Extend the Life of Your Printer Ink Cartridge With These Easy Tips

9 tricks to save ink and help your wallet

Assortment of small Ink printer Cartridges to Recycle
cstar55 / Getty Images

Home printers are an absolute necessity to print documents and photos. You just can't survive in the 21st century without one. But the bane of every owner is printer ink cartridges, which always seem to run out of ink or dry up at the most inopportune time. Plus ink cartridges are expensive. If you're tired of shelling out for printer cartridges, get acquainted with these simple tricks, and your ink cartridge will last longer. That means less hassle and less expense for you.​​

Ignore Out-of-Ink Warnings

printer ink cartridges

 Erin Huffstetler

Getting a warning that your printer is out of ink? Go ahead and ignore it. In a lab test, PC World found that ink cartridges still contained anywhere from 8 to 45 percent of their ink when this message started to pop up.

Avoid Chunky Fonts and Bolds

Thick fonts and bolded text require extra ink to print, so skinny up your text and save. Some ink-sipping fonts to try: Arial and new courier.

Want to save even more? Download Ecofont, a free font that uses 20 percent less ink by placing small white circles within each character.

Use a Smaller Font Size

What's the difference between a 12-point font and a 14-point font? Size, certainly, but also the amount of ink used--so super-size only when you need to.

Proof Before You Print

Give your documents an extra read through before you print them out, and you might save yourself a reprint.

Tweak Your Printer Settings

Printers are factory set to be ink guzzlers, but that's easy enough to change. To update your printer's default settings on a Windows-based computer, click start > printers > right click on your printer and select printer preferences.

Some changes worth considering:

  • Set the print quality to "draft"
  • Set the color to "print in grayscale"
  • Set the "document options" to print multiple pages per sheet

Print Just What You Need

If you need to print an article or recipe off of a website, but you're not interested in printing all of the ads and photos that go with it, just go to printwhatyoulike.com insert the URL for the page; and you can delete all those ink-hogging extras with just a few clicks.

Use Print Preview

Have you ever printed something from the web only to find that it didn't fit the page? What a waste of ink, paper, and time. Fortunately, this is one problem that can be avoided: Just hit "print preview" before you send anything to print, and you'll be able to catch and correct any issues before they make it onto paper.

Check for Clogs

Has your cartridge stopped printing properly? Before you toss it, make sure a clogged nozzle isn't the culprit. To do so, simply remove the cartridge from the printer and wipe the bottom with a damp paper towel. Then reinstall it and try printing again.

Hit Save Instead of Print

Would a digital record work just as well as a printed one? If so, save the file to your hard drive or flash drive and forgo the printing process entirely.