Thursday, May 31, 2007

Convert a color PDF to grayscale

Have you ever had a color PDF file that you needed to convert to grayscale? Acrobat 8 Professional has a simple-but-not-obvious way to accomplish this.

1. Open a color PDF file in Acrobat 8 Professional. The file may contain a mix of CMYK, RGB or spot color objects.

2. Choose Advanced > Print Production > Preflight.

3. Click the right-pointing triangle next to PDF Fixups, and select the Convert to Grayscale option that appears.

4. Click the Execute button. The entire PDF file will be converted to grayscale.

123 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you, thank you

Anonymous said...

but the document wont be coverted to grayscale only.
the gray is created by all four process colors, not only black.

Robin said...

Thanks a lot, Keith!
Saves me a lot of work.

Anonymous said...

<3<3<3

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot! This was very helpful!

Katie said...

You rock!

Anonymous said...

u da man!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! (:

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU! Battled to find how to convert to grayscale for TWO WEEKS, then stumbled upon your SOLUTION...(sigh of relief!)

Rottweiler said...

thank you thank you thank you very much

Seán Mongey said...

Thanks you so much! You saved my project!

Anonymous said...

It's weird that the files size is not reduced by this method?!?

McTastic said...

I must be missing something here. I can convert to greyscale doing this:

1 - Advanced/Print Production/Convert Colors...
2 - set all "Document Colors" to "convert"
3 - set "Blending profile" to "Gray Gamma 1.8"
4 - set "conversion options" to "don't embed profile"

That works, but it seems to wash out the colors slightly. I'm looking for a way to keep the black saturated.

When I do the process YOU've noted here, and then check the separations, I actually have MORE CMYK color being used (as Anonymous noted Nov 28th).

Maybe I'm doing something wrong here. Anyone know?

Keith Gilbert said...

Mctastic, I'm not sure what is going on with your file(s). It works consistently for me, and apparently for others judging by the comments here. If you'd like to send me a file that this method isn't working for, I'd be happy to take a look at it and see if I can discover anything. Interesting that you are having the same problem as the poster on 11/28/07.

Laura said...

Mactastic, I'm having the same problem you are. I have an image that appears to be grayscale, but is actually a 4 color process build gray. Even after I use the PreFlight menu, and the Fixup option. And when I use the Convert Colors option to manually change the colors to grayscale, my gray colors wash out too. Try checking the "Preserve Black" option at the bottom of the Convert Colors menu. See if that helps

Anonymous said...

the same here!
When converting a pdf to greyscale in abobe acrobat the 100% black turns out washed out!

Any ideas on how to convert a file a turn out a 100% black?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Keith. I still have one question. Once I convert it, the ink manager still show that I am in process. So I'm concerned that when ripping to print blank plates will still be created for CMYK. Any thoughts on how to remove the CMYK all together. I'm trying to convert a pdf of a 20page publication to send to a printer for newsprint production.
Thanks again.

Laura Amy E. said...

Thank you! Worked beautifully.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH! You saved me a ton of work!!

Keith Gilbert said...

Once you've converted to grayscale, don't worry about what the Ink Manager says. Instead, use the Output Preview panel to view the separations to ensure that there is nothing on the C, M, or Y separations. You should only see pixels on the K (Black) separation.

Dean Earlix said...

On the PC version of Acrobat 8, a couple files I tried this on had their option to convert to grayscale grayed out. Saving to a different filename, then opening the new file enabled me to carry out the process without difficulty. Thanks for posting these steps!

Michael said...

Hi, Keith. Unfortunately, I'm having the same problem as some other people posting. I do get the the grayscale version of my color ad, but the grayscale is built with CMYK process. How come it works for some and not others? Thanks!

Keith Gilbert said...

Michael, what indication are you getting that the gray is a four-color process gray? Are you looking at it in Output Preview, and seeing pixels on all 4 separations?

David said...

Thanks for this blog and Keith Gilbert.

Re washed out grays. I believe the 2 methods used here, preflight and Convert Colour, are actually the same thing only you get to preserve black in the Convert Colours method (this can cause more issues than it solves). I think the only difference is preflight uses profile dot gain 15% as the default profile. As it sounds everything gains 15% making them darker. Why the 1.8 and 2.2 make the images print so washed out but look OK on screen is a mystery to me that has caused hours of headache. I've tried a 100 different setting with no luck. Doing it the preflight way led me to find out dot gain 15% was being used and is perhaps a better profile.

All is not so rosy however. When converting it seems Adobe uses a lossy compression on your images (bitmaps) resulting in lost data and therefore clarity. I have to convert to greyscale then sharpen up every image individually to get good results. If anyone has a fix for this pleeease let me know.

On the grays being CMYK. My experiments thus far have seen all pages converted to true gray (single bw click charge) and no colour.

Anonymous said...

I've got the same problem. Converting to grayscale does show color on the other (CMY) plates when viewed in Output Preview.

Dana said...

omg! thank you so much!!!!! You are so awesome for sharing... we all could have just been left wondering if it were ever possible and stuck at our pc's trying to figure it out ourselves... THANK YOU!!!!

Mario said...

Keith you are a genius! Thank you very much!

Tortured by inept supremacy said...

HAHAHA, You ARE so AWESOME! THANK YOU, THAAAANK YOU for saving me so much time! It worked like a charm and I'm on Acrobat 9! LOL. I'm so HAPPY. Sigh. Now I need a cigarette.

JA said...

Just an addition to the four colour problem. I experimented with a file and ran the above fixup. When I went into Output Preview to see how it converted what I saw depended on what Simulation Profile I had selected. Choose SWOP Press, or Uncoated and it really does appear that the blacks are made up of all four colours. Choose a simple dot gain (25% would be our web press) and the blacks appear only made up of black ink.
I saved my converted file and then opened up in Illustrator to check the real composition of the file, and the blacks were truly made up of black ink only.

Anonymous said...

You are great! It works.

Anonymous said...

Great time saver, Thanks

Bobby said...

Very helpful - many thanks

davidb said...

Is there some way of describing the joy I felt on reading this? Trying to solve this issue has made my life a misery for 48 sleepless hours. Now I have to spend the rest of the day relaxed and productive - where's the fun in that? I kiss your virtual foot.

David said...

I have a similar problem. Output Preview shows 0,0,0,100 when viewed with a SWOP Simulation Profile, but 96% when viewed through a Dot Gain profile. Converting to Grayscale makes it 96% Gray.

Anonymous said...

Ok,I've got the problem of washout colours, but only in one repeated part ok my document. This occurs only when I produce few pdf pages of my document together; when I do it one page at a time, everything's ok...


Somebody as a clue?

Joe said...

Eggcellent! Thanks for the tip!

Keith Gilbert said...

See my post from 3/24/09 at http://blog.gilbertconsulting.com/2009/03/convert-color-pdf-to-grayscale-in.html for an update about how this has changed in Acrobat 9 Pro.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tip! You saved me a lot of aggravation.

cd said...

When I did this it looked fine, until I zoomed in and compared it to the cmyk version. The grayscale version showed compression artifacts. Is there a way to set this so that it does not re-compress the file?

Keith Gilbert said...

CD: I don't know of any way to do this without the images being JPEG comopressed in the resulting PDF file.

jennration said...

Thanks, this is really awesome! I tried everything I could think of and nothing worked...until I discovered your trick. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks! it really helped

Anonymous said...

I will name my baby after you.

Zinho said...

Thanks alot very useful!!!

Neo said...

Hi folks,

I was looking for a solution to this problem myself and after looking around couldn't believe it cannot be simpler than this.

Well I stumbled upon the solution on the mac. Sorry WinX people, I won't be much help to you guys, but if ever I do, I'll make sure I'll post it right here!

The solution comes from good old Preview. Just open your document (pdf, jpeg, tiff, eps, whatever.. ) with Preview and choose "Save As". Under the Format type, you'll see Quartz Filter option. Choose "Gray Tone" and save your file. Boom!! Instant grayscale!! That's it!!!

You might want to check out other quartz filters also - There's a "Sepia Tone", "Blue Tone" and even a "Black and White" filter and more!! Check it out just for kicks! Amazing stuff..

Now isn't that an elegant solution guys?

Cheers,
Neo

Keith Gilbert said...

Neo,

Good point about the grayscale ability of Preview. BUT, be very careful with this. This will work well for simple Word, PowerPoint, and other office-style documents. But if you are converting a PDF to grayscale for commercial printing, there are numerous problems with saving PDFs in Preview. For example, if you have an Acrobat 5 or later file that contains transparent objects, these objects will get butchered by Preview, and the appearance of the transparent objects will change dramatically.

Neo said...

@ Keith

Yes thanks for pointing it out Keith. Preview does have its limitations. It is OK to work with this, if you have some less intensive stuff you'd want to just quickly check with the office printer.

I suppose you'd want to fall back on the other master techniques discussed in this thread for more precise control and output.

Thanks for the great post! Awesome is the word.
-neo

Viper Design said...

Superb! Thanks for the tip. At first I couldn't find the PDF Fixups part but then scrolled down and voila!

Keep up the good work :)

Patricia said...

Thank you so much! I googled, clicked the link to your page and had my problem solved in less than a minute!

jerrett said...

Thanks! I'm glad I found this instead of trying to figure it out on my own!!

John said...

THANK YOU.

John said...

THANK YOU. Best advice ever!

Anonymous said...

You're the best,

Booker said...

SHWEEEEEEET! Took me longer to write this comment...

Chantha said...

genius! Thank you :D

Anonymous said...

Great Work. Thanks a lot.

html to pdf converter said...

I have been reading your blog last couple of weeks and enjoy every bit. Thanks.

Andrei said...

thank you so much

Marty said...

You are amazing. Thank you so very much!!!!

joshua said...

Great, thank you a lot for this!

Correy Honza said...

You just saved me a lot of work! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You are the bomb! Thanks. This is much easier than converting in Photoshop.

Miachel said...

You. Are. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks - saved me some time, and as is too usual the built-in adobe help was no help at all...

Fishxfish said...

Really Thanks!
This helped! ^__^

junglejim said...

Thanks for the tip on converting the color PDF to grayscale. I just got a Xerox Phaser that is on the Page Pack billing plan and it automatically counts which pages have color info and charges more for them, even if they're mixed in the same print job (providing you set the driver to "pure black" so it doesn't create gray/black from colors. Now I can make sure there's no CMY in any of the pages I want to print without color.

Neno said...

Thanks for the tip :)

She's just this girl, you know? said...

Just as you said, simple but HARD TO FIND. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

My grayscale file was much smaller than the color; g:c::3:10. Thanks, Kieth.

Anonymous said...

straightforward, clear and working. Thanks

Anonymous said...

SO MUCH EASIER than any help from Adobe. Thanks!!

The Bookery Cook said...

MUCH THANKS!! The most helpful (and only successful) help.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to change only certain pages into grayscale, while leaving the others CMYK?

Keith Gilbert said...

@ Anonymous: I don't know of a simple way to do this on a page-by-page basis, sorry.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU VERY MUCH !!!

Jason Silbernagel said...

Just saved me a bunch of time. Many thanks for leaving this out there.

Jo said...

Ive been using that preflight covert for a while, but now it doesnt work on a particular file. Blah!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I never would have found it otherwise! :) ~ JM

Anonymous said...

Aw, super helpful!! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOUUUU!

Heidi said...

This came up immediately in my search and it was exactly what i needed ! Thank you !

Celia said...

RE: converting some pages but leaving the rest in CMYK...This is a bit laborious but it will do the trick.

1. Extract the page you want to grayscale (Document>Extract Pages).

2. Save somewhere temporary and quick to access(eg your desktop).

3. Run the grayscale conversion and save the page as pagexGRAY.pdf (x being whatever page number it is). Do not check the 'delete page after extracting' box! Better safe than sorry.

4.Go back to the original multipage document, chose Document>Insert Page, and select the pagexGRAY.pdf file you just created.

5. Once you're sure it's all good, you can safely delete the colour version of page x by following the Document>Extract Pages + tick the check box to delete. You'll end up with the colour page extracted again but you can just send it to Trash.

Repeat as necessary!

Hope these steps are clear,good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This was so helpful!

A Well Being said...

again, thank you! more tips on using preflight would be most welcome!

Deering Banjo Company said...

Keep the tips coming! Thanks!

skaai said...

thanks to google to pointing me to you, and thank you for the useful tip... saved me lots of time!

John Atkinson said...

Delighted I found your tip about using preflight to convert colours. I need to create a black plate only for mono printing. I find that to achieve this I also need to select the profile "Digital printing (B/W)".

I have previously created a single black plate in Acrobat Professional 8 using Advanced> Print Production>convert colors> Device gray: Convert> Profile: grey gamma 2.2> don't embed profile ... but now it doesn't seem to work - the colour is shared between 4 plates - either I've forgotten something or an Adobe update has changed things!

I'm delighted to have found a way that results in a single black plate.

Bryan Seaford said...

Just adding to the accolades - many thanks for the simple solution! :) Like many of the others, I've been looking for the solution off and on for some time, and glad to have found your post.
Best,
Bryan

themiles said...

Great tip just what I needed thanks!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you

Anonymous said...

Outstanding! Thank you very much. This little trick saved me a lot of time!

Anonymous said...

Invaluable tip - just had to say thank you!!

Anonymous said...

OMG! Why didn't I look this up sooner!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

thanks! from NC

inky56 said...

Brilliant you have saved me hours of work converting individual images to tiffs in Photoshop then having to drop them in again. I wish I had searched for an answer before. Big massive thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving such a nice information.
___________
Mary

Mark said...

I don't seem to be having much luck when I convert a 4 colour PDF into greyscale through Preflight. It turns the pages to greyscale but splits the grey over CMYK. I have had this problem before, and don't know why it is happening. Is there an option that I need to change so greyscale is only on the black plate? Very frustrating.

Maisonwares said...

Thank you! Years after this is posted, it's still helping people! :)

Anonymous said...

THNX! I have searched EVERYWHERE!! But this is the best and easiest way to do it!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!! Saved me lots of time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. I needed my native INDD files to be black and white, and this conversion gave me a quick reference to what the swatches needed to be changed to.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!

celiab said...

I first found and used this blessed, wonderful advice 3 years ago. On the two occasions a year I need to convert this way, I still forget where the commands are hidden in Adobe ... so I go to my Bookmarks and read this all over again! Hurray for Keith!

Anonymous said...

thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

HOW TO PRESERVE BLACK
I didn’t go through the forum but will post this anyway incase someone didn’t. Some of you may have been able to create a grayscale but wanted to keep the black as black. Sometimes the black comes out as black and sometimes it doesn’t. The reason is... Indesign still has this big problem with their drop shadow. If you have a drop shadow around that area you’re trying to keep as black... Get rid of the drop shadow and your problem will be solve. Whether image or font. I create lots of ads and use these functions a lot. This may not be the only way but it works for me.
So here are the steps (go to):
Advance
Print production
Convert colors
(on Output Intent) check Convert Colors to Output Intent
(choose) Gray Gamma 2.2 (for profile next to the Output Intent option)
(below this) check Preserve Black
(Press) ok

If you want your work to be in all grayscale, don’t check the preserve black. But remember you must not have drop shadows or its all just be grayscale if you want to preserve black

hope it helps
tiger

chotu said...

Thank you very much. this saved a lot of time for me

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. I can't describe the headache your simple tip just saved me!

Anonymous said...

Worked like a charm - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Awesome tip, just saved me a major headache (Acrobat X)

Anonymous said...

Keith: Beautiful tip, and worked well in Acrobat 9 Professional as well, although the icons were a little different than those you described in Ver. 8. Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, you have saved my day! :)

Anonymous said...

how do I do this on Acrobat 10? Cant find the pre production or preflight option....

deirdre said...

Thanks, your're a lifesaver :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips! For those who still have problems, even after all the settings — try checking printer driver.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Keith!!! I Google searched "convert pdf from color to grayscale", your the top hit, followed your instructions...no problem. Crazy this is buried so deep in Acrobat...

Anonymous said...

Seriously awesome.
Great job.
Thanks for the easy tip!

Anonymous said...

This is a good tip,

however I didn't have access to Acrobat professional.

I ended up finding this free site called greyscalepdf.com where I could convert the PDF for free.

r garriott said...

Ironically the convert to gray scale in Acrobat Pro did not work for me, although I ran it through numerous times. Neither did exporting the original Illustrator file (not a single item in the file was anything but percentages of 'K', but seemed worth a try)to Photoshop in gray scale, and then saving to PDF-- the output profile still thought it was CMYK!

I did find a workaround-- and if you have a small file (this was a small B/W newspaper ad) it might be helpful to you. I set a new file and copied and pasted all the elements from the old into it. Then it was fine. I guess the original ad file was corrupted somehow.

Anonymous said...

Here's another simple method that has some benefits over the ones so far mentioned in this thread, including being able to convert a single page in a multi-page document (or even a single object on a page):

1) Go to Tools/Advanced Editing/Touchup Object Tool.
2) Right click on a page you want to convert to greyscale. Choose "Select All"
3) Right click on the page again and choose "Properties"
4) Select the "Color" tab". Set "Convert to" to "sGray", and ensure that "Embed Profile" is not checked
5) Press the "Convert Colors" button

Easy peasy. Enjoy!

C

Anonymous said...

AMAZING!!!!!
Thank you so much for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I now have adobe acrobat pro v11. When i try and use the convert colours method the "convert colurs to output intent box" is greyed out?. When i use the preflight method - the file is converted to grayscale but why when i bring it into AI or Indesign do the cmy plates also show as output even though there is nothing on them?

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Short, simple, to the point. High Five!

Terri Blake said...

Thank you VERY MUCH!