Printer Manages Colors vs Photoshop Managed Colors

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Updated November 11, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best printer, you want accurate color prints from your machine. Color management ensures that your photos match the results of a typical computer monitor or digital imaging system. That said, many users are confused about printer-managed color vs Photoshop-managed color. Moreover, if you’re using the best printer for photographers, you’d be surprised at how much you do need color management to get the best print results.


  • Printer-managed colors are easy to use but aren’t as detailed as Photoshop options.
  • Colors managed by Photoshop are more challenging to use. Still, they offer enhanced modes to match your screen to your printed materials.
  • Photography professionals making commercial pamphlets prints should use Photoshop-managed colors.

For example, for your output device to match the range of colors on your LCD monitor, you need to use color management options. So, you can rely on Adobe Photoshop to adjust your printer’s color profile or the color management settings.

While not all printers have such settings, many of the best duplex printers and high-end 11×17 printers will have color adjustment settings.

Read on to see which color adjustment is correct for you.

Comparing Printer Color Management and Photoshop-Managed Colors

Color management systems control the color conversion between your monitor image colors and the actual colors you’ll get on different paper types. In addition, you’ll get a generic print that will not match the color spaces or wider gamut of your digital image without color settings.

Insider Tip

Before editing photos, ensure that your computer monitor is calibrated correctly. If not, your prints won’t look natural.

While your printer profile is paramount to a great image, you should compare a laser and an inkjet printer to ensure you have the best output profile possible.

Quality Print Output

Depending on your color calibration and printing conditions, you can reproduce fantastic prints with either color management function. That said, the way photoshop manages colors vs a printer is much more natural and nuanced than the basic options from your printer driver. While neither printing method produces blurry images, you might get out-of-gamut colors with the essential printer software.

That said, you should understand the difference between printer drums and toner to keep from getting diminished results from your printer.

Color Controls

Another area in which photoshop excels is with color controls. While printer driver options offer simple RGB rules, Photoshop-managed color provides tints for the entire color space. In addition, Photoshop delivers a color-matching module for accurate prints.

Ease of Use

Both color management options are simple but in different ways. For example, when a printer manages color, ease comes from a small selection of options. In contrast, the many options available make it easy to adjust your images in Photoshop. In addition, there are automatic color-matching tools in Photoshop. And, you can save on ink when you control the color options, especially if you’re using an Epson Ecotank 4700 or 4760.

And, if you’re having printer problems, check out our info guide to figuring out why your printer won’t scan.


As your printer ink wears out, your print quality will diminish. If you are a printing professional, change your ink or toner as soon as your images start to fade.


What should my Photoshop color settings be?

Most experts recommend using Adobe RGB or sRGB rather than relying on your actual monitor colorspace. In addition, you should use Adobe RGB for printing, while the sRGB color range is best for the web.

Which color mode is best for printing?

Regardless of your paper combination, RGB output profiles are the best print setting if you want a natural image. Input devices like digital cameras and scanners use the RGB color gamut to break pictures into red, blue, and green. This makes your entire image more accessible to calibrate via printer or Photoshop software.

What are the 4 components of color management?

The PCS (Profile connection space, usually CIELAB), the device Profile, a CMM (color management module), and Rendering Intent are the four components of a color management system.

STAT: According to IDC Forecasts, more than 6 million pages, even to fill 54 football fields, were printed every minute globally in 2019. COVID-19 is expected to remove print volume that would fill seven football fields every minute in 2020. (source)

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