Often when you download .pdfs of books from Archive.org, you find that the printed text has been rendered grey. I am seeking a program runnable on 64-bit Windows 7 Pro that can print such a .pdf with all greys (and colours) going to black. Note that this is not the same as greyscale printing, which renders light colours such as yellow as grey. What I need is basically to increase the contrast by a lot.

As far as I know, this cannot be done either with PDF Xchange Viewer (version 2 build 54) or Adobe Acrobat Pro (2018.11.20058).

When I say "print", I mean that "all colours go to black" is the outcome I ultimately require in the printed hardcopy. So printing to an electronic file using PDF Creator or Adobe PDF would be fine, since I could then print in the usual way from that file. So would altering the .pdf so that it saves as the high-contrast version required. In fact either of these methods would be preferable to a route that prints in high contrast out of the printer but does not leave me with a high-contrast electronic file. But so long as I can get the high-contrast file out of the printer I will be happy.

  • Fax machines were typically bitonal, maybe there's a way to go through a fax emulator. Aug 18, 2018 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


First, try changing Gamma and Contrast in the printer Properties dialog. However, if you've already tried that and it's not sufficient, a graphics utility such as IrfanView can provide full control of the image. To use IrfanView with PDF files, Ghostscript also must be installed. Both applications are free for personal use. Press ShiftG in IrfanView to adjust contrast, brightness, gamma, etc. The image below shows the original PDF and as modified in IrfanView.

PDF modified in IrfanView

Caveat: Printing from IrfanView needs to be done one page at a time, AFAIK. This is not entirely a bad thing, though, since extreme changes to one page might not work well for another.

  • Many thanks for this. It works as you say, but unfortunately having to deal with each page individually in a long document can be unfeasible. Eventually I found a solution without using Irfan that can process a whole document.
    – user40027
    Jan 19, 2019 at 20:40

At long last I have found a way to do this which doesn't require attending to each page individually. Here is what to do:

  • print to Adobe PDF (the printer), having
  • unchecked "Print in greyscale (black and white)" and
  • chosen "Printer Colour Management" under Advanced | Colour Management | Colour Handling"

This creates a .pdf file that you can then send to a hardcopy printer in the normal way.

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