InDesign CS6 | Grayscale preview and export

Among the various new features in InDesign CS6, Grayscale Preview and Export should come in really handy to all print designers. For any print jobs that also need a grayscale output, you no longer need to maintain a separate file. You also don’t need to send the full color PDF to the printer and cross your fingers that they’ll do a proper conversion. This feature gives you proper control on your design, and reduces extra work for maintaining different layouts.


Grayscale Preview

Several Dot Gain profiles are available with InDesign CS6 that you can use to preview your layouts. Using this feature you can avoid maintaining different layouts for full-color and grayscale outputs.

  1. Use Proof Setup (View > Proof Setup) to specify grayscale proof options, and choose a Dot Gain or Gamma destination.
  2. After you’ve setup the proof, choose View > Proof Colors to toggle between grayscale and color output.

Export Grayscale PDF

When you export a grayscale PDF all page items, irrespective of their original color space, are converted to grayscale while exporting to PDF.

  1. Export document to PDF (Print)
  2. Click the Output tab in the PDF export options dialog box.
  3. From the Color Conversion list, choose Convert To Destination.
  4. Under Destination, choose a Dot Gain or Gray Gamma destination.
PDF Export Options dialog box

PDF Export Options dialog box

Have you tried out this feature yet?  Let us know what you think. Do you think that you can use it for other workflows as well?

Have you tried InDesign CS6 ? Download a trial. Incase you need it, see the instructions to install a trial.

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  1. #1 by selvamurali on May 15, 2012 - 5:50 am


    This will help more peoples in the media industry.
    thank you

  2. #2 by Jim Steel on July 27, 2012 - 2:12 am

    Works well, even on inexpensive portable printer. Selected Dot 25%. Set printer driver to B & W. Would have done even better by setting it to High Quality Grayscale.

  3. #3 by Stephen on October 19, 2012 - 8:28 pm

    Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to Greyscale is easier, especially if you don’t have a greyscale color destination set up in your PDF export options.

  4. #4 by Jeff on December 13, 2012 - 5:19 am

    I’ve tried what this site gives as an example and even looked for what “Stephen” posted October 19th said is easier. None of these options appear with my C6S InDesign. Every time it looks b/w I save and it saves as color.

  5. #5 by Brian on March 8, 2013 - 5:14 am

    Jeff, yes, I think what Stephen posted is actually from Illustrator. There is no Edit > Edits Colors > Convert to Grayscale option in InDesign.

    What this article is describing is simply a preview. Your document is still actually in color, it’s just *previewing* it in B&W, not actually *converting* it to B&W. It just shows you what it would look like in B&W.

    Then you export your PDF using similar settings in the output options.

  6. #6 by Kaguta on June 28, 2013 - 2:44 pm

    Thank you so much, just saved me a tone of time…

  7. #7 by mjikhan on August 28, 2013 - 4:43 pm

    how to make preview when we want check our file?

  8. #8 by Ann on October 17, 2013 - 12:08 am

    I tried several combinations of Destination settings (Generic Gray Gamma 2.2, Dot gain 30%). The resulting PDF is gray, but if I place that PDF into an InDesign document as a piece of art, it preflights as containing 4 process inks. This is exporting from a document that contains only black, by the way. Should I open that pdf in Photoshop and convert to grayscale? Will it retain its resolution?

  9. #9 by Jenny on December 10, 2013 - 12:28 am

    I have a newspaper that currently has color pictures that I normally grayscale individually. Now that I see this new feature, I am inclined to grayscale the entire paper, but I would like to keep the masthead in color. Is that possible?

  10. #10 by samet bicakci on February 13, 2014 - 4:40 am

    how can i export 2 colors? magenta and black

  11. #11 by Phil on March 7, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    All I have listed within the ‘Destination’ drop-down is ‘CMYK’ and ‘RGB’, where are all the ‘Dot Gain XX%’ please?

  12. #12 by Chuck on March 28, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    Phil, when you are at the export screen, change the Color Conversion drop-down from Convert to Destination (Preserve Numbers) to Convert to Destination.

    Then, at the bottom of the list will be the all of the Gray options to select from.

  13. #13 by Glenda on April 3, 2014 - 4:33 am

    LOVE IT!!! Thank you! You’ve made my life so much easier.

  14. #14 by raffael on May 14, 2014 - 6:11 am


    my indesign does no have the Dot Gain option under the Destination menu. What do I do?

  15. #16 by Jason on July 13, 2014 - 2:42 am

    another great post thanks.

  16. #17 by Jan Carlo Marquez on September 24, 2014 - 5:26 am

    Make sure you’re selecting “Convert to Destination” not (Preserve Numbers) in the Color Conversion option on the output panel.

    You Jenny, I don’t suggest just grayscalling an entire newspaper with photographs, you’re not going to end up with good results. That’s just straight up laziness, but I see where your head’s at. If only it were that easy.

  17. #18 by Abed Bzaae on February 3, 2015 - 5:01 pm

    Thanks very muuuuuuuch

  18. #19 by Ryboy on July 29, 2015 - 3:53 pm

    Worked great – thank you!

  19. #20 by francis on February 11, 2016 - 1:15 am

    The PDF file will have good resolution doing this?
    Thank you

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