Black And White Print Without Color Ink

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Updated February 13, 2023

If you’re trying to learn how to make a black-and-white print without color ink, then you’ve come to the right place. This article explains the process behind making your top-rated printer work even when all you have is a black ink cartridge. Keep reading to learn this simple process.


  • Printing in black and white is possible without color ink, but only on select printers.
  • Switching to a grayscale mode in printer preferences is easy to print without color ink.
  • Buying a black-and-white-only printer is more cost-effective if you print mostly in black and white.

Everything You Need to Know about Printing Without Color Ink

Most color printers use a combination of color and black ink to create vibrant, crisp prints. So, if you want more info about what colors do printers use, our guide can help you out.

However, you may run into a problem when one of your color ink cartridges runs out. Many printers will stop printing entirely if one of their ink cartridges is dry. So, what do you do if your color ink is out, but you only want to print in black and white? Luckily, a hack works for many printers, detailed below. Other than printing in color, you can print a poster-sized image using a regular printer from home using tiled printing settings.

A Quick Word of Warning

Before using this printer hack to force your printer into using solely black ink, remember this quick word of warning. Many printers require the use of both color and black ink to work correctly. An example is the best portable photo printer, which typically will require color to print the best pictures. Or, one of the best envelope printers that primarily use black ink. You may risk permanently damaging your printer if you don’t use color and black ink.


Follow these steps to print using only black ink:

STEP 1 Change Printer Preferences in Windows

If you’re using a computer with a Windows operating system, you can change printer settings directly from the Printing Preferences menu. Click start and navigate to the Printers and Devices. Right-click your printer and select printing preferences. Then, click on the Grayscale button in the advanced tab to enable black-and-white-only printing.

STEP 2 Change Printer Preferences in macOS

If you’re using a computer with a macOS operating system, you can change printer settings directly from the Print Settings menu in the Print dialog box. Initiate your print and open Print Settings in the Print dialog box that appears. Then, select the Grayscale option in the Color/Grayscale dropdown menu.

STEP 3If This Hack Doesn’t Work

If this simple hack doesn’t work in freeing your printer to print without color ink, you may be out of luck. Many modern printers are designed to stay locked down until full ink cartridges are installed. If you find yourself needing to print in black and white more than in color, you may benefit from purchasing a black-and-white-only printer. This also includes the best receipt printer, which many models print only in black and white. You can learn more about these types of printers with our article on what is a monochrome laser printer. Then you can check out our Lexmark B2236DW review for an example of a monochrome laser printer.

Additionally, If you are unsure whether your wireless connection is secure, use a USB cable to queue printing jobs in your printer from your phone or computer. Additionally, if you are going to print more specialty-type projects like half-letter-size documents, be sure your printer can print borderless to ensure the best results.

And, if you’re just fed up with your current printer’s ink limitations, why not buy a new one? You can start by reading our Brother MFC-J805 review.


Why are my color ink cartridges empty when I typically print in black and white?

Many printers will use a combination of black and color ink to decrease the amount of grain that ends up on the paper. Many printers also use ink from all the cartridges for routine maintenance and to prevent clogging issues on the printhead.

Why does my printer need color ink to print black?

Most manufacturers state that their printers require both color and black ink to create smoother-looking prints without grain. Having ink in all cartridges can also prevent clogs in the printhead.

How can I print in black and white instead of color?

Most computers offer the option of printing in grayscale only. Look in the Print dialog box after telling the computer to print. You can usually check a box that specifies “Print in black and white only.”

Can I print in black when a color cartridge is empty?

Some printers will still print in black and white when you select the Grayscale option from your printer preference settings. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all printers, so you may be stuck hunting down a replacement color ink cartridge. If you find this to be a consistent problem with your current device, then have a look at our Canon Maxify MB5420 review.

STAT: In general, printing in only black and white saves you money, especially if you’re printing in bulk. (source)

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