Save Ink (and Money) When You Print

By  |  Friday, August 14, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Steve Bass's TechBiteAre you replacing printer cartridges faster than Citibank is raising credit card interest rates? Aggravating, and no surprise–inkjets have a voracious appetite.

Have a glass of warm milk and relax — I have a few solutions that can make you happy.
The biggest waste of inkjet cartridges is printing in color when good old black and white will do.

I say to you: Turn off the color. Yep, it’s that simple. Unless color is crucial for your document, you’re wasting ink if you output in color. Try this experiment: Print a color page, then print it again in gray scale. To do this, go to Start, Settings, Printers and right-click on the printer’s icon. Go to Properties and find the tab that lets you change from color to gray scale. Save the settings, then print the page again.

Here’s my trick: Create two drivers for the same printer–one set to monochrome, the other to, of course, color. When I’m ready to print and absolutely have to do it in color, I pick the “color” printer from the program’s File, Print menu. It’s a heck of a lot easier to switch between the two drivers when printing rather than fiddling with the driver’s settings each time I print.

I know what you’re thinking. (You may not realize I read minds.) Some inkjets need every color of the rainbow to print black. I think it’s because inkjet manufacturers want you to buy more cartridges. Some printer experts say this occurs only when your printer is set for printing photos, and it doesn’t matter a bit if you’re printing run-of-the-mill Word docs and Web sites. I say experiment and see how your printer does.

Money-Saving Draft Picks
You can extend the life of any printer cartridge, monochrome and color laser printers included, by printing in draft mode.

Try it: From the Start menu, click on Settings, Control Panel, Printers and Faxes, select your printer, then right-click Properties. Choose the Device Options tab and click Print Quality, select the lowest quality, and exit the menus. Then print something.

The print and graphic quality will be a little less sharp and colors might not be as bright. But hey, it’s okay for most of the day-to-day stuff you print — and you’ll save some ink.

If you’re following me so far, you may have a new printer driver — for monochrome printing only. Now I’ll suggest you create another two: one for draft mode, the other for high-quality printing.

It’s easy enough: As you did earlier, open the Control Panel’s Printers and Faxes, and repeat the process to install another copy of the printer driver. Save the one set for draft mode as “draft” and set the next one’s print quality to a higher level. (Name this one “high quality” or, more aptly, “money waster.”) When you need high-quality prints, choose File, Print and select that printer from the drop-down menu.

Zap Ads and Images

You’re wasting ink — and money — if you’re printing Web pages with big images and ads just to read text. (Ironic that this is the first time the TechBite newsletter has an ad, no?)

About the easiest trick is using an option built into your browser’s printing option. First select and highlight the text you want to print. Then choose File, Print, and click Selection in the Print Range section of the Print dialog box.

Easy, no? But not always perfect. That’s because occasionally you’ll still scrape stuff off the page that you don’t need.

You might try GreenPrint World, a printing utility that automatically removes wasteful pages. For instance, GreenPrint World gets rid of the last page of your print job if it has nothing except headers and footers; and it won’t print pages with small amounts of text, or totally blank pages. The tool is free (it’s ad-based), and it lets you print from any application, including, of course, Web browsers. The latest version, 2.0, lets you easily remove specific text or graphics from the page, or create a PDF.

Green Print World

Also valuable is HP Smart Web Printing Software, a freebie that lets you grab selected text and graphics from Web pages, save them to a document, and then print your customized pages. HP Smart isn’t always too bright, so on some pages you’ll need to fiddle a little to print a good-looking document. The tool works with IE8, but it isn’t yet compatible with the current version of Firefox.

My favorite printing tool, though, is PrintWhatYouLike, an comprehensive online editing tool that lets me block out items on a Web page that I don’t want to print. It takes about a dozen tries to get the knack, but once you do, you’ll agree it’s indispensable.

Finally, a low-tech money saver: Print rough drafts on the blank side of used paper. Except for when I’ve forgotten to remove a staple (duh!), I’ve never damaged a laser or an ink jet printer. I also throw my doubly used paper into the curbside recycling bin.

[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Dave Barnes Says:

    1. Firefox + Adblock Plus.
    2. Use a LASER printer instead of Inkjet.
    3. Print to PDF and not to paper.

  2. Dave Barnes Says:

    And, by the way.
    Steve Bass’ Techbite, not Steve Bass’s Techbite.

  3. Harry McCracken Says:

    @Dave: All good tips, but PC World’s copy editors would disagree with “Bass'”–Steve had columns there called “Steve Bass’s Tips and Tweaks” and “Steve Bass’s Hassle-Free PC.” It’s a subject of legitimate grammatical debate…


  4. B Says:

    Would anyone know how much a PVC printer may cost. I own my own print company.
    Business Card, Flyer, Brochures, Post card and more.
    Please let me know.

  5. printer cartridge supplies Says:

    I love printing pictures using colored inks without realizing that the cost is really expensive especially doing it thrice a week. A helpful post is really appreciated especially if its about tips on how to save.

  6. printercartridgesupplies Says:

    Its good to hear helpful tips like this and can help save more money.

    Keep on posting tips like this!

  7. Ink Optimizer Says:

    I use PretonSaver, software solution that save me ink and toner every time I print. Saves me over $100 a year. Provides great print quality.
    No need to play with the printer settings as you can decide on the level of savings.
    No need to play with the browser settings – you can choose to print text only.
    And, very cool technology .
    Check it out. go to Half The Ink web site ( )for more information and to download a free trial

2 Trackbacks For This Post

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    […] by Happypixel on August 15th, 2009 at 06:32pm Save Ink (and Money) When You print | Technologizer Try this experiment: print a color page, then print it again in gray scale. To do this, go to […]

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