Money Wise

Save on Printer Ink

Most people know that manufacturers sell printers cheap because printer INK is so darn profitable. If sold by the gallon, printer ink would cost $10,000 or more!

There have even been lawsuits and allegations that printer companies unfairly prevent competition with tactics such as:

  • Bribery (hey Staples, here’s $100 mil for you to not sell any third-party inexpensive ink alternatives…)
  • Use of patents and the Copyright Act.
  • Use of microchips embedded in ink cartridges that block “unauthorized” ink.
  • “Helpful” hints built into the software that warn you to replace your ink cartridge when there’s still plenty of ink remaining.

On that last point, who out there hasn’t ignored the “ink supply low” warning – only to go on and print another thousand pages? Some studies have shown that you could be tossing out 20% of your ink each time you listen to these helpful hints.

What a racket!  So, here’s what I do to save money on printer ink.

Print Less

The easiest way to reduce spending on ink is to reduce the amount you print.  A no-brainer here.  If you have a choice of font, Century Gothic uses the least amount ink of the standard font types.  However, it’s a bit wider and could use more paper.

Electronic Library

Save as PDF {Mac}

If you want to keep a document for reference, consider saving it as a PDF file instead of printing it.  All Mac computers have this feature standard. In any print menu simply choose “Save as PDF” as the destination and then click “Save”.

On a PC, to convert a Word document use DOCtoPDF (free, nothing to install). For a web page, use  It’s fast, free, and nothing to install – simply copy and paste the URL (web address) of the page you want to convert, click, and it downloads the PDF file to your computer.  Even easier, add their bookmarket into your toolbar for one-click functionality.

Ink Cartridge Refill

Why buy new when you can refill your existing ink cartridges, saving money and helping the environment at the same time? At my local Cartridge World, I drop off my empty cartridges and walk out with a full set for $44.50. At Staples the same items cost over $75 – I save money and keep trash out of the landfill. Cartridge World keeps most consumer printer cartridges in stock; if yours isn’t, you can wait about 20 minutes while they refill or throw in $3 for delivery to your house. Small businesses with an order over $200 get free pick-up and delivery.  With 1700 retail locations there’s bound to be one near you.

Use the Printliminator

OK, I really want to print something.  This handy little bookmarket tool lets me clean up a web page before sending it to the printer.  I use this all the time!  Let’s say I want to print out the page below.  The site doesn’t offer a “printer-friendly” version of the page.  Colors and graphics drain my ink supply.  What to do?

Print page – BEFORE

Using Printliminator, I can mouse over areas on the page to select only what I want to print, or select areas that I want to remove.  Now I have a page that looks like this.  It used less ink and is easier to read besides. (Just as boring however.)

Print page – AFTER

Printliminator is a free tool that should work with any browser and is available here.

Happy (not) printing!


  1. Betsy McConnell

    03/11/2011 at 2:33 pm

    I just tried Printliminator, it is the easiest way to get printer friendly documents! I used to just cut and paste to word (which took forever) now using printliminator it is much quicker and easier! Thanks for the tip:)

  2. Samantha

    03/13/2011 at 5:26 am

    Glad you like this tip, Betsy! I use Printliminator all the time.

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