Smart ways to do regular things

Tips to do things smarter and more efficiently

Use “Print to PDF” or Draft mode to save on printer ink – but not to print barcodes

with 2 comments


Even though it might be a cliché, I’d still like to repeat it. Save Paper. Take print outs only when you have to. But what about those times when you absolutely HAVE to save that webpage or document.

If there isn’t really a need to have a physical print out, and saving a copy on your computer for future reference is an alternative, you can save that paper, and save on printer ink too. If you want to save a document, web page or anything else on the computer, saving it as a PDF document is a cost-effective and viable alternative.

For Windows, there are many free alternatives to download like DoPDF, CutePDF, PrimoPDF (being some of them). Adobe Acrobat Professional is also an option, if you can/have the inclination to buy it. After installing one of the above programs, when you want to print to pdf, hit the print command and select the PDF printer in the Print dialog box. Linux has a “Print to PDF” feature built right into the printer dialog box. In OpenOffice (or LibreOffice), if you want to save your document as a PDF, then you will have to select File -> Export as PDF.

Google Chrome browser also has a Print to PDF feature built-in, which when selected in the print dialog box, will save the printed output as a PDF document.

Draft Mode
Print Dialog, Draft Mode

But what if you need a physical copy. Well, there is a way to save on some ink in this case too. Use “Draft” mode. Draft Color or Draft Grayscale mode prints in draft mode in color or black ink.  Draft mode prints using less ink and the printouts are not of very high quality, but of medium to low quality depending on your printer driver settings. Most times this is enough, and the prints are of decent quality too. This is usually enough if all you want to do is take a print of your route map or some web content for reference. While taking print outs on my HP Inkjet printer, I usually use “draft” mode as default, to save on printer ink. Apparently printing in draft mode uses just half the ink of regular print mode.

How do you select draft mode? Select it from the “Properties” or “Advanced Properties in the print dialog box and look for the Print Quality, Color or Image Quality settings tab.

There is one warning though, and this is a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way. Bar codes printed in draft mode do NOT get scanned by the barcode scanner machines. Shopping receipts for store pick-up, Boarding passes and other pages where you have to print a bar code that will be scanned at the store or kiosk using a laser barcode scanner will NOT be scanned if it is printed using DRAFT quality. Make sure the bar code itself is printed in “Normal” mode even if the rest of the text is not.

Hope these tips help you saving some money on paper and printer ink. After all, printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids (by volume) available to mankind, even more expensive than crude oil, medicine and even human blood, as this infographic from Nuesion.com shows:

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Written by Neelesh Mohile

November 5, 2011 at 6:44 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I know this trick but I think to save file as PDF document , you need to go through this following process File-Save as- PDF document. I didn’t know this trick wouldn’t work with bar-code but the question is how can I print the bar-code as a normal print where other text will be printed with a draft mode in the same document?

    MD. MAHMUD UL HAQUE

    July 6, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    • As far as i know, you either print the whole doc as “Normal” or in “Draft”, there is no half-way about it. Do let me know if you find of any way since that could go a long way in saving precious printer ink.

      Neelesh Mohile

      November 6, 2012 at 12:43 am


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