Print color profiling targets with no color management

Adobe Color Printing Utility 1.0

Adobe Color Printer Utility 1.0 released

If you print color target images because you build printer profiles, and you’ve been frustrated that the No Color Management option is missing from the Print dialog box in Adobe Photoshop CS5, you can breathe a little easier now. No, make that a lot easier. Adobe has released the Adobe Color Printer Utility, specifically designed to print RGB TIFF color profiling targets without the risk of having the test swatch colors distorted by a color management system.

You may have read about this issue in my book Real World Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers, in the sidebar “What happened to No Color Management?” (page 97)

If you’ve relied on the No Color Management option in the Print dialog to print profiling targets for your output device, you’re probably wondering where this option went in Photoshop CS5. The quick answer is, it’s gone. Increasingly, the printing code in Mac OS X and Windows has been designed to use color management at all times, and also the exact implementation of the print code continues to change. If you depended on this option, don’t despair: Adobe has chosen to bring the “no color management” option outside of Photoshop (making it much easier to update) by building a free utility for printing profiling targets…

As the book went to press, Adobe had announced they were working on this utility but it was unclear when it would actually become available. Now that they’ve released Adobe Color Printer Utility, the Adobe tech note referenced in the book has been updated with links to the Mac OS X and Windows versions of the utility. Here’s the link to the tech note and download:

The system requirements are also on that page.

There isn’t much to the utility itself; the most important commands are Open and Print. All the magic is in the printing code, which presumably burrows its way directly to the printer, bypassing the printing color management code of the OS so that you get a pure reading of how the printer reproduces color.

It was a bit of a wait for those who needed this tool, but there are definite advantages to printing profiling targets from a utility instead of from within Photoshop. Adobe and its users no longer have to watch the No Color Management option break when Apple and Microsoft update their printing code, and you no longer have to pay for Photoshop just to be able to reliably print a color profiling target. Now you can just use a free utility that Adobe can update more quickly and independently.

There are no targets included with Adobe Color Printer Utility. The RGB target you see in the screen shot above was downloaded from the Luminous Landscape website (

Special notes

Adobe Color Printer Utility is intended only for printing color management target files when profiling a printer through RGB-based driver software—usually an inkjet printer, and not when printing CMYK through a PostScript RIP. Adobe Color Printer Utility isn’t intended for printing CMYK-mode profiling targets. The issues it addresses don’t exist for a PostScript-based CMYK workflow, such as a prepress workflow. You’ll probably find that printing CMYK-mode targets from ACPU doesn’t work when you output through RGB-based printer drivers.

Also, do not use Adobe Color Printer Utility for normal print jobs. (Yes, the name is a little misleading.) It’s only useful when you’re profiling a printer.


  1. When I try to print a CMYK test chart (IT8_7.3_CMYK_iO_5.0.7.tif) with Adobe’s new print utility both the preview and the print itself turns out blank. For RGB print targets the prints turn out as expected. I’ve not been able to find any information regarding this issue online.

    Do I read out of this article that CMYK target printing works for the CMYK target mentioned?

    1. I talked to some color people, including one from Adobe, and it turns out that because the utility was specifically designed to get around issues with RGB print workflows in Mac OS X and Windows, it isn’t intended for use with CMYK targets. There’s nothing in the ACPU release notes about this, so I updated this post. Also, I updated the screen shot at the beginning of this post, because for the original illustration I had opened a CMYK target (without printing it, which is how I didn’t realize it was a problem).

      I apologize to anyone who may have been misled by the original illustration. The new screen shot is of an RGB target.

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