Digital Crave

7 easy ways to preserve your printer ink

Marc Saltzman
Digital Crave

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save money printer ink

Isn't it funny you can pick up a wireless all-in-one printer for about $50 these days, but replacing color and black ink for it could set you back the same amount?

Hmm, or is that sad?

Perhaps it's the old "razor and blade" analogy -- these companies practically give away the hardware because they know you must buy ink over the years.

Well, here are a couple of random tips to prevent your ink -- and wallet -- from running dry.

Don't DIY: If you're looking to print a couple of dozen photos, drop off your memory card at a photo mat (like we used to do with film), use one of those kiosks at the mall or better yet, email your photos to one of those services that prints them and sends them to your door. In most cases, it's only a few cents per image so don't print off bulk photos at home or else it will cost an arm and a leg.

Be selective: Similarly, try to practice "selective printing" -- really try to decide what you want in paper form and what you can live with just on your computer. If you look through your photo album, you'll probably realize you didn't need to print off every one. Only pick the best of the best for your photo album or wallet. The rest you can email, upload to Facebook, save as wallpaper or do fun things like create jigsaw puzzle games with them (check out download.com).

Don't skimp out: Stick with brand name ink. While it will cost more than the no-name ink, it will last longer and your photos will last longer too. Plus, cheap ink has been known to dry directly on the printer heads which can cause performance problems. Some people buy those ink refill kits but they're not for everyone (they take time and can be messy).

O2 is bad: Replacement cartridges for ink are a good idea to keep on hand but make sure they're in a sealed container or "zip-lock" bag so no air can prematurely dry it up.

Web tip: If you're printing an article from a website, look for the "Print" button on the page as it will reduce the amount of graphics and banner advertising around the article itself.

Preview your print job; go grey: Before you print a photo, document or from a website, select "Print Preview" from the File tab to see what it will look like when printed so that you can catch mistakes before wasting ink. You can also choose to print websites in greyscale only, if your color cartridge is running dry.

Smart software: Finally, Ecofont ($25) is a collection of popular font styles – such as Arial, Verdana, Calibri, Trebuchet and Times New Roman – but each of them are perforated. Yep, they have little punch holes in the letters, numbers and symbols. Therefore, when printed, they can save you ink or toner, says the Netherlands-based company. For example, the Ecofont version of Arial can save 26 percent when compared to the original Arial. These Ecofonts are virtually indistinguishable to the naked eye from regular fonts on the computer screen and paper.

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