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ICC Profiles and Printers in Mac OSX

SmartNote: 1017
Type: TechTip
ColorGeek factor:
As ColorSync is now ingrained at a much deeper level in the Mac OS than in previous versions, it follows that printing is affected by these changes. This is a very quick overview of how printing with RGB-based drivers (most inkjet printers used without a RIP) is setup and can be changed in OS X.

  • ICC profiles can now be stored in the printer driver packages themselves. The driver registers the profiles with OS X when it is initially activated and they become available to the system.
  • The setup of profiles and media settings is managed by XML files in some drivers, allowing some exploration into driver functionality when different media settings are selected by the user.
  • Apple's updated ColorSync utility shows the profiles in registered drivers and also allows the substitution of user profiles for the manufacturer's stock profiles. This avoids editing the XML files mentioned above. However, the creation of custom profiles by the user is constrained somewhat as noted below.
  • The substitution of profiles is implemented in an intelligent way so as to allow the user to easily remove their custom profile and default back to the original stock profile.
  • There does not appear to be a print path that allows the complete shut-off of all color management transforms. This is a necessary state for the proper printing of the profiling targets used when creating custom profiles. This does not mean that printers cannot be profiled, but any profiling will have to be on top of whatever color management is happening in the drivers. These profiles would be usable upstream of the drivers - such as by Photoshop 6.x - but will probably not be usable for substituting the stock printer profiles as mentioned above

Check back with us often for updates to Mac OS X color management and other topic areas.

See Also

TechTip: ColorSync on Mac OSX
WebSite: Apple ColorSync on Mac OSX Technote 2035