How to print a pure CMYK colors in a regular printer? Let's say I would like to print a pure cyan or a pure magenta in a regular printer. first I work in a CMYK document .. but when sending the file to the printer it mix the colors and I didn't get any pure cyan or magenta. That's because of the printer driver which uses an RGB profile -most probably.

What I need is to print from my CMYK document a pure cyan or a pure magenta only.

How to do that in Photoshop or Illustrator? and what color profile is suitable for that?

in another word... "is it possible to print from only one color cartridge whatever it is?

  • 1
    let's formulate my question in another simple one. "is it possible to print from only one color cartridge whatever it is?"
    – hsawires
    Feb 21, 2015 at 16:54
  • Hack and fill all cartridges with magenta ink... cannot guarantee the hardware will survive :-)
    – curious
    Sep 18, 2017 at 22:46

4 Answers 4


Your Inkjet printer has to support CYMK. Thus double check before you proceed. Otherwise colours are always converted to RGB. Also make sure that the latest printer drivers are installed.

You can export your Illustrator/photoshop file to a PDF file. This way you can open your document in Acrobat which offers advanced print settings like preview color separations. The Colour profile depends on the final medium e.g. coated, uncoated, newspaper... When you export your PDF make sure that you are using the same color profile e.g. sRGB or Adobe 1998.


Only works if you've a way to map a given single color from one profile to another

I faced the same issue and I wanted to print from one cartridge to just unclog a few nozzles without wasting ink from the other cartridges.

My printer ICC profile was Epson sRBG. I believe any print work would be first mapped on to this RBG profile first and then the printer would convert that to it's own CMYK internally to fire from respective cartridges.

First Trial: I tried printing a patch of color with RGB(255,0,255), thinking this should print perfect Magenta, but that was not the case.
Second Trial: Map CMYK(0,255,0,0) to Epson sRGB and print that patch of color. Almost there but not perfect yet. As obviously the CMYK profile I used was not the same as the printers and also I was using some cheap ink ;-)
Final Trial and Error: So I tried to get the perfect RBG combination so that it prints from Magenta cartridge only, with target around CMYK(0,255,0,0).

I tried this exercise using all the below CMYK profiles for my test print...
Generic CMYK

What worked for me was Generic CMYK with a bit of trial and error. I printed multiple patches. I created a simple spreadsheet that would create my patches around the colors I required. Printed all patches on same sheet to finally choose the one I needed by the eye. Here is the spreadsheet I used. Each color is fills 10 rows with details of the color mentioned. So I have like nine patches that gets to 90 rows to fill up a whole Letter/A4.

Also the way I went from one color profile to the other was by using the Color Sync Utility app on Mac. I'm sure there is a similar utility on windows for the same.enter image description here

Let me know if you've a similar convertor utility for Windows, I will added it to the answer.

Cheers and happy printing!


I also tackled a very similar problem. I was not getting pure Cyan output from my Epson WF-7520, even though it has CMYK cartridges because the printer was converting the CMYK source document to RGB before printout.

I was able to obtain a reasonably clean Cyan after converting the source document to RGB and setting the color to 'pure cyan' in RGB values, which apparently is R=0, G=255, B=255.

Here's the link to the complete Question/Answer thread.

  • 1
    While the link may answer the question please disclose what the link is about. Answers should be able to live without relying on external sources. Please make an edit with further detail.
    – user9447
    Dec 22, 2016 at 19:39
  • This might be helpful: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/268421/…
    – user9447
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:08
  • I find this confusing. The link I posted is another question/answer thread on Stackexchange. The posted link above to the 'thorough answer' thread seems to fulfill the same function. My intention was to avoid reposting the answer content from the linked question in this one as it seemed a redundant duplication of content. However, as I'm still learning the ropes here, I am rewriting the post to describe the solution I found.
    – Geoff
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:49
  • no the link you provided is to the Adobe forums and we have no relation with them. Regardless if the Q&A originated from here the answer should be able to exist without relying on an external source to prevent link rot.
    – user9447
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:52
  • Sorry. I realize I posted the wrong link. Corrected.
    – Geoff
    Dec 22, 2016 at 20:55

The problem for many folks is that most printer makers distribute Windows drivers that enforce an RGB abstraction. E.g. even if your document is CMYK color space, the Windows print driver will convert it to RGB and then back to CMYK before printing (yes, a double color-space transformation.. its awful). This means even if you make a document with pure Magenta, it will end up as some multiple-color mix after the double color transformation -- it will NOT be pure magenta when it goes to the printer.

I have an Epson ET-2720 with this problem. I think all of the current line of Epson inkjet drivers will have this problem. The only way I found to fix it was to print on Linux instead of Windows.

SOLUTION: I hooked my printer up to Ubuntu. Initially I tried using FOSS printer drivers but wasn't having success. I installed TurboPrint (propietary drivers) and used the CMYK Proof color mode. This produced exact color reproduction. Pure yellow actually prints pure yellow ink with no other colors in it. Pure magenta prints pure magenta ink.

If you want to go the FOSS drivers route (instead of TurboPrint), you'll have to mess with color profile configuration. It can be accomplished but its a lot more frustrating than just buying TurboPrint.

  • If you have postscript drivers to windows it works more often than not.
    – joojaa
    Jan 19, 2022 at 18:38
  • I remember investigating Postscript drivers, but I couldn't find anything available from Epson for the EcoTank printers. Are there some generic postscript drivers for Windows somewhere that would work with Epson EcoTank?
    – JamesHoux
    Jan 20, 2022 at 3:21
  • postscript is a premium feature of the printer that guarantees better acces to the printer internals.
    – joojaa
    Jan 20, 2022 at 5:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.