Understanding Print in Photoshop

A tutorial for Adobe Photoshop's Print

Computer monitor and printer.

 Clker / Pixabay

Adobe Photoshop is the standard for graphic editing and photo retouching. This also means that the number of options and functions it has might overwhelm the user. Photoshop's Print (Print Preview has been combined with Print) is one of those. Photoshop gives you total control over the print options of your graphics, but knowing what they all mean can be a task, even for the experienced user.

This is a quick rundown of the Print function of Photoshop. While it is not a complete guide, it will satisfy the most common needs for the non-designer or the in-house designer. While this article is not meant to explain the Print Preview in all of its details, it will shed light on the most important ones.

Instructions in this article apply to Adobe Photoshop CC 2019.

As of Photoshop CS5, the Print Preview function has been combined with the Print function.

Getting Familiar with the Photoshop Print Window

Screenshot of Photoshop Print dialog.

To access the Print (and preview) window go to File > Print (Or File > Print with Preview in older versions of Photoshop. Or Ctrl + P on your keyboard.). With the Print dialog you not only see how your document will print, but you can also change page settings and so on.

Photoshop Print: Printer Setup

Screenshot of the Printer settings in Photoshop.

Let's explore the Print window. On the top left, you, of course, see the preview of your document. Next to the Preview, you see the Printer Setup section. Here, you select which Printer you want to print to, how many Copies you want to print, the Layout of your image, and additional Print settings. This section is obviously if you’re ready to print but if you want to see more of the old Preview settings, just scroll down.

Photoshop Print: Color Management

Before we get into the Color Management options, it is necessary to understand what color management solves. Colors in a graphic don't look on my monitor the same way they do on yours. On my monitor colors might look more blue, maybe darker, while on your monitor colors might look more red.

This is normal. Even among monitors of the same brand colors will look different. This is the same also when printing graphics. One printer will differ from the other, even if they are of the same brand. One ink will differ from the other and one type of paper will differ from the other.

Color Management helps you to make sure that colors look the same when viewed on or printed from different devices. Usually, you can "record" your color settings in files called color profiles which you can give to the person who will receive your graphic, so he/she can view it or print it with the correct colors.

Screenshot of Photoshop Print dialog.

When you choose Color Management in the Print window, you will see several options under it, the Color Handling, Printer Profile, type of print, and Rendering Intent.

The Color Handling allows you to set what handles the colors in your image. The three options available are Photoshop Manages Colors, Printer Manages Colors, and Separations.

Color Handling in Photoshop.

The Printer Profile contains a large list of different color profiles, some of which are based on specialized paper types and the various versions of RGB.

Color handling in different formats in Photoshop.

The next field contains settings for the kind o printing you want to do. You can either choose Normal Printing or Hard Proofing for mockups. When Normal Printing is selected, Photoshop will print your graphic using the current color settings--either the printer settings or Photoshop's settings.

Whether that be the first or the latter, it is determined by what choice you make in the Color Handling drop-down menu, where you can choose Printer Manages Colors, Photoshop Manages Colors, or Separations.

If Hard Proofing is selected, Photoshop will emulate the type of color environment you chose from the proof pull-down menu. Professional print firms will use their own custom color profiles to print out proofs.

Screenshot of the two types of printing in Photoshop.

Rendering Intent has several options to set the method of color translation. There are the following translation methods: Perceptual, Saturation, Resolve Colormetric, and Absolute Colormetric. Each color translation has an appropriate use for each type of image. So, if you have a photograph, you may want to try Perceptual, or if you have a logo, you might select Saturation. If you aren’t certain, the Description of each Rendering Intent will give you some hints.

Screenshot of the different rendering intents in Photoshop.

Photoshop Print: Description

While this may seem obvious, Description will give your further details of what each feature and setting in the Print dialog screen. You have may to select the arrow to expand this handy option, but it will certainly help you wade through and explain any settings you need to know more about.

Photoshop Print: Position and Size

The Position determines where the image will print on the selected paper. You can either select Center to move the image to the middle of the page, or manually adjust the Top and Left margins of where you want the image to print.

Screenshot of the position and size settings in Photoshop.

The Scaled Print Size pane does act on the size of your graphic. You can change the size of your graphic by typing a percentage in the Scale field or by typing a value either in the Height or Width field. Changing value in either field will change the value of the other one proportionally.

If the Show Paper White option is checked (located under the preview), Photoshop will show the boundaries of your graphic. The bounding box will not be printed with the image, it only shows up in the preview. It allows you to change the size of your graphic by dragging the mouse from it either inwards (to reduce the size) or outwards (to increase the size).

Next is the Print Selected Area option. If it is grayed out, you first need to make a selection then you can open the Print window. The Print Selected Area option will then be available and if checked, Photoshop will only print the area inside your selection. You can also select the Units in which the Width and Height use.

Screenshot of the scaled print size settings in Photoshop.

Photoshop Print: Additional Options

Many of the remaining options pertain to professional printing. Under Printing Marks, depending on what options you choose (Corner Crop Marks, Center Crop Marks, Registration Marks, etc.) will determine what mark ups your image will have. You can also include a Description or Labels for your image printout.

Screenshot of the printing marks settings in Photoshop.

Under Functions, you have Emulsion Down, which flips the image horizontally and Negative (which creates an inverse image) checkboxes. Both settings are useful for professional printing. Additional settings include setting a Background, a Border, and Bleed.

Screenshot of the functions settings in Photoshop.

If you get to deal with these options at all, you will probably use the Background and the Border options. The background changes the background color your image will print on while the border will add a colored border around your image.

The next section is only applicable if you or the printing company you do business with uses a Postscript printer.Under Postscript Options (if available) you have Calibration Bars (for press calibration) and Interpolation (And Include Vector Data if your image is a vector graphic.)

Screenshot of the PostScript options settings in Photoshop.