Do I have an RGB or CMYK printer?

First, all offset lithographic presses are CMYK. Some of the new breed of digital presses and your desktop printers are either RGB or CMYK.

The color mode of your printer is determined by the printer's driver or controller, not necessarily by the number of inks used to print. For example, most inkjet photo printers use six or more inks but are considered RGB because the printer's driver expects RGB data. If it receives anything else, it first converts it to RGB before converting to the printer's native space.

Follow the easy instructions below to answer the question, is this printer RGB or CMYK?

  • Open a graphics application from which you can print. Make sure the program supports printing without color management, such as Adobe Photoshop.


  • Download this graphic image. It is a CMYK Black channel grayscale ramp with no profile associated with it.


  • In the graphics program, make sure this image is not color managed. That is, do not assign a working space profile, nor any other profile. This image is to remain untagged CMYK.


  • Print the image, making sure the graphics program does not assign an output profile. No color management is used to print this image.


  • Examine the printers output. If you have a printer with a CMYK driver, this gray ramp will print with the black ink only and will appear neutral. No color will be printed. If the gray ramp contains any color ink, you have a printer with an RGB driver.