How to Print in Black and White on Mac

It's easier than you think

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

Your text document or image doesn't need to be in black and white in order to print it in black and white. This guide explains how to print in black and white on your Mac, and it also outlines how to set up your own preset for printing without color, and what to do in case of problems.

This article assumes you have a printer and that it can print in black and white.

How to Print in Black and White on Mac

Printing in black and white is basically the same as printing in color, but you specifically have to instruct your Mac to tell the printer to print this way.

Most programs print the same basic way and if your program is radically different, we'll assume you already know how to access its printing options. Here are the basic steps in order to print in black and white.

  1. In the menu bar, click File

  2. Find and select Print

    If you're using Google Chrome, you'll need to take one more step in between this and Step 3, choosing the Print using system Dialog option in the bottom-left corner of the window. Once you select that, the Mac's printing options are available to you.

    Print using system dialog menu in Chrome
  3. Check the Black & White box if you see it.

    Black & White checkbox in macOS print dialog
  4. Click Print

You might, however, not see a Black & White checkbox when you first open the Print screen (it's usually next to the Copies option). In such a case, you need to continue after Step 4 as described below (and as shown in the image above)

  1. Click the dropdown menu in the middle of the Print window and click Paper Type/Quality (this may be shown as Print Settings or Quality & Media depending on your printer or version of macOS)

  2. Click the Color Options subheading

  3. Click the Color dropdown menu and select Grayscale. If you've gone to Print Settings rather than Paper Type/Quality, you might see a Black option rather than one for Grayscale (don't worry, they're both for black and white printing)

  4. Click Print

That's it, although you should be prepared for the possibility that, depending on your printer or version of macOS, you might see a different term from either "Grayscale" or "Black." Other terms that can appear include "Black cartridge only" and "Mono," but regardless of their names they all refer to the same thing: black and white printing.

How to Print in Black and White on Mac: Presets

Presets

If you tend to print regularly in black and white, you can actually save yourself the hassle of fiddling with options every time you open the Print feature. This can be done by saving a preset, which stores the particular settings you've chosen, and which can be quickly recalled when printing in the future.

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

  1. Open Print and choose Black & White printing, as described in the section above

  2. Once you've selected the appropriate settings for black and white printing, click the Presets dropdown menu

  3. Click Save Current Settings as Preset

  4. Enter a name for your preset (e.g. 'Black and White'), and if the option appears, choose between saving the preset for All Printers or Only This Printer

  5. Click OK

How to Print in Black and White on Mac: Troubleshooting

There's a possibility that, 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 is delete the printer using System Preferences, and then set it up again on your Mac.

Printer Settings
  1. Making sure your printer is disconnected from your Mac (or turned off if it's a wi-fi or Bluetooth printer), go to System Preferences (it's under the Apple Menu)

  2. Click Printers & Scanners

  3. Click the printer you'd like to delete

  4. Click the Minus (–) symbol underneath the Printers column

  5. Click Delete Printer

  6. Reconnect your printer to your Mac using its USB cable (or boot it up as normal if it's a wi-fi or Bluetooth printer)

In most cases, simply reconnecting your printer should be sufficient to have your Mac re-recognize and add it. However, you may have to go through additional steps, such as downloading a new software update, or – if you have a wi-fi/Bluetooth printer – connecting it to your Mac using a USB cable. Additionally, you may need to go the Printers & Scanners window again and click the Add (+) symbol again to find your printer and add it.