Mac OS Photo Printing Problem

Recently I found myself in a complete panic when I suffered a serious photo printing problem on my Mac. Fortunately, I was able to resolve it, but I wasted a lot of time and money in the process. Then scarily, one of my friends experienced the same issue. Here’s one of the prints to help you understand the problem.

Print illustrating the Mac Photo Printing problem

In this article, I’m going to explain the problem and what I did to fix it by resetting the Mac printing system.

My Past Printing Problems

Most of my photo printing problems in the past have been when using Adobe Lightroom on a Windows PC. I usually print from Lightroom as it makes Soft Proofing very easy and the resulting prints are a good match for my monitor. But Lightroom hasn’t been without its problems. I’ve experienced prints that seem to lose contrast and colour, ending up looking “muddy”, very much like the example above. You can even read about this on my blog some time back (

If you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, it’s because it’s happened to me a few times now. Each time, nothing I try fixes the problem, but then suddenly it vanishes, and my prints are fine again. Then about two years ago the problem resurfaced on my Windows PC, and it’s remained ever since. I make a test print every couple of months but there’s always a problem. After this, I gave up printing on my PC and have made all my prints using a Mac. That’s why it was such a scare when the Mac developed the same issue.

Why Printing Problems are Hard to Trace

Although I don’t believe I’m the only person with this problem, it’s very hard to track down in the ocean of information that is the internet. Most peoples printing problems come down to not understanding how soft proofing works, or how to configure a printer. When you search for answers in articles or on forums, most assume you’re making a mistake with in one of these two areas. I even had one person refer me to my own book (not knowing it was me) to learn how to soft proof correctly.

The Problem with my Mac

The latest problem when printing from my Mac came to light when I needed to make an A3 print. I had been printing a couple of days earlier and all the prints were fine. This time I turned my printer on and printed an image from Lightroom. The image had previously printed correctly, but now it looked dull, muddy and with terrible colour. I immediately recognised it as the same problem that I had on my Windows PC.

I decided immediately that it was Lightroom again and switched to Photoshop, but the result was no better. I then decided to try Affinity Photo but that was the same. In fact, nothing I tried would make an accurate print. I checked and then rechecked every setting, but nothing worked. I even tried telling the printer to “manage the colours” rather than using a printer profile but still didn’t improve things.

Eventually, I sent the image file to my Windows PC and made a print using Qimage. The print looked great so now I knew the problem was my Mac and not the image. Working through my memory, I realised that I had upgraded my Mac OS to Mojave (the latest operating system at this time) since I had made my last successful print and it might be the problem.

How I Fixed my Mac Photo Printing Problem

My initial searches came up with suggestions about print driver compatibility issues. This is very possible with every new OS release, so I installed the latest printer driver for my Epson printer. Unfortunately, this didn’t fix the issue.

I then came across an article explaining how to fix printer issues on a Mac. This explained that it’s possible to experience problems with the print system and that you can reset this. Resetting the print system on a Mac essentially deletes all the print drivers, forcing you to reinstall them. It’s therefore something of a last resort, especially if you have a few print drivers installed. It did though fix my problem, and everything now works. This is how to do it:

  1. Open the Mac System Preferences.
  2. Select Printers & Scanners.
  3. On the left side of the dialog, you should see a list of the installed printers.
  4. Right click on this list and in the pop-up menu select “Reset Printing System…”
  5. You asked to confirm that you want to reset the system. Select the Reset button.

This resets your printing system and you will need to reinstall your printer drive.


After I reset my Mac printing system everything started working properly and my prints were accurate.

Print after fixing the Mac photo printing problem

My friend who also started to have printing problems also tried this and it fixed his issue. Best of all, I just tried printing from Lightroom on my Windows PC and that’s also started working.

I hope if you’re experiencing Mac photo printing problems my experience can help you.

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