What is a Profile?
A color profile describes the colors reproduced by a device, such as a camera, a scanner, a monitor, an inkjet printer, and a printing press.
Profiles can be used, but not opened. They are like tags of information that can ride along with a file. Depending on preferences within certain applications, they can be ignored or implemented according to color management settings.
When used in conjunction with a well calibrated monitor and ICC compliant applications, profiles can also help us get a better idea of how layout and image files will print.
Placement of Profiles
Adobe Photoshop (and other icc-compliant applications) can use profiles. Place our profiles into the appropriate folder according to your operating system as listed below.
- Mac OS 9.x or earlier – Hard Drive / System Folder / ColorSync Profiles
- Mac OS X or later – Hard Drive / Library / ColorSync / Profiles
In Windows, you can right-click on a profile in any location to get a menu containing an option to “Install Profile,” which will place it in the appropriate directory. Below is a list of the typical paths for different versions of Windows.
- Win98, Win98SE, WinME: C: \ Windows \ System \ Color
- Win2000: C: \ WinNT \ System32 \ Spool \ Drivers \ Color
- WinXP: C: \ Windows \ System32 \ Spool \ Drivers \ Color
- Win NT: C: \ WinNT \ System32 \ Color
Notes: The location for profiles under Windows NT is just for reference. Windows NT has no built-in color management. Any color management is done entirely by applications.
We update our press profiles at least twice a year. Be sure to download our most recent press profiles before submitting a job.
Embedding Profiles or Tagging Images
If an image file does not have a profile, or in other words, if a profile was not embedded when the image file was saved, it would be considered “untagged.”
When you embed a profile into an image file, everyone can recognize your file as being prepared in a certain color space. Your image file can then be color managed, which means you will have a better chance of getting what you’re expecting from your printer. If your image file is not tagged, others would either have to guess when attempting color management, or not color manage your file at all, which is usually the case.
The screen capture below shows you one way to check if an image file has an embedded profile. In this scenario, it does not have an embedded profile so the document’s profile is labeled “Untagged CMYK.”
The above screen capture is of the lower portion of an image file opened in Photoshop on a MAC computer. By clicking on the black triangle to the right of the information window, you can view a document’s profile. If a profile is not embedded, it will be considered untagged.
To view same information on a PC using an older version of Photoshop, from the Window menu, select Status Bar, and instead of looking at the bottom of the image window, the information will be at the bottom of the application window.
Converting to Profiles in Photoshop
In Photoshop 6, 7, or CS, go to: Image/Mode/Convert to Profile
In CS2 or later, go to Edit/Convert to Profile
A dialog will open like this:
The Source Space is either the original color space of the image you want to convert, or (if the image is untagged), the current working space loaded in Photoshop’s Color Settings.
The Destination Space is selected from the drop-down menu. Choose the appropriate profile for your printer (your desktop inkjet, Modern Postcard, or another device).
The Conversion Options should be set as they appear in the above screen capture.
Clicking OK will convert the document to the new color space. The color values in the file will change to accommodate the new color space, but the file’s appearance should remain the same.
Converting from one type of CMYK to another usually renders good results. If preparing files in an RGB color space, convert directly to your printer’s press profile.
Embedding Profiles in Photoshop
There are two ways to embed a profile. One method is automatic and is controlled in Photoshop’s “Color Settings” dialogue by choosing “Preserve Embedded Profile.” When you save an image file that either has a profile assigned to it or was converted to a profile, that profile will be embedded.
The Color Settings dialogue is located under the menu headers Photoshop, File, or Edit depending upon your operating system (Windows XP, Mac OSX, OS 9, etc.), and version of Photoshop).
Another option, which will override the Color Settings dialogue, is when you use the Save As function and check the appropriate radio button like this:
Assigning Profiles in Photoshop
Assigning a profile is nothing more than viewing an image file as it would appear on another device. Color values within the image file will not change, but its appearance will.
For example: If you are viewing an image file that has the embedded profile of SWOP (U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2) and assign it our profile (MP_CMYK . . .), you would notice some colors shifting. This is normal because every CMYK profile is designed for a specific device.
In Photoshop 6, 7, or CS go to Image/Mode/Assign Profile
In Photoshop CS2 or later go to Edit/Assign Profile
By assigning a profile you will see how your image will print if you don’t convert it to the press profile of your printer. Note: You can only assign profiles that are from the same color mode (RGB, CMYK, Grayscale) as the image.
Need more help?
Find detailed information about setting up your files.
Digital Camera Media
Duplicate List Records
Help us achieve correct color
ICC Printer Profiles
Mailing List Formats & Specifications
Screen and Print Resolution
Setting Color Modes
Setting Grayscale Mode
Standard Font Set