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Color conversion and ink management (Acrobat Pro)

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Access Acrobat from desktop, mobile, web
    2. What's new in Acrobat
    3. Keyboard shortcuts
    4. System Requirements
  3. Workspace
    1. Workspace basics
    2. Opening and viewing PDFs
      1. Opening PDFs
      2. Navigating PDF pages
      3. Viewing PDF preferences
      4. Adjusting PDF views
      5. Enable thumbnail preview of PDFs
      6. Display PDF in browser
    3. Working with online storage accounts
      1. Access files from Box
      2. Access files from Dropbox
      3. Access files from OneDrive
      4. Access files from SharePoint
      5. Access files from Google Drive
    4. Acrobat and macOS
    5. Acrobat notifications
    6. Grids, guides, and measurements in PDFs
    7. Asian, Cyrillic, and right-to-left text in PDFs
  4. Creating PDFs
    1. Overview of PDF creation
    2. Create PDFs with Acrobat
    3. Create PDFs with PDFMaker
    4. Using the Adobe PDF printer
    5. Converting web pages to PDF
    6. Creating PDFs with Acrobat Distiller
    7. Adobe PDF conversion settings
    8. PDF fonts
  5. Editing PDFs
    1. Edit text in PDFs
    2. Edit images or objects in a PDF
    3. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    4. Edit scanned PDFs
    5. Enhance document photos captured using a mobile camera
    6. Optimizing PDFs
    7. PDF properties and metadata
    8. Links and attachments in PDFs
    9. PDF layers
    10. Page thumbnails and bookmarks in PDFs
    11. Action Wizard (Acrobat Pro)
    12. PDFs converted to web pages
    13. Setting up PDFs for a presentation
    14. PDF articles
    15. Geospatial PDFs
    16. Applying actions and scripts to PDFs
    17. Change the default font for adding text
    18. Delete pages from a PDF
  6. Scan and OCR
    1. Scan documents to PDF
    2. Enhance document photos
    3. Troubleshoot scanner issues when scanning using Acrobat
  7. Forms
    1. PDF forms basics
    2. Create a form from scratch in Acrobat
    3. Create and distribute PDF forms
    4. Fill in PDF forms
    5. PDF form field properties
    6. Fill and sign PDF forms
    7. Setting action buttons in PDF forms
    8. Publishing interactive PDF web forms
    9. PDF form field basics
    10. PDF barcode form fields
    11. Collect and manage PDF form data
    12. About forms tracker
    13. PDF forms help
    14. Send PDF forms to recipients using email or an internal server
  8. Combining files
    1. Combine or merge files into single PDF
    2. Rotate, move, delete, and renumber PDF pages
    3. Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
    4. Crop PDF pages
    5. Add watermarks to PDFs
    6. Add backgrounds to PDFs
    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
  9. Sharing, reviews, and commenting
    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
    4. Starting a PDF review
    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
    7. Add comments to PDFs
    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
    12. Tracking and managing PDF reviews
  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. Convert PDF to Word
    3. Convert PDF to JPG
    4. Convert or export PDFs to other file formats
    5. File format options for PDF export
    6. Reusing PDF content
  11. Security
    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
    3. Manage Digital IDs
    4. Securing PDFs with certificates
    5. Opening secured PDFs
    6. Removing sensitive content from PDFs
    7. Setting up security policies for PDFs
    8. Choosing a security method for PDFs
    9. Security warnings when a PDF opens
    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager
    11. Protected View feature for PDFs
    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks
    15. Allow or block links in PDFs
  12. Electronic signatures
    1. Sign PDF documents
    2. Capture your signature on mobile and use it everywhere
    3. Send documents for e-signatures
    4. About certificate signatures
    5. Certificate-based signatures
    6. Validating digital signatures
    7. Adobe Approved Trust List
    8. Manage trusted identities
  13. Printing
    1. Basic PDF printing tasks
    2. Print Booklets and PDF Portfolios
    3. Advanced PDF print settings
    4. Print to PDF
    5. Printing color PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    6. Printing PDFs in custom sizes
  14. Accessibility, tags, and reflow
    1. Create and verify PDF accessibility
    2. Accessibility features in PDFs
    3. Reading Order tool for PDFs
    4. Reading PDFs with reflow and accessibility features
    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview
    2. Printer marks and hairlines
    3. Previewing output
    4. Transparency flattening
    5. Color conversion and ink management
    6. Trapping color
  18. Preflight (Acrobat Pro)
    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files
    2. Preflight profiles
    3. Advanced preflight inspections
    4. Preflight reports
    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources
    6. Output intents in PDFs
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool
    11. Preflight libraries
    12. Preflight variables
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

Before you begin

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About color conversion

Colors must often be converted when they are displayed on a monitor or sent to a printer. Conversion is necessary when the color models do not match (for example, when CMYK color is displayed on an RGB monitor, or when a document with images in an RGB color space is sent to a printer).

Acrobat uses the source color spaces of objects in a PDF to determine what (if any) color conversion is required, for example, from RGB to CMYK. For images and objects that contain embedded color profiles, Acrobat uses the information in the profile to manage the appearance of the color. For files that comply with the PDF/X family of standards, the OutputIntent is used to manage the colors in the file. Unmanaged colors, however, do not use profiles, so a profile must be temporarily used for conversion. The Color Management panel of the Preferences dialog box provides profiles for converting unmanaged colors. You can also select specific profiles based on local press conditions.

Convert Colors dialog box overview

If you output your PDF to a high-end device or incorporate it in a prepress workflow, you can convert color objects to CMYK or another color space. Unlike other Acrobat features that temporarily convert colors during printing or viewing, the Convert Colors feature changes the color values in the document. In the Convert Colors dialog box, you can convert the colors of a single page or an entire document.


The Convert Colors dialog box converts all colors in the document or all colors for specified object types to the destination color space. To convert only the colors of a selected object, use the Edit Object tool.

Convert Colors dialog box
Convert Colors dialog box

A. Conversion Attributes B. Document Colors 

Open the Convert Colors dialog box

  1. Choose All tools > Use print production > Convert colours.

Convert colors to a different color space

Depending on the color spaces you select, color conversion preserves, converts, or maps (aliases) color values from the source color space to the destination space as follows:

  • Objects with untagged (Device) data are converted to the destination space using the working space profiles as the source. This conversion is applied to all untagged spaces, RGB, CMYK and grayscale, whether stand-alone or as alternate value for spot colors.

  • Objects in device-independent color spaces (CalGray, CalRGB, or Lab) can be preserved or converted. If converted, Acrobat uses the device-independent object information.

  • Objects set in spot colors can be preserved, converted, or mapped (aliased) to any other ink present in the document. Objects include Separation, DeviceN, and NChannel color spaces. Spot colors can also be mapped to a CMYK process color, if the process color model of the destination space is CMYK. Spot colors mapped to other inks can be previewed in the Output Preview dialog box.


If you want to convert specific spot plates, use Ink Manager in combination with the Convert Colors tool. To convert only specific spot plates to process, map them to process in Ink Manager. Otherwise, all spots in the document are converted to process if you have selected Spot Color as the color type.

Convert document colors

  1. In the Convert Colors dialog box, select a conversion command. If the list contains no existing commands, click Add to add the default conversion command.

  2. Select the conversion command that you want to edit, and then select an option from the Matching Criteria:

    Object Type

    Specifies if you want to convert the colors for all objects or for a specific type of object within the document.

    Color Type

    Specifies the color space of the objects to be converted.

    Text Size

    Specifies the minimum and maximum text size for text objects to be converted.

  3. Select one of the available convert commands:


    Keeps objects in the selected color space when the document is output.

    Convert To Profile

    Uses the destination space profile to convert color objects to a common ICC profile for an output device.


    Removes embedded profiles from the matching objects.

  4. Specify the conversion profile.
  5. Select the rendering intent to use for conversion. The default is Use Document Intent. If you select any of the other intents, the selected intent overrides the document intent for the conversion.
  6. Select Embed to embed the profile. Selecting Embed tags all objects with the selected conversion profile. As an example, a document can contain five objects: one in grayscale and two each in the RGB and CMYK color spaces. In this case, you can embed a separate color profile to calibrate the color for each color space, for a total of three profiles. This process is useful if your RIP performs color management of PDFs or if you are sharing PDFs with other users.

  7. Select Convert Colors To Output Intent and specify the output intent profile to be used instead of the document’s current output intent. An output intent describes the color reproduction characteristics of a possible output device or production environment in which the document is printed. This choice is not available if the document does not have an output intent. (PDFs that don't comply with standards, such as PDF/X or PDf/A, often lack an output intent.)
  8. Specify the pages to convert.
  9. Select any additional conversion options:

    Preserve Black

    Preserves any black objects drawn in CMYK, RGB, or grayscale during conversion. This option prevents text in RGB black from being converted to rich black when converted to CMYK.

    Promote Gray To CMYK Black

    Converts device gray to CMYK.

    Preserve CMYK Primaries

    When transforming colors to prepare CMYK documents for a different target print profile, preserves primaries. For colors with just one colorant, Acrobat uses that colorant. For colors with more than one colorant, Acrobat finds the color with the smallest color difference.

  10. Click Document Colors to see a list of color spaces and spot colors in your document.

  11. Click Ink Manager to specify the ink settings and create an ink alias. If an alias is set up in the Ink Manager, the alias name is next to the Ink Manager button in the Convert Colors dialog box.
  12. Select a command from the list of Conversion Commands, and Move Up or Move Down to change the order of the conversion.
  13. To create a preset based on your settings, click Save Commands. You can later import the settings by clicking Load Commands.

Convert object colors

If certain objects in the PDF don’t match the color space of the document, you can use the Edit Object tool  to correct them. The Edit Object tool can change the color space of selected objects. For example, if you place an RGB image in a CMYK document, use this tool to change only the RGB image and not affect the other PDF colors. You can embed the profile with the object.


The Edit Object tool doesn’t let you change the output intent, because that affects the entire document.

  1. Choose All tools > Use print production > Edit object.

  2. Select the objects you want to convert.

    If you are having trouble selecting an object, try using the Content tab (View > Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Content). The Content tab lists all the elements of the PDF in the order in which they appear on the page.  

  3. Right-click the selection, and choose Properties.

  4. Click the Color tab.

  5. From the Convert To menu, choose the profile that will be the new color space of the object. The current color space of a single object (or identical color spaces for multiple objects) appears at the top of the Color tab for reference. Different color spaces for multiple objects aren’t shown.
  6. From the Rendering Intent menu, choose the translation method appropriate for the object.
  7. (Optional) Select any of the following conversion options:

    Embed Profile

    Embeds the color profile with the object.

    Preserve Black

    Preserves any black objects drawn in CMYK, RGB, or grayscale during conversion. This option prevents text in RGB black from being converted to rich black when converted to CMYK.

    Promote Gray To CMYK Black

    Converts device gray to CMYK.

    Preserve CMYK Primaries

    When transforming colors to prepare CMYK documents for a different target print profile, preserves primaries. For colors with just one colorant, Acrobat uses that colorant. For colors with more than one colorant, Acrobat finds the color with the smallest color difference.

  8. Click Convert Colors.

Remove embedded profiles from individual objects

You can remove the embedded color profiles from images and other objects in the PDF. Without the embedded profile, Acrobat uses the working space profile of the object to determine how to handle the appearance of the color.

  1. Choose All tools > Use print production > Edit object, and select the objects you want to convert.

  2. Right-click the selection, and choose Properties.

  3. Click the Color tab.

  4. Click Decalibrate Colors.

Ink Manager overview

The Ink Manager provides control over inks at output time. Changes you make using the Ink Manager affect the output, not how the colors are defined in the document.

Ink Manager options are especially useful for print service providers. For example, if a process job includes a spot color, a service provider can open the document and change the spot color to the equivalent CMYK process color. If a document contains two similar spot colors when only one is required, or if the same spot color has two different names, a service provider can map the two to a single alias.

In a trapping workflow, the Ink Manager lets you set the ink density for controlling when trapping takes place, and it lets you set the correct number and sequence of inks.


InDesign and Acrobat share the same Ink Manager technology. However, only InDesign has the Use Standard Lab Values For Spots option.

Ink Manager in Acrobat
Ink Manager

A. Process ink B. Aliased Spot ink C. Spot ink 

Open the Ink Manager in Acrobat

Do one of the following:

  • Choose All tools > Use print production > Ink managers.
  • Choose the hamburger   Menu (Windows), or the File menu (macOS) > Print, and select Advanced. In the Output panel of the Advanced Print Setup dialog box, select Ink Manager.
  • Choose hamburger   Menu (Windows), or the File menu (macOS) > Save As Other > More Options > Encapsulated PostScript or PostScript. Select Settings, and then select Ink Manager.

Separate spot colors as process

Using the Ink Manager, you can convert spot colors to process colors. When spot colors are converted to process color equivalents, they are printed as separations rather than on a single plate. Converting a spot color is useful if you’ve accidentally added a spot color to a process color document, or if the document contains more spot colors than are practical to print.

  1. In the Ink Manager, do one of the following:
    • To separate individual spot colors, click the ink-type icon to the left of the spot color or alias ed spot color. A process color icon appears. To change the color back to spot, click the icon again.

    • To separate all spot colors, select Convert All Spots To Process. The icons to the left of the spot colors change to process color icons. To restore the spot colors, deselect Convert All Spots To Process.


    Selecting Convert All Spots To Process removes any ink aliases you’ve set up in the Ink Manager and can also affect overprinting and trapping settings in the document.

  2. (InDesign only) To use the Lab values of a spot color rather than CMYK definitions, choose Use Standard Lab Values For Spots.

Create an ink alias for a spot color

You can map a spot color to a different spot or process color by creating an alias. An alias is useful if a document contains two similar spot colors when only one is required, or if it contains too many spot colors. You can see the effects of ink aliasing in the printed output, and you see the effects onscreen if Overprint Preview mode is on.

  1. In the Ink Manager, select the spot color ink you want to create an alias for.
  2. Choose an option in the Ink Alias menu. The ink type icon and ink description change accordingly.


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