Color-managing imported images (Illustrator, InDesign)

How imported images are integrated into a document’s color space depends on whether or not the image has an embedded profile:

  • When you import an image that contains no profile, the Adobe application uses the current document profile to define the colors in the image.
  • When you import an image that contains an embedded profile, color policies in the Color Settings dialog box determine how the Adobe application handles the profile.

Using a safe CMYK workflow

A safe CMYK workflow ensures that CMYK color numbers are preserved all the way to the final output device, as opposed to being converted by your color management system. This workflow is beneficial if you want to incrementally adopt color management practices. For example, you can use CMYK profiles to soft-proof and hard-proof documents without the possibility of unintended color conversions occurring during final output.

Illustrator and InDesign support a safe CMYK workflow by default. As a result, when you open or import a CMYK image with an embedded profile, the application ignores the profile and preserves the raw color numbers. If you want your application to adjust color numbers based on an embedded profile, change the CMYK color policy to Preserve Embedded Profiles in the Color Settings dialog box. You can easily restore the safe CMYK workflow by changing the CMYK color policy back to Preserve Numbers (Ignore Linked Profiles).

You can override safe CMYK settings when you print a document or save it to Adobe PDF. However, doing so may cause colors to be reseparated. For example, pure CMYK black objects may be reseparated as rich black. For more information on color management options for printing and saving PDFs, search in Help.

Preparing imported graphics for color management

Use the following general guidelines to prepare graphics for being color-managed in Adobe applications:

  • Embed an ICC-compliant profile when you save the file. The file formats that support embedded profiles are JPEG, PDF, PSD (Photoshop), AI (Illustrator), INDD (InDesign), Photoshop EPS, Large Document Format, and TIFF.
  • If you plan to reuse a color graphic for multiple final output devices or media, such as for print, video, and the web, prepare the graphic using RGB or Lab colors whenever possible. If you must save in a color model other than RGB or Lab, keep a copy of the original graphic. RGB and Lab color models represent larger color gamuts than most output devices can reproduce, retaining as much color information as possible before being translated to a smaller output color gamut.

View or change profiles for imported bitmap images (InDesign)

InDesign allows you to view, override, or disable profiles for imported bitmap images. This may be necessary when you are importing an image containing no profile or an incorrectly embedded profile. For example, if the scanner manufacturer’s default profile was embedded but you have since generated a custom profile, you can assign the newer profile.

  1. Do one of the following:
  • If the graphic is already in layout, select it and choose Object > Image Color Settings.
  • If you’re about to import the graphic, choose File > Place, select Show Import Options, select and open the file, and then select the Color tab.
  1. For Profile, choose the source profile to apply to the graphic in your document. If a profile is currently embedded, the profile name appears at the top of the Profile menu.
  2. (Optional) Choose a rendering intent, and then click OK. In most cases, it’s best to use the default rendering intent.


You can also view or change profiles for objects in Acrobat.