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Epson Printer Tricks

Robert from Pittsburgh asks:

I have an Epson printer which is primarily used to print documents, so I only use the black ink. The darn thing will not work if any of the cartridges are empty. I was wondering if there was a way to trick it into printing, since I only want black and have no need for cyan, magenta, and yellow. Any ideas?

Epson printers tend to use the ink as a coolant and a cushion to keep the printer head from overheating. Ink is necessary to maintain the printer and prevent it from becoming damaged. This means that ink must be present in all the cartridges, no matter what. When the printer senses that an ink cartridge is empty, not printing until the cartridge is refilled is actually a safety feature for the printer.

Epson printers use the color ink to make the black ink darker. Each color is layered under the black for any type of picture or document, but the amount of color used will depend on the darkness of the black. For instance, a document with a graph or table containing gray images won’t use nearly as much ink as an image that is completely black.

Printers usually come with a variety of color cartridges, as well as the standard black ink cartridge. Most people want to have the option to print items off in either color or black and white. If you only need black ink, then there are usually ways to make your color printer disregard the color ink cartridges and only draw from the black. Unfortunately, Epson printers don’t allow this option.

A suggestion might be to replace the color cartridges and only print in grayscale. This will enable you to conserve the other colors of ink and be able to print items in black and white. Images that consist of bright colors will be substituted with various shades of gray. The following steps are for using the gray scale option when printing:

Step 1 – Choose the document or image you wish to print

Step 2 – Select the option to print, this will cause your print box to open


Step 3 – Select the printer of your choice and click on the Properties button


Step 4 – When the new window opens, click on the tab labeled Paper/Quality

Step 5 – In the new Paper/Quality tab that appears, place a check in the box next to the words Black & White


Step 6 – After checking this box, additional choices may be made.

Step 7 – Once the appropriate boxes have been checked, click the OK button at the bottom of this window.

You can also set your printer to use the grayscale option for all documents that are to be printed. By making this adjustment from the very beginning, you won’t have to remember to set it each time there is something you want to print. The following steps are for setting up your printer for always using the grayscale option when printing.

Step 1 – Open up the window that shows your collection of printers and documents

Step 2 – Click on Printer in the top left corner


Step 3 – Click on Printing Preferences and a new window will open


Step 4 – When the new window opens, click on the tab labeled Paper/Quality

Step 5 – In the new Paper / Quality tab that appears, place a check in the box next to the words ‘Black & White’

Step 6 – Click on the OK button

If you are certain that you aren’t going to want to use much color when printing, then this step-by-step process is probably going to be easier than changing the printer properties for each new task. You can always change the printer and fax properties back to color printing if you need to later on.

The other option that is available is to purchase a printer that only uses black ink. This will eliminate the need to purchase color ink cartridges, which are more expensive than black. Since you are interested in using black ink most of the time anyway, this might be a wise investment. Most other printers will print documents even when some of the ink cartridges are empty.

A much pricier option, at least in the beginning, is to purchase a continuous inking system for your Epson printer. This type of system includes bottles of ink that are attached to the cartridges with tubes that feed ink directly into the cartridge. Epson ink cartridges have a microchip embedded in them that sense when the cartridge is empty. Even if the cartridges are refilled, the printer won’t allow the cartridge to be reused. Continuous inking systems come with their own microchip sensor that tricks the printer into thinking the cartridge is always full.

In the long run, purchasing a continuous inking system and using only grayscale to print documents will extend your ink levels for a long period of time and for less cost than it is to buy new cartridges each time one runs out.

~Cory Buford