Apr 16

Last month I described a bug in Apple Pages which caused Pages to place hidden color information in greyscale documents. This is fine if you are printing at home but if you take those documents to a commercial printer you will be charged at color copy rates instead of black and white. At our local Officeworks store this means paying 65 cents per page instead of 8 cents.

Today Apple support contacted me to say that they are very sorry but that this is not a bug. It is the way the software was designed. Apple Pages cannot print a greyscale document. It can only print in color. They suggested that I could put in a ‘feature request’ to request that Pages print in greyscale.

This is outrageous. Apple in its software clearly gives the impression that it is printing in greyscale. When users discover the extra costs they have been incurring this potentially opens Apple to litigation. The color selector tools in Pages are clearly misleading. Let me explain.

Selecting text color in Pages

Pages has a color tool to select text color. There are 4 options you can use to select text color. You can use a Greyscale slider, RGB sliders, CMYK sliders or HSB sliders.

You can select text color using 4 methods. One of them is a ‘greyscale’ slider.

Apple’s ‘Greyscale’ is not true greyscale – it contains color.

‘RGB’,’CMYK’ and ‘HSB’ allow to to select a color, but Pages also has an option to print in ‘greyscale.’ You may think that if you choose ‘greyscale’ you are getting a percentage of black, but you are not. You are getting a grey that has some blue or red added. While it may look like greyscale on the screen, when Pages prints it uses red or blue ink as well as black.

‘greyscale’ on Apple Pages in not true greyscale, it contains some hints of color

The problem with having some color in your greyscale is that if you take your document to a commercial printer it will be detected as a color page and cost 65 cents per page (color printing rates) instead of 8 cents.

Forcing true greyscale doesn’t work

The way to get around this greyscale problem should be to use the CYMK sliders to create a ‘true’ greyscale with no color information in it. This works in other software like Microsoft Word, but not in Pages.

Here’s where things get deceptive… If you use the CYMK sliders to force a true ‘greyscale’ Pages still prints in color!

The ‘CMYK’ sliders should allow you to select the exact proportions of ink that you would like to use. ‘C’ refers to the cyan ink that is printed on the page, ‘M’ refers to the magenta ink and ‘Y’ yo yellow. K refers to black.

To print in ‘true’ greyscale using only black toner you can set 0%C 0%Y and 0%M this should give a true greyscale with no color ink.

Pages ‘appears’ to give you the option to print in true greyscale with no color toner.

As you can see in this screenshot above, I have select to print using pure black ink. It ‘appears’ to be true greyscale, but it’s not! When this ‘greyscale’ text is printed Pages still inserts some color into the printed page. Even though I have chosen to use black ink only, Pages adds color ink without any indication that it is doing so.

The biggest problem here is not that you can’t print in black and white. The biggest problem is that Pages is giving you the impression that you are printing in black and white when in fact it is sending color information to the printer.

The biggest problem is that Pages is giving you the impression that you are printing in black and white when in reality it is sending color information to the printer.

If your workplace is using Apple pages and it prints any greyscale documents this will be costing them money. If a workplace is on a commercial printing plan where they pay different rates for color or black and white copies this will be costing them money. This is extremely hard to track down in a large organisation that has multiple users printing in both black and white and color and where the accounts are paid by the accounts department who don’t know which documents you are trying to print. So when the accounts department tell you to use less color to reduce printing costs, it may in fact be that you are not using color but Pages is turning your greyscale documents to color!

If your workplace is using Apple pages and it prints any greyscale documents at all this will be costing them money.

The worst part is that Apple is covering this problem up and failing to acknowledge the problem.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you think you may have been affected by this issue. And also feel free to make a ‘feature request’ to Apple about this. I guess the ‘feature’ you are asking for is that Apple don’t put color information in their greyscale, although I’m failing to see how this is a ‘feature’!

One Response to “Apple admits that Pages cannot print in greyscale.”

  1. Malby says:

    This is not impressive on Apple’s part. I would be curious to hear from old Mac hands about whether or not Clarisworks printed greyscale as a non colour document. If so it would add legitimacy to the argument that greyscale has always implied not using coloured toner or inks. This expectation is furthered by other programs like Word printing greyscale as a non colour document.

    Well researched Wayne.

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