Ink-saving tips

Carlisle School - Printing Shop (LOC)
Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

Even though our customers are already saving money buy shopping at CW San Diego for their ink and toner needs, there’s always more we all could be doing to reduce our use of ink and toner. Every so often we like to share tips and tricks we come across that help us do that. offers these suggestions:

Print only what you need. Don’t print a whole book, if you’re only interested in a few paragraphs. Don’t print the graphics, if you’re only interested in the text and vice versa.

If you’re printing a piece of text for proofreading, you may not need to print the pictures. In Word you can make use of the print option “draft output”, which prints a fast and low-quality draft copy without images. Go to >file >print. This will open the print menu. In the bottom left click >options and check >draft output. Then go ahead and select the printer. But make sure it’s fine tuned according to the tips listed below.

The right settings are essential and will save you the most when done right. Instead of manually choosing “low quality” settings for each print job (i.e. all the time), you should make “low quality” the default. Hence you’ll have to make “high quality” settings manually, which will make you choose them only when required (i.e. rarely).

First of all, take note of the layout options you have. You may be able to print several pages on a single piece of paper or you may be able to print on both sides of a paper. Both options can save a ton of ink/toner and even paper. Please remember that if you change settings here, every print job will be printed like this per default. So keep in mind the options you have here for those special cases.

On some printers you can reduce the graphic resolution. This option is usually found under >advanced settings. 300 dpi (dots per inch) are usually sufficient for most purposes. Besides, regular paper can’t handle very high resolutions anyways. So applying a high resolution only makes sense when you’re using high quality photo paper.

In general, inkjet printers require a steady stream of electricity. Now if you completely disconnect your inkjet printer from electricity, for example by using a power strip that can be switched off, the printer will go through a cleaning cycle once electricity is back. If repeated on a daily basis, this procedure not only costs energy, but also tons of ink.

To save energy, turn your printer on only when you need it! And to keep the ink from drying out, turn the printer off manually. Don’t use the power strip! Using the manual on/off button activates a program and the printer will properly “park” the ink cartridges. In the park position the ink is protected from drying out quickly. (Read all their tips at

5 Start Support offers a few less common, general purpose tips:

Ensure that the tape that seals the cartridge ink port is removed prior to installing the cartridge.

Use the printer’s own self-test, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. If it fails, you have verified that the problem is within the printer. If the print head is not moving at all, the transport motor may have failed.

If the printer that you are using is not set as the default printer in Windows or the printer driver is not installed, the printer may print garbled characters. You may also receive errors when you attempt to print from applications.

If the printer passes the self-test, try a test print using the Print Screen capability within DOS. If the Print Screen fails, you know the problem is in the relationship between the printer and the computer. Inspect the cable and the cable connections. Replacing the cable with a known good cable is worth trying since cables are so frequently the source of printer problems. Cables can fail with broken wires, loose or broken pins, or incorrect pin-outs.

The message “out of paper” is sometimes erroneously reported when there is plenty of paper, and can indicate a physical problem with the printer.

If the printer port is not properly identified in CMOS, the printer may not function properly and you may receive errors when trying to print. Check your User’s Guide on how to enter CMOS. Once in the Setup utility, locate the LPT1 settings. The address setting for the LPT1 port should be 3BCh or 378h depending on what kind of video card you have. The IRQ setting for the port should be 7 and LPT1 should be enabled in order for the printer to print correctly. (More tips at

That last tip is especially relevant if you are using a parallel-port cable to connect your printer to your computer. USB and Firewire connected printers should be recognized by the operating system without making you dig through your IRQ settings.

And that tip about removing the tape from the cartridge print head? We must get at least one call a week on that exact topic. It’s an easy mistake to make if you’re in a hurry or not used to installing cartridges.

Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to pass along to our readers? Please include them in a comment to this article or email us at CW San Diego.

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