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

9 tricks to save ink and help your wallet

Inkjet printers are used in homes, offices, and home offices and are an indispensable part of everyday life. Printer ink cartridges are costly and tend to run out of ink at inopportune times. If you want to extend the life of your inkjet printer cartridges, we gathered a list of tips and tricks designed to keep the ink flowing longer, saving you time and money.

Inkjet cartridges have a small computer chip that monitors ink level. It alerts you when ink is getting low. In some cartridges, you can reset this chip for a more accurate ink assessment.

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Ignore Out-of-Ink Warnings

Printer ink cartridges

Your printer will usually alert you with a warning that the ink cartridges are getting low on ink. Instead of rushing out to buy new cartridges, ignore this warning for a while. In a lab test, PC World found that ink cartridges contain anywhere from 8 to 45 percent of their ink when this message appears.

In the settings area of many printers, it's possible to disable low-ink warnings.

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Avoid Chunky Fonts and Bolds

Times New Roman fonts that save printer ink


Thick fonts and bolded text require extra ink to print, so skinny up your text and save. Try ink-sipping fonts instead, such as Calibri and Times New Roman.

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

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Use a Smaller Font Size

Smaller font sizes save printer ink

What's the difference between a 12-point font and a 14-point font? These fonts are different sizes and use different amounts of ink. Use smaller-sized text and size up only when necessary, for example, in headlines.

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Proof Before You Print

Co-workers proofing a document before they print it to save printer ink
Maguey Images / Getty Images

Before you print a document, take extra time to edit and proof your work carefully. All too often, we print documents, find mistakes, and then print the document again. The fewer times you print a document, the more ink you'll save.

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Tweak Your Printer Settings

Person setting printer settings on a printer to save printer ink

skynesher / Getty Images

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

Consider setting the print quality to draft mode, setting the color to print in grayscale, and setting document options to print multiple pages per sheet.

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Print Just What You Need

Print What You Like saves printer ink

If you need to print an article or recipe from a website and don't want to print ads and photos, there's an easy way. The website Print What You Like lets you print a page without any ink-hogging extras. Enter the URL, and the free service creates a clean, printable document that saves on ink.

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Use Print Preview

A parent seated with a baby on their lap, looking at a Print Preview of a document to save printer ink
Mint Images / Getty Images

Have you ever printed something from the web, only to find that it didn't fit the page? It's a waste of ink, paper, and time. This is an easy problem to avoid. Select Print Preview before sending anything to the printer to correct any issues before printing the document on paper.

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Check for Clogged Nozzles or Printheads

Ink cartridges in an inkjet printer ready to be cleaned

André Karwath / Creative Commons

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

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Choose Save Instead of Print or Print to PDF

Save a document instead of printing it to save on printer ink.

If a digital record is all you need, consider printing to PDF or saving the file to your hard drive. If you make hard-copy printouts only when necessary, you'll save on printer ink and keep your workspace uncluttered.

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