Windows Color Management of Print Drivers?


Well-known member

(Please see the attached pictures for reference...)

I've noticed, but never dwelt on, the idea of using the Color Management tab of a print driver's Properties window to set custom CMYK and RGB ICC profiles... until yesterday.


When one faces a smaller digital printer without a serious DFE, one could have the idea of profiling the device and using that Color Management tab to assign profiles.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?


You could, in theory, have the printer profiled for a number of stocks and enable non Adobe users to use the correct profile.
This spawns out of a practical need I'm facing at the moment, thus why I'm here after a few hours of research, and failure.

So, in this Color Management tab, I've set an RGB profile (ProPhoto RGB ~ just to easily see the difference / if its working or not) and a CMYK profile. The CMYK profile, as attached here, is on crack cocaine intentionally: I need to easily see if the profile is used or not.


When printing from Acrobat with the print driver that has those two unusual ICC profile attached to it, I see in the results (see before.png and after.png files attached herein) indicate that though my pdf contains a tiff image, the ProPhoto RGB profile seems to have been used to convert colors... as if Windows first converts everything to RGB and then use whatever RGB profile is available.

Without any profiles attached to the color management tab of the print driver:


With the profiles attached:

Is this normal expected behaviour? Would anyone have a good reference on how color management works in Windows?

Thank you for your time, and a pleasant weekend to all.



  • photo8181.png
    1.1 MB · Views: 172
  • attach280650.png
    1.1 MB · Views: 178
Last edited:

Dov Isaacs

Well-known member
The general response to this question is to avoid any Microsoft Windows color management in print drivers. In general, it never really worked, especially with PostScript printers. Their color management was for raster images only and sometimes.

If you are printing from Adobe Acrobat/Reader to a PostScript printer, the whole driver color management tab is totally ignored anyway. Acrobat/Reader performs color management while generating PostScript, generating DeviceCMYK for the printing.

InDesign and Illustrator perform similarly, although in general, we recommend exporting/saving PDF/X-4 from those applications and printing the PDF from Acrobat/Reader.

Photoshop generates its own PostScript (either DeviceCMYK, DeviceRGB, or color-managed PostScript which we do not recommend). For other PDLs, Photoshop goes through the Windows drivers.

For Adobe applications printing to non-PostScript (or direct PDF) printers or for any printing from non-PostScript-centric applications (such as Microsoft Office and other enterprise applications), depending upon the driver, the Windows color management may actually be totally ignored/overridden by the printer manufacturer's own “secret sauce” color mangement baked into their proprietary drivers. This is especially true for inkjet printers which often have more inks than simply CMYK.

Bottom line is to forget the Microsoft color management. Turn it off and avoid problems.

- Dov

PS: Apple's color management for printing isn't really significantly if at all better.


Well-known member
Mr. Isaacs, you break my heart!

I had a nagging suspicion that this stuff wasn't on the internet because it just didn't work.
Thank you very much for sharing. I will sigh... and take your advice to the bank.

Have a good evening,

What About Profitability?

What about Profitability?
Offset yields new advantages

Read All About It