How to Print in Black and White on a Mac

It's easier than you think

A person holding a printed page next to a printer.
TeroVesalainen/Pixabay

In a world filled with color, there are occasionally times when you want to print a document or photo in black and white. Your document or image doesn't need to be in black and white to print that way. You can print in black and white from your Mac as long as it is connected to a wired or wireless printer. If you anticipate doing this frequently, set up a preset for printing without color. When problems arise, troubleshoot them on the Mac, and you'll soon be back to printing.

Information in this article applies to Macs running macOS Catalina (10.15) through OS X Mavericks (10.9).

How to Print in Black and White on a Mac

Printing in black and white follows the same path as printing in color, but you specifically have to instruct your Mac to tell the printer to print in black ink only.

Most programs print in the same fundamental way. To print in black and white, use these basic steps.

  1. Open the document or image you plan to print.

  2. In the menu bar of the application you are using, click File.

  3. Find and select Print in the drop-down menu.

    Print screen in Microsoft Word
  4. Check the Black & White box if you see one or open the Presets menu and select Black and White. In some cases, you may have to toggle between Color and Black and White. (The exact location depends on the application you are printing from.)

    Print screen on a Mac
  5. Adjust the quantity and pages to print, if needed, and click Print.

You might encounter a different term than Black and White. Grayscale, Black, Black cartridge only, and Mono all refer to the same thing: black and white printing.

How to Create a Black and White Printing Preset

If you intend to print regularly in black and white, you can save yourself the hassle of fiddling with options every time you open the Print feature. Save a preset, which stores the particular settings you choose. You can quickly recall the preset when you print in the future.

Here's how you save a preset for black and white printing.

  1. Click File > Print from the menu bar and choose Black & White printing.

    Print screen on a Mac
  2. After you select the settings you want to use for black and white printing, click the Presets drop-down menu.

  3. Click Save Current Settings as Preset.

    Printer preset options
  4. Enter a name for your preset: B&W, for example. If the option appears, choose between saving the preset for All Printers or Only This Printer.

    Naming screen for printer preset on a Mac
  5. Click OK.

If you do most of your work in black and white, you can save money by printing from a monochrome printer that is designed to print solely in black and white.

How to Troubleshoot Printing in Black and White on a Mac

Even if you have a printer that you know can print without color, you might not see the option to print in black and white. In that case, one thing you can do to troubleshoot this problem (and many others) is to delete the printer using System Preferences and then set it up again on your Mac.

  1. Disconnect the printer from your Mac or turn it off if it's a wireless printer.

  2. Click the Apple menu at the top of the Mac screen and select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.

  3. Click Printers & Scanners.

    System Preferences on a Mac
  4. Select the printer you want to delete in the left pane.

  5. Click the Minus () symbol at the bottom of the printer pane, and confirm the action by clicking Delete Printer.

    Printers & Scanners preferences on a Mac
  6. Reconnect the printer to your Mac using its USB cable or boot it up as usual if it's a wireless printer.

In most cases, reconnecting your printer is sufficient for your Mac to recognize and add it. However, if problems occur, you may need to take other steps.

Additional troubleshooting steps include:

  • Download a software update from the printer manufacturer's website.
  • Connect your wireless printer to the Mac using a USB cable.
  • Return to the Printers & Scanners preferences window and click the Add (+) symbol to add your printer manually.
  • Reset the printer.