How to Print a Large Tiff File

by Bridget Conn
printer cartridge image by hugy from

A "tiff" is an uncompressed file format that is usually used for photographic images. Tiffs contain a large amount of information, and so it is presumed that you will want to print them at the highest quality setting possible so that the details will be fully translated onto paper. The process is not any more difficult than printing a smaller file, though there are a few extra steps to observe that will help to create a high-quality print.

Step 1

Select a paper that is suited to print photographic images. Using plain typing paper or copy paper will not capture the range of values and colors inherent in a high-quality Tiff file. If possible, select the same type of paper as the manufacturer of your printer.

Step 2

Access a printer that is designed to Tiff quality images, if possible. Most home inkjet printers will print a photographic image of an acceptable quality, though photo-specific printers will give the contrast and color range that a Tiff is designed to provide. These types of printers often have the word "photo" in their model name, and use individual-color ink cartridges.

Step 3

Clean the print heads on your printer. This prevents lines, known as banding, as well as color shifts. Right-click on the printer icon in the taskbar, located on the lower right corner of your screen. Follow the step-by-step instructions after clicking the option to clean the print heads.

Step 4

Open the Tiff file in your computer's imaging software or default picture viewer. Make any changes to contrast, color and cropping as necessary or possible.

Step 5

Select Print from the File menu in the software. Select the option called Page Options or Print Options, depending on your software model. This will bring up a dialog box specific to your printer.

Step 6

Choose the paper size, orientation, the source. The size will likely be legal, or 8.5 by 11 inches. The orientation refers to whether the image is tall (portrait) or long (landscape). The source is either a sheet or roll of paper.

Step 7

Select the type of media being used. The instruction sheet with your paper may suggest a certain media based on your printer manufacturer. There may be a number of options to experiment with, but the important detail is to select whether the paper you have chosen has a glossy surface or is matte.

Step 8

Select the highest print quality available. This option is known under various terms depending on the manufacturer, but will usually be the top or last quality in a list of options.

Load the paper into the printer on its correct side as explained by the paper's instruction sheet. Press print. If the print has problems with its contrast or color, return to the file in the imaging software. Make the necessary changes and repeat the process as needed.


  • So as not to waste ink, use the selector tool in your imaging software to choose a portion of the image with a variety of colors or contrast. Copy and paste this portion into a new document. Make the necessary changes and print test strips until it is determined what changes to apply to the entire image.


  • "Photography", 9th ed.; Barbara London, Jim Stone, John Upton; 2008

Photo Credits

About the Author

Bridget Conn wears many hats of artist, photographer, educator, writer and designer while living in beautiful Asheville, N.C. She currently teaches Art at Blue Ridge Community College, and is also the primary educator and Co-Director at The Asheville Darkroom, an upcoming 501c3 photographic center.

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