Printing in Black and White When Color Ink is Dry

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Updated June 27, 2022

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 grayscale mode in printer preferences is an easy way to print without color ink.
  • If you print mostly in black and white, it’s more cost-effective to buy a black and white only printer.

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. However, you may have 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, there is a hack that 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. If you don’t use both color and black ink, you may risk permanently damaging your printer.


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, in the advanced tab, click on the Grayscale button 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, in the Color/Grayscale dropdown menu, select the Grayscale option.

STEP 3If This Hack Doesn’t Work

If this simple hack doesn’t work in freeing your printer to print without color ink, then you may, unfortunately, 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.

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.


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 some 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 black and white instead of color?

Most computers offer the option of printing in grayscale only. Look in the Print dialog box that appears after you tell 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.

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

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