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How to Check if Photoshop File Is CMYK

Published: 03/07/2023

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When editing real estate images, most files would automatically have RGB profiles. However, you'll need to ensure you're using CMYK before printing them to achieve a broader spectrum of colors. If you're unsure about your file's color profile, this guide teaches you different ways how to check if a Photoshop file is CMYK.

How to Check if a Photoshop File Is CMYK

To check if a Photoshop file is in CMYK, go to Image, click on the Mode option, and then look for the color profile in the menu's right-most column. If you want to see both RGB and CMYK versions simultaneously, press CTRL/CMD + Y for a preview.

Color profiles are essential in editing real estate photos or creating artwork in Photoshop. In this way, you can retain color accuracy. However, if you forgot what mode you set the document or you're working on somebody else's file, there are different ways to check the color mode.

Method 1: Checking the CMYK Color Mode in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has five color modes: RGB, CMYK, Grayscale, Bitmap, and Index. RGB is the default color mode when you work on something in Photoshop.

Follow these steps to check if a file is in RGB or CMYK in Photoshop. In effect, color management becomes more manageable as you post-process real estate images.

Checking the color profile of a kitchen with white painting and decorations

Step 1: Checking the Color Profile

For the first part, you simply need to go to the Image tab's Mode option.

  1. Open your photo or project in Photoshop.
  2. Go to the top part of the screen and click the Image tab.
  3. Choose the Mode option. You should see the current color profile in the menu's right-most column. For example, the uploaded photo has an 8-bit RGB color profile.
Choosing a convert to profile in Photoshop of a white kitchen and different decorations

Step 2: Changing Color Spaces

After checking, you can still change your document's color profile or color space.

  1. Head to Edit and choose the Convert to Profile option.
  2. From the dialog box, pick the necessary settings for the color profile conversion.
  3. In the Destination Space field, choose your preferred color mode in the drop-down.
  4. While optional, you may also tick the Flatten Image to Preserve Appearance box. In this way, the colors will turn out well, even if the file has multiple layers or blending.
  5. Click on OK to see the changes in the color space.
Choosing arrange and clicking on new window in Photoshop

Method 2: Checking Both RGB and CMYK Versions in Photoshop

Even though you're working on an RGB document, Photoshop will eventually convert it into CMYK for printing. Thus, you can check both versions simultaneously.

For these steps, you can see the changes made to the RGB file in the CMYK version. This is a great way to compare colors when you need to use files both for digital purposes and printing.

  1. Open the RGB file in Photoshop.
  2. Go to Window, choose Arrange, and click on New Window.
  3. When Photoshop opens another view of the document, press CTRL + Y (Windows) or CMD + Y (Mac) to see the picture's CMYK preview. If you're using Mac, you can also click on View and select Proof Colors.
  4. Click on the original RGB photo and start editing. You should see the changes appearing on the CMYK version as well.

Method 3: Checking if a PSD File Is CMYK in Illustrator

You can also check a PSD file's color mode even when you open it in Adobe Illustrator. The first option is to check if the color mode is listed in parentheses in the document's tab. Follow these steps if the first option doesn't work.

  1. Head to File, then click on Document Color Mode.
  2. You should see a checkmark on the document's color mode.
  3. If the file is in RGB, convert the file into ".ai".
  4. Go to Edit, click on Edit Colors, then choose CMYK as the color space.

Method 4: Checking if a PSD File Is CMYK in InDesign

After post-processing real estate images, you may use them to work on marketing materials such as brochures or catalogs. One of the simplest ways to design a layout is through InDesign.

  1. Head to Window, then expand the Color options.
  2. Open the Color panel. Check the percentage of CMYK. There should be a higher CMYK percentage than RGB.
Clicking the mode and choosing the CMYK color of the kitchen with white color

How to Save Photoshop Files as CMYK

PNG files usually use RGB since they are mostly for web and digital display. Meanwhile, RGB is the default format for JPEG photos from digital cameras and smartphones because these devices have color performance constraints.

Suppose you forgot to check before editing if the PSD file is CMYK. Whether working on a PNG or JPEG photo, you can still save your files with a CMYK color profile.

Clicking the file and choosing 'save as' to save the kitchen with white color
  1. After opening the JPEG or PNG file, navigate to the Image tab.
  2. Click on the Mode sub-menu.
  3. Choose CMYK as the color space. This should convert the file into CMYK.
  4. Go to File, select Save as, and then select Photoshop (PSD).
Click file and then go to new to create a CMYK file in Photoshop

How to Create a CMYK File in Photoshop

The best way to check and know if you have a CMYK file is to create a new CMYK document before editing.

  1. Go to File and click on New.
  2. Photoshop has a default RGB setting. From the New Document window, switch the Color Mode to CMYK.
  3. Check the color modes listed in parenthesis in the document's tab. You can also check it by going to Image and selecting Mode. There should be a checkmark next to the document's color mode.
From new document window, switch the color mode in Photoshop

Why Is It Important to Check if Your Photoshop File Is CMYK?

CMYK is the four ink plates used in printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). It's mainly used for commercial printing to produce a full spectrum of colors for photos or graphics.

However, RGB is the default color mode when designing or editing images in Photoshop. This color mode is ideal for viewing your work digitally. The downside is that this may change how your edits look when printing.

For this reason, it's crucial that you understand the importance of checking if your file is in RGB or CMYK.

  • Prevent washed-out colors when printing: Have you experienced wherein your edits look like they have the right colors on the screen yet appear faded when printed? This is because you've set the print settings using RGB instead of CMYK.
  • Greater control over the final colors: It's vital for photo editors to learn how hues interact or mingle to define a color pigment. When you change to CMYK, you can predict how the final colors will appear in your edits or prints.
  • Save time in editing: Before you make complex color adjustments, it's important to check that you're already working on the CMYK file. Otherwise, you may need to spend more time tweaking the colors or start from scratch.

Related Questions

What Photoshop Files Can Be CMYK?

File formats such as JPEG, PNG, PSD, and TIFF can be CMYK. You can still convert them to CMYK even if they are saved initially or downloaded in RGB.

Do I Need to Convert RGB to CMYK?

It's ideal to convert RGB to CMYK if you print real estate pictures or graphic design works. However, if you only use the files for digital uploads, you can retain the RGB color mode.

How to Check the Color Management Setup in Photoshop?

To check or modify your color management setup, head to Edit, then click on Color Settings. From here, you can change Working Spaces for RGB and CMYK. You may also alter Color Management Policies, Conversion Options, and Advanced Controls.


To see if a Photoshop file is CMYK, go to Image, expand the Mode options, and then check the color profile. Learning to check if you're working on a CMYK file can save you time when doing real estate photography edits while ensuring color accuracy.


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