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How printer software works

The final and most important barrier to cross is the printer software, which controls how ink is placed onto your paper.

Choose Color Handling

There are two methods of converting colored pixels into ink droplets to spray on paper: using the standard printer driver software or using specially made paper profiles (see pages 74–75). To use the printer software, you must ensure that the Color Handling option is set to Printer Manages Colors, as shown left.

What the driver does

Printer driver dialogs all contain the same kinds of settings and are designed to help you get the very best out of your ink and paper media. The most important drop-down menu, shown left, contains submenus for controlling print quality and color accuracy.

Most mistakes are made here!

The decisions that you make in the printer software have more of an impact on the quality of your final print than the editing steps you’ve made in Photoshop Elements.

Tell the driver the directions

The Media Type drop-down menu contains the most important controls in the dialog. Here are displayed several “recipe” settings that determine the quantity and size of ink droplets to place on your paper. For an absorbent uncoated paper such as Plain Paper, the setting tells the print head to spray big ink drops far apart on the paper so they don’t merge together. For a quality paper, such as Archival Matte, the setting makes the print head spray the finest dots very close to each other, because the dots won’t spread on the paper. It’s essential to match your paper surface type to one of these settings.

Color management controls

In the Color Management drop-down menu are several controls for adjusting the appearance of the print. The Advanced Settings panel includes six sliders for controlling color and contrast (more on these on pages 72–73). Each time you change a setting, the resulting print will turn out differently, so it’s important at this stage to move as few controls as possible, or it will be impossible to know which one has caused the problem!

Get the latest printer driver

No matter how old your inkjet printer is, it’s well worth checking if its printer driver has been updated. A driver is the piece of software that controls the physical heads in a printer, and most printer manufacturers update their drivers to improve print quality, to work better with new operating systems (like Windows Vista), and to provide settings for printing with new types of paper. The drivers are always free and quick to download from the Internet.

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