8 Easy Ways To Cut Your Printing Costs And Make Life Easier – Which? news
The running costs of the printer can add up quickly – whether you need to regularly print documents like online return forms, print more when you work from home or help your kids with homework. To take the pressure off your bank balance, we’ve put together a few simple ways you can cut costs if you rely on your printer regularly.
Just playing around with your device’s settings can help you keep your ink cartridges a little longer. As well as updating your printer drivers, downloading the manufacturer’s app, and deciding which ink to buy.
Are you considering replacing your printer entirely? If so, be sure to consult our expert reviews. A printer under $ 40 can be a tempting purchase, but the long-term costs can add up quickly if you have to refill ink frequently – our lab tests have pinpointed printers that offer detailed prints while staying affordable.
Keep scrolling for our tips on saving printers.
Only affordable printers with low running costs make it into our expert roundup of the best affordable printers to buy and run.
1. Download the partner app for your printer
If your home printer supports wireless printing, it is worth reading the product manual and downloading the official partner app for your device.
Assuming you misplaced the manual, go to the Google Play Store on Android or the App Store on iOS and search for the brand name – for example, “HP” or “Canon”.
Partner apps can come in very handy as you can use them to control your printer and arrange print jobs from a smartphone or tablet on the same WiFi network. In most cases, you can also customize your prints so that you can adjust the orientation, paper size, or color.
Popular printing apps are:
- Canon Print Inkjet / Selphy (Android, iOS) – the official print and scan app for Canon Pixma, Maxify and Selphy printers. You can print PDF files and Microsoft Office documents, and customize your copy settings, which is useful if your printer doesn’t have its own built-in display.
- HP Smart (Android, iOS) – Print and scan photos and documents directly from a mobile phone. HP Smart also lets you check your ink levels and order replacement cartridges directly from the app.
- Samsung Mobile Print (Android) – allows you to print, scan, or fax wirelessly from your Android smartphone or tablet. You can share your scans directly with Google Drive if you want to keep them in the cloud.
- Epson iPrint (Android, iOS) – Print, scan and share documents without touching your printer. You can also take a picture with your smartphone and send that picture to your printer remotely.
If you decide to use a partner app on your phone, make sure it is up to date. Make sure you are using the latest version of the app to protect you from bugs.
2. Use third-party ink
Your printer manufacturer’s branded ink can cost up to five times as much as third-party ink, so you can make huge savings by switching.
Some third-party inks are rated higher by their customers than other brands. So, before you buy, check out our best research on cheap ink cartridges.
3. Print on both sides of the page
This is a simple adjustment you can make in Settings, but it can potentially make a huge difference in your running costs and save you from working through the paper faster than you want.
You may need to enable this feature manually, but some printers have automatic two-sided printing. If you regularly print long documents, it is worth paying a little more for a printer with this feature.
4. Printer empty? The workaround is to print text in color
If you try to print out an email and get the frustrating message, “This printer is out of ink,” there may be a way to work around the problem.
Copy the text you want to print into a document – for example, Google Docs or Microsoft Word. Once that’s sorted, highlight the text in your document and change it from black to a color before printing. For example, if your printer is out of black ink but has something left in the color cartridge, you can print the text in red.
Note, however, that not all printers will do this – some will not print at all when the black ink runs out.
5. Repair poor quality prints
If your printouts are damaged by white lines or smudges, there is a good chance the printhead is clogged. To return to pristine printing, you need to run the printer’s cleaning program.
The exact steps you need to take depend on the type of printer you are using. But most of the time, you’ll have to go to “Device Settings” on your computer and follow the on-screen instructions.
For example, if you are using an Epson printer, you can use the head cleaning utility in Windows by following these steps:
- Open that devices and printer Menu
- Right-click the icon for your printer and select Print settings
- In the Printing Preferences window, click the button maintenance tab
- Choose Head cleaning, then click begin
If only certain colors produce strange results, replace the associated ink cartridge. You should also check the inside of the cartridge door for leaks – wipe off any spills with a cloth or cotton swab.
6. Update your drivers
Printer drivers essentially allow your printer to communicate with your PC, which is why keeping them updated is so important. In fact, older printer drivers can contain bugs that simply update them to fix for good.
If you are not sure if your printer is running with the latest drivers, here are some steps to check:
- to open Device manager on your pc
- Find your printer under the printer Subheading
- Right click on your printer and select Update driver
- Click on Automatically check for updated driver software
For more advice on drivers, see our how-to page at Update your printer drivers.
7. Try refillable ink tanks
Refilling your empty ink cartridges manually is cheaper than buying a brand new one from your printer manufacturer.
If you want to try it out, you’ll need to order an ink refill kit. Most of these come with printer ink, plastic gloves, a syringe, a rubber stopper, and some small drill bits to make holes in the cartridge. Once you have everything you need, there are four easy steps to getting the job done.
- Prepare your work area Put some paper towels on a flat surface in case you spill some ink. You should also wear gloves to keep the ink from staining your hands.
- Make a hole in your empty ink cartridge Identify the top of the ink cartridge – it usually has a sticky label on it. Pull that back and use your drill bit to make a hole. Some ink cartridges already have a hole that you can use.
- Inject ink into the cartridge Take your syringe and draw some ink out of the container. Slowly insert the syringe into the cartridge and release the ink. If you notice bubbles, the cartridge is likely full.
- Clean the print head TThis is usually located on the underside of the ink cartridge. Wipe it gently as this is the part of the printer that will come into contact with the paper.
If you’re more of a visual learner, follow our step-by-step video by visiting our guide on How to refill your printer ink cartridges.
8. Choose the correct printer paper
Make sure you are using the correct printer paper before lining up your photo print jobs. Printing on the wrong paper can cause ink to spill over the page, which is not good if you want to display this image at home.
There are several types of photo paper that are commonly referred to as Basic, Daily, and Premium. The weight of each option is slightly different – premium paper is much denser and therefore less prone to curling.
You should also consider the paper finish. Most of the time you have the choice between glossy or matte.
If you have lots of valuable photos to print at once, you can potentially save money by using an online service. See our expert guide to see how we rate your options the best online photo printing services.
Which? Expert reviews reveal printers that are cheap to run
From practical work with hundreds of printers in the Which? Test lab we found that some inkjet models waste a lot of ink during cleaning cycles. Unfortunately, this means that you end up having to order expensive new cartridges much more frequently than you expected.
Which? Running Best Buy printers won’t cost you a fortune. Also, to sweeten business, they are easy to use and in some cases offer support for mobile printing. On the other hand, our dreaded Don’t Buy printers are disappointed with the overwhelming print quality.
Choose a printer that has passed our rigorous laboratory tests. To save you some money, we have these best cheap printers to buy and operate.