Max print and file size with print tool on a mac

I posted this earlier on the community forum, where I saw some one had a similar problem printing large files. I realized that there may be both a maximum file size for print tool, and a maximum print size. As I can successfully print a large file at 2880 dpi with a small print, that then failed to print at either 360 or720 when the print size was large. I am using an epson 9880 with a mac. Does any one know what the maximum image and file size I can print on 44" roll paper is.

also if file size has a max size does an 8 bit image print the same with the 16bit print tool settings or do I need to re-profile the paper

"I have a very large beautiful file I would like to optimize for a large print. Have encountered the black print, the multiple start banded print, and most disappointing a print that ran about 90% perfectly, and then just stopped, tried it again and it stopped in the same place. I figure I am running up against a max size in the code.

Does anyone know what the max size I can use in print tool on a mac??

Also If I print in 8bit as apposed to 16print are there any notable differences ???"

thanks michael

Hi Michael,

Walker may have an answer for you, but since he hasn’t responded yet I have a few ideas, though not a direct answer to your file size question …

  1. Use grayscale rather than RGB.
  2. Convert to 8-bit for printing.
  3. If using layers, save a flattened version for printing.
  4. Delete any alpha channels.
  5. Rotate image (if necessary) in Ps rather than have QTR driver do it.
  6. How much RAM in your system?
  7. How is printer connected to computer?

I saw in the other thread that the file in question printed about 90% and then stopped. But you don’t mention any specifics such as file size, image size and resolution, RGB or grayscale, 8- or 16-bit, layers or flattened, file format, print size and resolution, &c.

I think that file size limits are controlled by the system rather than by QTR or Print-Tool, and I’ve seen 2Gb mentioned but that may also depend on system resources.

About the resolution numbers in your 1st paragraph, I’m guessing that you are referring to print, not image, resolution, but I’m confused that you would want to print at 360 or even 720dpi. The results are not likely to be good. Print resolution should always be 1440 or higher. Image resolution of 720 if possible (or 360 if not) is desirable for QTR.

I admit this is not a problem I have ever encountered myself since I don’t print that big, so all of this is just stuff I’ve noted from other forum conversations. Hope you find the answer.


I have a pretty robust mac pro … 2x3.4 - 12 processors and 64mb’s ram. So the computer handles multi GB files. Right now I use a short 36" very, very high quality usb in the past I used ethernet. The file gets to the printer quicker than my older quad core mac pro with ethernet. I am printing on a 9880.

I have not heard the rotate image in photo-shop worth a try, but the image I am working does not need a rotation.

Printed files are flattened gray scale tif’s. My ideal is to print the image at 16bit, 720dpi at print size so yes I am referring to print size with resolution numbers. Just use standard - 2880, single pass settings for print tool.

The files I am working with are large enough where they can not be saved as a tif - bigger than 4gb. so I have to make a tif to print. I reduce them to the above specs for the file I print. Ideally I would like to be able to print any tiff.

The question I have is whether print tool has a limit on tif size, or print size.

There are lots of ways to reduce a file size, I try various things … i can see a degradation in image quality when I get in the 750 mb range where the printer works fine … files in the plus 1.2 GB range have the quality I want, but I am unable to get a complete image to print. Unfortunately I have enough paper for about 3 or 4 more tries and need 1 print for an exhibition in three weeks. So I can not fool around with this.

Incidentally - When I print the large files in the range of 1.2gb - 1.8gb - at 2880ppi on a small sheet paper/image they often print fine … when I then go to the 40" roll of paper at 720 … I have problems with the prints.

So my first question is - are there limits on print size and or file size built into print tool. And if there are limits what are they. ??

And the second part would be … helpful ideas like you offer here where I might be tripping up the system, especially if I should be able to print the large files.

Hey I know it is Christmas … so I am hoping some folks get bored with football and turkey and look at the forum. I imagine once I get by new years I will be feeling like I have to figure this out. thanks for taking the time to help me out – michael

I guess that rules out most of my ideas. :thinking:

The rotation thing would only be meaningful for images that are otherwise being rotated on-the-fly by QTR. If no rotation is occurring then it is irrelevant.

The one question that I can still think of that I don’t see an answer to in your comprehensive reply has to do with bit depth. Are those flattened 1.2Gb grayscale tif files that are still causing you problems 8- or 16-bit? If 16-bit, have you tried it at 8? Is there a visible quality loss?

I don’t recall any visible difference when I did some direct comparisons of 8-bit vs 16-bit printing a while back, but since my files are not that big to begin with — typically in the range of 300-400Mb for the raw 16-bit grayscale scans and less than 1Gb finished with layers — I have been able to keep them as 720ppi 16-bit grayscale tiffs with no problems. The largest I have printed anything in recent years is about 13x32, and mostly I am making digital negs at 8x20, so I’m not in the same league as you size-wise. Maybe there is a visible difference at the size you are working.

Is it just one particular file that you are having trouble with, or anything larger than 1.2Gb or thereabouts?

Searching through my email archive of the QTR forum, I see you asked a similar question back on July 8, 2011, but it don’t see that you got any response.

There is a thread from about 2 years ago where Roy says:

On the Mac side I have more control and info. Again its mostly dependent on system limits - hardware and software. There have been a couple cases where people went over the 2G limit of 32 bits and this caused some internal problems. But that is huge.

That is the most specific thing I can find about file size though I know I’ve seen more discussion of it somewhere.

Wish I had an answer. Hopefully someone will.


I did hear back from Roy Herrington, and I will post his insight. I think the long and short of this is right now Print tool does not have an inherent limitation for print size, but depending on your system you will run into problems with large prints. I will post with the information when I suss the maximum size for the print I am working on. From what I have found in the past under 600mb things are good, up to 1.2 mb prints are sometimes possible, but you might waste lots of paper before you hit on a solution, and you may not be able to print at all … somewhere around 1.8 to 2 mb the prints go black.

Most of the tricks to get a big prints with big files have to do with minimizing the size of the file … things like print in 8 bit and print with smaller dpi, and make sure you have no extraneous info like curves on the file. Since I only print my work I tend to optimize everything to push the quality of the print even if they take a long time to print. Keep in mind that when ever you resize a file the choices you make can degrade an image.

There may be some tricks that have to do with your system - Roy alludes to several of these possibilities … so please if anyone has ideas that I could use to print a large file … let me know.

Here is Roy’s reply to my query:

“”"Hi Michael

I’ve had some reports that really large files can be problematic. I think it happens in the

realm of a buffer around 2 Gigabytes. This is about 2^31 or the largest 32-bit number. Although

all the programs are 64-bit and should handle this, I think the single buffer that size causes trouble.

For an image you can approximate – color, 16 bit takes 8 bytes/pixel --> size = 8 * xpixels * ypixels.

Issue could be OS libraries, Page rendering, Color management, maybe even GPU hardware.

So given your sizes I’m not surprised if there is a problem. But there’s a few things that come to mind.

First is that you never need more that 720ppi for the image. Both QTR driver and Epson driver never

take more that 720ppi – Epson takes only 360ppi if you don’t have “finest detail” checked.

( you said 2880ppi in email but you might mean 2880dpi dots in the driver which is fine)

Frankly 720ppi is almost always overkill so if needed you might try less. Another significant factor

is 16-bit vs 8-bit. You really do want to do all processing at 16-bit (including color management) but

8-bit is just fine for final printing. I’d do everything in Photoshop including convert to print profile and

and then finally converting to 8-bit. (In Color Settings… you should have Use Dither for 8-bit ON).

I’d probably do any rotates as well so straight up printing works – i.e. no landscape mode.

If you can squeeze down to under 2G this way that’s probably the best.

I’ve been looking into chopping large images into pieces so the pieces are relatively small. The

potential problem is making sure there’s no weirdness at the junctions. My initial tests seem good

but a slight overlap might be good extra insurance. A little testing would be worthwhile before you

try the ultra large prints.

Let me know how this goes.


and my reply to roy


Thanks for the reply. …. it does remove one source for the problem. … that there is a limit built into print tool. I kind of hoped that, this was it because then you would get back to me and say … files have to be 1gb or smaller. … and I had a definitive parameter. In the real world these days. … it is usually multiple factors. So we each probably have different constrictions on image/print size in our system. What you list here would be beyond my pay grade to figure out if they are in play.

So far what I have found is that at some point the images go black with a large file. …. and that you can even see the black image in the little preview window the Mac generates for the printer. At about 1.8GB or smaller you can see the whole image. … and you can sometimes print a small print with the big file . … but getting a big print … to print is an anomaly, and there are several ways you can get bad prints. I fooled with this, this summer … again on deadline for an exhibiton and I could not get files from 1.08GB to 2.4GB to print big. I ended up going with a 605 MB file. …. it printed beautifully, I ran it on 8bit by mistake in the print tool setting … and it printed lighter. … but I liked the print so I went with it.

I’ll let you know. … how high I get with the max size, and no problems in my system …. I am hoping I can get it into 900 - 960MB

It sometimes takes. A fresh restart and working with a clean computer to avoid print gremlins and crashes …. My old Mac Pro would crash two or three times an evening when I worked on big files. … For those interested there are a lot of used powerful Mac Pro’s hitting eBay for a little more than 1k. … I just upgraded. … and the big file caused crash is now rare. So naturally I am fooling with bigger files.

I call them magic numbers. … but I have long noted that some dpi numbers. … work beautifully … and others, sometime ones only slightly off can show degradation. 180 240 360 480 720 … are what I like to print with. …. and yes. I mean dpi. I do slow my printers down and set them for max detail/interpolation. I am exploring whether I resize or whether I let the printer resize. … resizing is a bit of an art. … you have to look at the results. In waiting to see if I could get a reply. … before I burned my last paper. … I bought some topaz programs. …Ha amazing what they do with the monochrom files in terms of up sizing. … .

But there is also an art to down sizing. And doing small prints with digital files … I spent the summer working on a book. … and we wanted to make these very large files … into very small images. … and it was not until we were on press and willing to make some major changes that we figured it out. And the printing was amazing. … they were so good … I am trying to carry over what we did into making a large print composite of 15 of the pages. As always you gotta figure it out. If you are interested in seeing how beautiful and detailed black and white digital images can be in a book … it is “Perdido” MNMPress. …

Here is the image I was working with. … It is shot with a Leica monochrome. … and each of the two vert rectangle images. … is close to one shot with the camera. The master file is 9GB … I think I will have to wait for the technology to catch up … to print. I will probably breack it down into two smaller pieces to get the quality I want. …

But again. Want to thank you for making your RIP available. …… I’ll post your email on the Piezo site. …. seems I was the last one a few years ago to try and figure this out … but with stiching and bigger camera files …. Sooner or later folks will bump up against these limits.


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