac, and Producing Video Podcasts. If you want even more Photoshop training, check out his book Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS4. If you have an iPod touch or iPhone, you can get <a href="http://tinyurl.com/upapps">Rich’s Training in your Pocket</a>

1 Comment on Printing Commands in Photoshop

  1. great tutorial highly detail oriented and easy to follow

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