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See if your printer supports something called a "draft mode" and if you can use that when you print.

I use a lot of ink printing off information, which I have to have hard copies and seem to use a lot of black, which is becoming rather expensive. I know you can change document's typeface color in Word to say "blue" but can you change the color of the typeface of a document that I've had to download from another source? I've no idea how many sheets I get for one ink cartridge. Our printer is an HP Photosmart and I use a Dell laptop. Some suggestions would be most welcome.

In this excerpt from Answercast #68, I look at some ways to save ink when printing lots of documents.

Expensive printing

Unfortunately, the answer is typically no unless the document is something that you can actually edit; in other words, if it's a Word document that you can throw into Word and change the font color, or if it's a PDF that happens to be editable and you have PDF-editing tools.

It basically boils down to no unless you've got those options. There really isn't a way to change the printed typeface color.

Draft mode

Now, on the other hand, there are a couple of other alternatives that come to mind. One is that printers will often have what they call a "draft mode." I don't know if your printer does.

Draft mode is specifically somewhat less sharp and clear. It depends on what the printer manufacturer happens to call "draft mode." In general, one of the common themes of draft mode (when it exists) is that it does in fact use less ink.

So that would be one thing to look into. See if your printer supports something called a draft mode and if you can use that when you print.

Print to PDF

The other? I realize you said you needed a hard copy. But in all honesty, my take on 'hard copy' is that (I'd say) maybe three-quarters of the time, when we think we need a hard copy, we don't.

What I recommend considering at least instead is to print-to-PDF and save the PDFs.

That way, you're not printing at all. You're saving 100% of your ink and also 100% of your paper. I realize that sometimes there really is a need for a hard copy, but I would at least encourage you to consider moving slightly more paperless and seeing if perhaps you can get away without some of the printing that you're doing.

Article C6009 - November 8, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?


Douglas Harding
November 9, 2012 8:44 AM

I switched to an inexpensive laser printer (under a $100) for all my b/w needs. Toner lasts a lot longer than ink and I get better quality prints.

November 9, 2012 10:06 AM

I am willing to bet that the blue ink cartridge will cost you more per page than a black cartridge anyway. Black cartridges tend to cost more than color ones because they tend to have more ink in them.

Ron Barker
November 9, 2012 10:51 AM

You should be able to find 'Draft Mode' or in my case 'EconMode' under printing preferences. It does save a lot of ink, but you would be better as suggested above getting a laserjet printer.

November 9, 2012 12:54 PM

I agree with Douglas. If you really do need to print that much, then you should be looking at a laser printer. You can still keep your photo printer for printing in colour and photos.

I purchase a generic toner cartridge from a small computer shop. They sell it for about $60 including the tax. The last one I bought lasted 4500 pages. Compared to Staples price of $170 for toner that lasts 6800 pages. It's still half the price of Staples on a cents per page basis. And I don't notice any quality difference.

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