What Is ICM on Your Printer?

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ICM, or Image Color Management, is a system used to define and control the colors on a printed document. When you print a photograph or document from your computer, a driver within the computer sends color information to the printer. The printer in turn reads this information in order to select which colors to use in replicating and printing the image.


How ICM Works

When you install a printer on your computer, the installation process generally has to do more than just install the software. Most printers also have to get the most up-to-date drivers from the Web. One of the drivers that is installed on your computer during this process is the Image Color Management driver. With this driver in place, your computer and your printer are better able to communicate on color details.

Color Profiles

Since all devices produce color in different ways, the ICM driver is important to make sure that your printer can interpret the colors of a picture or some other file in the same way your eyes do when you are looking at the file on a computer screen. Your monitor produces color using lights, phosphors and other elements of LCD technology. Printers produce color using a mix of different ink colors on different types of paper.


Color profiles on your computer are able to measure the exact colors being produced by a monitor at any given time. Color profiles in your printer define different shades so that they can be accurately reproduced on paper. ICM works with both sets of color profiles to make sure that the computer and the printer are on the same page, so to speak, for interpreting and producing colors. The benefits include printing high-quality photos, as well as accurately matching the color representation of logos across a range of printed materials.

Other Color Management Systems

ICM is a program designed for Windows machines, which means that it is not a universally used color management system between computers and printers. Apple designed its own color management system called ColorSync for the Mac OS X operating system. Though these systems have different names, they both serve to standardize colors between devices and printers.