Printing with just color cartridge when b/w cartridge is empty

Hi all, :wave:

I´ve just finished making my tax declaration and wanted to print it.
Alas it seems my black cartridge has no ink in it any more. :frowning_face:

To be more precise: status says: enough ink - so it seems to be dried out (as I haven´t used the printer for much too long as it seems.)

But the color cartridge still works perfectly as my test-page which I printed out suggests.

My text declaration is in black-and-white, so I have (probably a stupid) question:

Does anybody know of some command (or even printer settings) that would allow me to use the color cartridge alone for printing? :thinking:

So basically instead of black-and-white I´d like to print e.g. blue-and-white.

Thanks so much in advance.
Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

my printer is HP Deskjet 3050A-J611 series and uses a b/w and a color cartridge

Yes, this sounds reasonable and is how humans think. And that should be finde. Emphasis on should.

Over the years, however, manufacturers of printers built in hugh mongous amounts of measures and tricks into their devices, just so the consumer has to pay double, triple and more of what should be paid, if they weren’t so extremely greedy and dishonest.

For example, they invented a fixed lifetime, determined by the count of printed pages, for printer cartridges. Often, if you print 10_000 pages, your ink counts as “empty”. It literally does not matter if it is empty. It might still be half full (sometimes this is actually the case). But once this random rip-off mark of 10_000 pages is hit, your cartridge counts as empty, no matter how full it is.

Another example is, blocking 3rd party cartridges, which usually cost 70 - 90% less of what the original cartridges cost. They are not worse in quality! They are not bad! They are simply just cheaper. And that’s what the manufacturers hate.
I know what I’m talking about.

1 Cartridge for my 16 year old professional business printer costs about 100 bucks, when bought branded by the original manufacturer (Dell).
A couple of years ago I paid 40 bucks for about five 3rd-party non-original aftermarket cartridges. I still use them today and they are fine.
I do not need to explain the difference between 40 bucks and 500 bucks. Especially when the printer is so old, I could sell it for the price of half an original cartridge…

Before I bought those cartridges, I constantly heard that super loud and annoying beeping sound, because the black one was supposed to be empty. I would expect a newer and cheaper printer to block you from printing altogether, if just one cartridge seems to be empty.

Long story short, printers are literally a rip-off by default and that’s not exaggerated!!

Due to my experience, I will give you my honest opinion:
Save the trouble and just buy 3rd party non-original aftermarket cartridges. This will be the cheapest massage for your nerves, you will get this year. 20 to 50 bucks (depending on model and type) paid once in 2 to 5 years (depending on usage) for the printer to shut up and behave is absolutely worth it. :wink:


Dear @Akito, :wave:

thanks so much for your detailed reply. :hearts:

I see.
Well, that´s all too bad.

The problem with me probably is that I don´t print enough - just when the occasion arises.
The last time I printed out anything (or perhaps copied something) was certainly months ago.

hp-toolbox says there is enough black ink available, so theoretically it shouldn´t count as empty. But there´s still the possibility of the ink having dried up during the summer… :frowning_face:

On printing - How to print using only the color cartridge? - Ask Ubuntu there was the following suggestion:

  • Open up the Printers utility.
  • Right click on your printer and select Properties.
  • From the list on the left side, select Printer Options. Then scroll down to the Printer Features Common section and change the Ink Set option to Color.

  • Hit Apply. The printer will now print using only the ink from the color cartridge.

Alas I couldn´d do that because there´s no such setting as “Ink Set” with me. :frowning_face:

Such a shame…

Nevertheless: thanks a lot for your advice, Akito.

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m pretty sure, that means it also prints with colour, instead of only grayscale. At least, that’s how it works for me. You either print in b/w or you print b/w+colour. I don’t know of any setting which automatically switches colours.

If you really need to print the papers urgently, you might try manually changing the font colour in LibreOffice Writer or Draw. Then you could try to print it, as long as there is not a single line of black ink required.

I doubt it would work that easily, though.

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Thanks @Akito for the suggestion,

I´ll look into it.
Perhaps I can make use of LibreOffice.

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

What you could try is to print to pdf, then import pdf into GIMP, so you create a raster graphics of all your pages. Lower the contrast, so that black will not be black anymore, just some dark-grey. Print from GIMP.
That will theoretically force the printer driver to print using color inks as well, as it has to create a mix of inks on the paper.
Won’t be perfect, but you’ll have something readable on paper.
Will be tedious if you have many pages…

Update: I should have read the whole thread before contributing… :frowning:
Basically I meant the same as @Akito, just with a different method…

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No doubt you have good reason to use paper and ink, not going to doubt that.

But I am in the same boat, cannot remember the last time I printed. Create pdf, save, if it needs submitting do it electronically.

Usually I have stock of black and it’s the colour that fails, then the printer will not scan which is just as frustrating, luckily you get round this with a mobile phone or tablet with camera. Not the same for printing.

Perhaps we will arrive at paperless office which was the plan in the 80s … but that was a bit like the program … the last one quickly followed by the very last one…

Sorry this does not help your quest just a general comment.


If I encountered such a problem, Rosika, I would save the document as a pdf on a USB stick. With the stick in hand, I would look for a public printer–try the library first, then an internet cafe, and maybe even a commercial operation like Kinko’s or another public printer.

When that problem is defeated, think about a laser printer. Many are available around $100 and most have aftermarket toner cartridges far cheaper than the OEM models. And the cartridges work FOREVER. I’m using an ‘obsolete’ Canon office all-in-one machine. The biggest problem was finding a linux driver. I gave my son my old HP laser printer; it used $12 third party toner cartridges providing 3-5K pages each.

If you must have color, HP Envy printer seal the cartridges between uses so they don’t dry out. My current cartridges were shipped five years ago. They still work.

There are answers to most things, Rosika; sometimes it’s just changing the question.

Hi all, :wave:

thanks a lot for all this great input of yours. :heart:
It´s highly appreciated.

Well, as a first impulse I ordered a new black ink cartridge on amazon yesterday.
Today (around midday) I received an e-mail message stating that it´s on its way. Let´s hope for the best. :blush:

I very much hope it´ll come in time to get the printer working again.
… provided that it´s really the “empty” black ink cartridge that´s to blame…

I see.

Well, out of curiosity I tried

I don´t know why but this doesn´t seem to work. Lowering the contrast didn´t change anything. Strange :thinking:.
But thanks a lot anyway. :slightly_smiling_face:

Yes, that´s really annoying.
Often times I create or use a pdf or text document but no need to print it out (at least not right away).
Then - after summer - and more than just a few months after the latest usage problems with the ink cartridges may very well come up as it seems.

I was thinking of printing some sort of test-page once a month in the future even if there´s no actual need for printing - just to keep the ink in the cartridges from drying out.
Not sure though if this would help at all. Just a thought. :blush: :thinking:

Good idea.
Here in Germany this can be done via ELSTER (which needs some sort of certificate I guess and a registration process).
In my case it´s a bit too late for that but in the future that might very well be worth considering.

Thanks so much. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks for the suggestion. :heart:

In the little village I live in there´s no such thing as an internet café and I´m not sure the small library here even has got a public printer available.

Well, never mind. As I´ve already mentioned, I ordered new ink yesterday. I´ll keep my fingers crossed for that. :blush:

I see. That´s good to know. Thanks a lot for the suggestion. :slightly_smiling_face:

Many thanks to all of you for your kind help. :heart: :heart: :heart:

Many greetings from Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

Too late, if you have ordered the ink… but for future ideas

Laser printers
They are coming down in price (relative) they do more copies per cartridge and never dry … you can take the toner out, shake it and put it back.
Black looks fine.
No experience of colour or long term use or even leaving them in used for a period … but would be interested if anyone else has one and thoughts.
Have a client wants a new printer and wondered about suggesting a change to this technology, done some reading but prefer real life experience from users
Not sure one make over another

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It had to be ordered, anyway. We are just talking about the possibility of printing without black ink.

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Hi again, :wave:

That´s really good to know. Thanks.

I´m using my present HP printer (Deskjet 3050A-J611 series ) as it was a special offer in our local Aldi store years ago. If I´m not competely mistaken the price was something between 50 and 100 Euros at the time.
In general I´m satisified with it - aside from the ink issue.

But perhaps a laser printer would be more suited foy my purposes.

Thanks a lot for the info
Many greetings.

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve always preferred laser printers over any other solution, whether for personal use, or when I used to do “general dog’s body” IT support… they’re way more reliable than ink printers and dot matrix…

And overall, IMHO, cheaper to run…

Be wary - you should always read the fine print. I’ve mentioned this before - I once bought a Samsung colour laser printer, it seemed like a bargain at the time… but - the toner cartridges were only about 1/3 full (deliberately so! i.e. it was a marketing decision), and to replace them cost TWICE AS MUCH as the actual printer! This is unconscionable extortionism! Anyway - ended up chucking the piece of crap out on the verge - it was worthless…

Also, before you buy, check out the prices (and availability) of the consumables…


Let me just add:

The best choice is definitely to save the document on a pen drive, go to a copy shop and print it there. However, if you’re in a rural area, there’s possibly no copy shop around and without a car, you’re fucked.

So, @Akito’s solution seems the best to me: load the pdf into LibreOffice Draw, which is perfect for editing pdfs, mark all and set the font colour to some ugly brown and print it. Anyway, the inland revenue doesn’t deserve better.


Hi all, :wave:


Thanks for the recommendation, Dan. :+1:

Uh, that seems unfortunate.
Plus: to charge such a huge amount of money for toner cartridges seems outrageous.
I wouldn´t have thought that Samsung displays such marketing strategies. :slightly_frowning_face:

Well, thanks again for the warnings. I´ll keep my eyes open for any potential pitfalls (at least I´ll try my best) :wink:

Many greetings
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi Mina. Thanks a lot for your advice.

Yeah, about that rural area: I´m living in one of these, that´s for sure.

We even used to have a copy shop but it closed many years ago. :slightly_frowning_face:
Well, more and more small shops are closing down right now - even before the pandemic hit.

Out of interest I was trying the LibreOffice Draw workaround but somehow I kept failing.

Two things:

  • Despite looking around for solutions I couldn´t find the right place to set the font colour. :thinking:

Pretty embarrassing - but until now I´ve never had occasion to use LibreOffice at all…
So I´m really lost on how to change font colours.

Plus: something else turned out to be weird:

  • My tax declaration consists of 16 pages out of which 5 are displayed using a black (!) background and my entries in blue
    … which renders those pages unreadable. :slightly_frowning_face:

The rest of the pages are displayed in a correct way: white background, black font and my personal entries in blue.

Why not all of the pages are treated the same way is really beyond me. :thinking:

But thanks so much anyway.

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


Those are true words, Mina. :wink:

About the only thing Samsung makes that I think are okay are their computer monitors and TV’s…

Their refridgerators are rubbish…

But - their computer monitors are EXCELLENT, I have several of them as “spares” some of them are MORE THAN TEN years old and they still work… Actually, I use one every day, its a 20" 4:3 1600x1200 monitor, circa 2009/2010 and it’s STILL GOING STRONG…

Despite using a Galaxy S9+ phone with a fairly “stock” Android (10) I LOATHE the bloatware that Samsung inflict on their “take” on Android (and I kinda miss the Android One “experience” on my old Nokia 4.2) - I reserve especial loathing for their “Siri / Google Talk” product - it’s called Bixby and there’s a physical button that fires it up and I’m always accidentally pressing it and Bixby pops up and asks me if I want to upgrade my Bixby version, when I’ve already pretty much disabled it (I’ve denied it access to the microphone for a start, and the camera) - but Samsung won’t let you REMOVE it! This is something I WILL NEVER do - i.e. talk to a computer… well not willingly… who knows, if my eyesight gets worse, I may have to, but until then the ONLY interaction I want to engage in with a computer is PUNCHING DATA into it, with the occasional clickety-click, or tappety-tap…

I like DEX on my Samsung though… And typical of Samsung, they launch Linux on DEX as a feature of their “flagship” handsets, then they surrepticiously, arbitrarily REMOVE Linux on DEX! I can still use the DEX “desktop” mode on a HDMI display (over USBC), and Termux is a great product that’s DEX aware, but, I would have liked to have tried out Linux on DEX (it was basically an ARM version of Ubuntu).

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Hi Dan, :wave:

thanks for sharing your views regarding Samsung products. Very interesting and informative. :+1:

Good to know.
I myself am using a Samsung TV set (certainly a few years old, to say the least) and am also satisfied with it.
The only thing worth mentioning is the fact that I bought it for reception of local terrestial digital TV (DVB-T) at the time.

Unfortunately DVB-T doesn´t exist any more and was replaced by the newer standard DVB-T2 (which permits transmission of HD signals). As the newer standard isn´t backwards compatible with DVB-T I cannot use the TV set right now. :slightly_frowning_face:

I´ll still have to buy a little set-top-box (DVB-T2) to get it running again. :slightly_smiling_face:

But for this inconveniency Samsung isn´t to blame. So that´s all I can say about Samsung products.

Many greetings
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi all, :wave:

just want to let you know that my new black ink cartridge has arrived. :smiley:

I inserted it, adjusted the cartridge(s) as per instructions and could finally print my tax declaration.

For what it´s worth I learned some (new) things in the discussion here as far as printers are concerned.
So thanks a lot to all of you for your kind help. It´s highly appreciated, as ever. :+1:

Many greetings from Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


In the process I also learned how to convert coloured pdf into black-and-white pdf with the help of the command line.
Surely you all know such things, but in the unlikely event that this might be new to anyone reading this post I´d like to share the command. :blush:

This is what worked for me (ghostscript command):

gs \
 -sOutputFile=output.pdf \
 -sDEVICE=pdfwrite \
 -sColorConversionStrategy=Gray \
 -dProcessColorModel=/DeviceGray \
 -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 \
 -dBATCH \

(from: printing - Convert pdf to monochrome black-and-white via command line - Ask Ubuntu )


I didn’t know, now I know.

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