All printers come with software for producing prints. This bundled software always includes the printer driver and often adds editing application. An online instruction manual is sometimes provided. The functionality of the software usually reflects the price and complexity of the printer, with entry-level printers providing very simple editors.


All printers come with software for producing prints. This bundled software always includes the printer driver and often adds editing application. An online instruction manual is sometimes provided. The functionality of the software usually reflects the price and complexity of the printer, with entry-level printers providing very simple editors.

In this article, we’ll look at what the printer driver does and how you can get the most out of the bundled software.

The Printer Driver
Printer drivers are software applications that enable the computer to translate the data to be printed into a form that can be used by the printer. Each printer has its own specific driver, which is supplied on the software disk and automatically loaded into the computer when you run the disk as part of setting up the printer. Drivers are usually specific to the computer’s operating system and your computer will automatically recognise and upload the appropriate driver when the software disk is inserted.

If you mislay the CD that came with your printer and need to re-load the driver for a particular printer (for example, when you replace a computer), you can usually download the necessary driver from the website of the manufacturer of your printer. You may also require a new driver when you upgrade your computer’s operating system. Drivers are usually found on the Support page.

Printers also contain ‘profiles’ (or mathematical descriptions) of each type of paper that can be used with that printer, usually only for papers carrying the manufacturer’s brand. These ‘canned’ profiles set the printer’s operating parameters to match the requirements of the selected paper, giving the user the best possible chance of making colour-accurate photo prints. Selecting ‘Print’ when you have a digital photo open in an image editor normally takes you to the main page of printer driver. Start by checking that the correct printer has been selected. Then click on the Preferences button. This opens the driver interface.


Driver interfaces differ with each printer, although each printer manufacturer has its own characteristic style for presenting the adjustable settings to users. In most cases, there are three sections (or ‘pages’). The Main page covers output quality settings, paper (or media) parameter settings (size, type, orientation and source) and any editing adjustments or enhancements the driver provides.

Select the paper you will be printing on from the dropdown Paper Options box. This applies the built-in profile and ensures the colour management system will adjust the printer to produce the correct colours in the print.

You can also adjust the paper size and orientation to match the paper and image you are printing and choose whether to print with a white border or create a borderless print that completely covers the paper. The printer should warn you if part of the image will be cut off when borderless printing is selected.

Many drivers contain an ‘Advanced’ button (circled in red next page) that opens a sub-menu providing adjustments for colours, brightness and saturation. Pay attention to the Colour Management dialog box in the upper right hand section of the Advanced driver page as this can be crucial for accurate colour rendition.


A typical driver Main page.

If the Colour Controls button is checked, a bank of slider adjustments covering brightness, contrast, saturation and the three primary colours allows you to tweak these settings before printing. Unfortunately, no live preview is provided so it’s easy to over- or under-correct. (These adjustments are best carried out in editing software.)


Checking the Photo Enhance button optimises the printer for different image types. In some printers, the Photo Enhance mode provides settings for printing photographs of people, nature, soft focus and sepia. In others, there’s an automatic setting that covers most image types. Some printers also provide settings for fine-tuning tones when making black-and-white prints.


The final button is labelled ‘ICM’. This accesses the Image Colour Management settings from the computer operating system. Using this option requires you to set ICC profiles in both the image editor and the printer. The default profile set by the printer driver is circled in red in the illustration below.


If you’re printing from software that supports ICC profiles, you can use this mode to match the printer’s output colours to the colour profile set in the software. However, you must set up the dialog box in the software to let the software control colour management (NOT the printer). You should then check the Off (No Colour Adjustment) box to prevent conflict between the printer’s built-in profiles and the software.

You may also see a Digital Camera Correction check box, which enables Epson’s PRINT Image Matching for files from cameras that support this technology (most do). Checking this box applies automatic corrections to colours that will result in clearer blues and greens in scenic shots and more accurate skin tones. Sharpening may also be improved.


The Colour Management settings in Photoshop.

Checking the Smooth Skin box automatically subdues minor blemishes like wrinkles, lines and spots. Unfortunately, most printers don’t provide any control over the degree of correction so you have to accept the adjustments the printer makes or leave the box unchecked. Some recently-released printers – particularly models targeted at photo enthusiasts and professional photographers – also provide a status window that enables users to check the current settings.


Automatic adjustments provided in the Photo Enhance mode for improving output quality. Note: no fine-tuning is provided for these adjustments.

The second page of the printer driver usually carries page layout settings. These can include paper orientation (Portrait or Landscape), rotation and mirror-image settings, border adjustments and duplexing (double-sided printing) if it is supported.

Users can also select from the range of paper sizes the printer supports and choose between sheet and roll feed (if the printer supports both).


A typical Page Layout interface.

The final page usually covers maintenance items like head cleaning, nozzle checking and print head alignment. It may also carry buttons for monitoring the speed and progress of a print job, checking printer status and saving, exporting and importing customised groups of settings. The ink status monitor may also be displayed via this page.


The Utility page of a recently-released photo enthusiasts’ printer.

Colour Controls in the Printer Driver
Some more sophisticated printers include a range of ‘Advanced’ settings that give photographers more control over the printing process. To use them effectively, it’s important to understand how they work. The extent of the adjustments may depend on the editing software you use and the colour management settings you apply in both the software and the printer driver.


If you’re printing from Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, make sure you select the appropriate paper profile and set Colour Handling to Photoshop Manages Colours. In the printer driver, set the Mode to Custom then check No Colour Adjustment.

The Colour settings are used to tweak brightness, contrast or saturation levels, if required. Some drivers let you choose between slider and colour circle adjustments and a few will provide a small preview screen to show the effect of changes. (Note: it’s better to make these adjustments in editing software because more precise settings can be achieved and the visual feedback better reflects the changes you have made.)

Epson’s professional and enthusiast printers include an Advanced B&W Photo setting for finetuning colours, brightness, contrast and tonality before prints are made. Before and After views show the effects of any adjustments.


Epson’s Advanced B&W Photo driver provides a wide range of adjustments for tweaking image settings and adding subtle colour tones to monochrome prints.
Special Printing Options
If you’re only interested in small prints (up to A5 size), you can save time and paper by making a ‘package print’ in which two or more images are printed on a single sheet of paper. Almost all printers support this option, usually through bundled software.


The ‘Borderless (2)’ layout option in Epson’s Easy Photo Print.


Producing test prints.
The process is straightforward; you simply select the pictures you wish to print then move on and choose the paper you will print them on. The final step is the Layout control, where you can print the selected images, with two, four, eight or 16 images per sheet of paper. (You can also print an index of thumbnails showing 20 images at a time with brief file data.)


Some bundled software applications let you produce ‘test prints’ showing variations in two or more factors. You simply select the image, choose paper and layout then select Sample Print. This displays the image with a superimposed rectangle that indicates the area to be sampled. You can move the sampling area by clicking on the rectangle.


In this sample print, two parameters – Brightness and Contrast – have been sampled.

Choose whether you wish to use the entire strip as the basis of sampling or capture more samples at a smaller sample size. Then set the sampling parameters using the dropdown menu.


The above illustration shows the result of sampling for one parameter: Brightness.
Clicking on the Preview button shows a preview of the sample adjustments. You can save the result for testing different types of paper with your printer.

Visit the following websites for free software downloads and/or additional information on the topic covered in this chapter: for articles on digital printing and printer reviews. for information on how to calibrate your monitor with Adobe Gamma. and for useful information on inkjet printing for photo enthusiasts. for an in-depth tutorial on colour management.
This is an excerpt from Post Capture Pocket Guide.
Click here for more details on this and other titles in the Pocket Guide series.


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