Stan's Chrome-Plated Tech Tips

Monday, April 30, 2012


Go Green by Going Gray - the best way to save on Printer Ink

We all want to save the environment right?  It's a good thing I've been told, and I'm inclined to agree.  So with Earth Day recently reminding me how Al Gore made this entire blog possible, I thought I'd return the favor and share a little trick I like to use to save some on ink.

Now working in the computer repair industry in Los Angeles, we get a lot of calls for printer repair.  The unfortunate reality these days is it's generally much more cost effective to simple replace a printer than try to repair it.  Sometimes it's cheaper to replace the thing than to buy new ink for it!  Generally the printer companies (HP, cough cough) sell the things at a loss with lower capacity ink cartridges to make the high-margin profits selling you lots and lots of ink down the road.  But fear not dear reader, I'm about to show you a little used, but totally easy trick to save a few bucks on ink.

The way most modern inkjet and even laser printers work is they've got multiple cartridges for the various colors they use.  The black ones usually are lower priced, higher capacity, and don't go as quickly as the color ones.  So we'll focus on that.  Oftentimes, even the simplest documents end up having just a tiny bit of color in them, forcing your printer to use all of it's color cartridges.  Not only does this make printing slower, but it eats into those color cartridges that much quicker.  By defaulting to black and white or grayscale as most printers call it, you'll only use that black ink.  So how do you do it?  Well this varies by operating system, but it works on Mac or Windows, and it's so simple you probably should've thought of it yourself.

All you've got to do is add another copy of your printer.  I'll show you how it goes in Windows 7.

First open the printers dialog and add a printer.  Now you're just going to re-add your existing printer, like so:

Save the printer and name it something that'll remind you this is the printer you'll be using exclusively in black and white.  Something like this:

After that's all set up, go into the printer properties and set it to print grayscale by default:

Now you can set the Grayscale copy of your printer to be the default or you can select it each time you'd like to print in black and white.  In either case, this way makes it far easier to save on ink and more convenient to avoid printing in color when you really don't want it.  It's what we in the biz like to call a win-win-win.

So go forth and print in black and white (if you must).  It's good for you.  Good for your wallet.  Good for the environment.  It's good for America!

As Always,

I'm not a Geek.  I'm you're friend.  And I'm here to help.

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