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Getting More Out of Your Empty Ink Cartridge

Unless you are one that does full multi-color print jobs every day, then you will probably find that one of the inkjet cartridges runs out before the others. You can still print from the remaining three cartridges (or 4, or 5 depending on your cartridge bay), however it is not necessarily easy convincing your printer to work like it should. As the printer ink industry is a business, the makers of ink would like you to buy ink as soon as a cartridge wears out. If you would like to try to print here are some strategies that can work.

  • Is the cartridge really empty? - As with gas and a car, your printer will notify you when it believes the ink level is low, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it will no longer print. Even just a little ink can still yield text or graphics on a page. It should be noted that with a two-cartridge system where one cartridge is black and the other tri-color, color prints will continue even if one of the three colors run out, it changes the colors that cartridge can produce.
  • Find the problem cartridge - With a four cartridge system, you can more easily tell which cartridge is the empty one. Your printer should automatically indicate it either by a message from it's software, an indicator (like a light) on the control panel of your printer, or if your printer has an LCD display, a message can appear there. It all depends on the make and model of your printer, and by and large, it will be the color ink that goes first. Those cartridges usually have a different page yield than black ones. That said however, you should never remove the guilty culprit. Your printer will not work if it has nothing in one of the cartridge bays.
  • Change your printer settings - If it is indeed a color cartridge that has expired, you can change your settings so it will still print. From Control Panel in Windows, you can select "Printers and Faxes". Then select the printer that is giving you trouble. Right-click once on the icon and it should bring up a menu. Select Properties, and you can set the printer to always print in Draft or Fast Normal mode. In there, you can also change the color settings from color to grayscale. You could do this each time you print as well from the print dialog box with the box marked "Properties" if it is easier for you.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile