How to trick your printer’s sensors into letting you print b/w when you’re out of color ink

Cannot Print. The printer does not have enough ink to maintain print quality.

I bought some movie tickets online the other day and had about 10 minutes to print my tickets before I had to run out the door. I hit print and looked expectantly at my printer, but as usual it was blinking at me saying that one of my color cartridges was empty. I rummaged through my ‘stuff’ drawer and noticed that I was clean out of ink, so I switched adobe reader to print in greyscale and hit print again. My black cartridge was full and brand new, but the printer said this:

Are you kidding me? Not enough ink to maintain image quality? on a black and white document? Obviously my lovely printer manufacturer (I have a Brother MFC-495CW) is trying to make more money on ink cartridge sales. Tough luck. So I pulled out one of the color cartridges and took a peek. This is what I saw:


The ink cartridge has a little window on it that shows you how much ink is left inside. After a bit of searching the web, I found out that the printer shines a light through the ink window to see how much ink is left. So I proceeded to see if I could fool the printer into seeing ink in the cartridge. I first tried to sharpie the window but that didnt seem to help.

Next, I grabbed a roll of electrical tape and stuck some on a few strategic spots as you can see below


Success! All three cartridges are now showing as full!


Some of you may be wondering if you lose print quality if you dont select greyscale mode at this point. Dont worry, I’ll show you what happens with a little help from Teddy Roosevelt:


It seems like a lack of color cartridges has little negative effect. Success!

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  • Comments (113)
    • krystelle
    • 11/19. 2014 7:03pm

    You are a life saver!

    • Mack Atttack
    • 12/12. 2014 7:51pm

    You are awesome.

    • PB
    • 12/18. 2014 12:10am

    It works. Brilliant!

    • Amalia
    • 12/24. 2014 10:48am

    I can’t tell where you put the electrical tape. Can you be more specific or get a closer picture?

    • mahdi khan
    • 01/07. 2015 5:28pm

    you could put electrical tape or a piece wrapped in the place where you see the ink this should trick the printer any brother printer model
    form a 14 year old middle school student

    • Charile Brown
    • 01/28. 2015 3:07pm

    AWESOME, Thank you!!

    • natasha
    • 01/29. 2015 5:30pm

    you are literally a god send!seriously i live in the middle of nowheresville usa hahaha and i have a small business and i had to ship some super important international packages, i paid the $100 some odd money for the label and the damn things says nope your out of yellow so you can print black,…and the closest place that sells this ink is 45 minutes away, then in a moment of desperation i searched on line how to trick my printer and i found your article and it worked immediatley…i used cherry black nail polish because thats all i had, but it did it! you are so awesome, you literally kept me from pulling my hair out and probably having a heart attack

    • LQ
    • 01/30. 2015 10:44am

    So glad I found this!! Thank you so much for this great tip! I tried it and it worked!!!!

    • sara
    • 02/08. 2015 8:21pm

    thank you for this ! I have put some masking tape and it did the job.
    it was driving me insane. I could see the ink and the printer was telling me it had none. I have when people try and take advantage of you !!!
    I printed with the remaining ink and it looked perfect.

  1. addict!!! maybe you have a pendulum in your head?!! you’re great!!!thank’s man..

    • OJ
    • 03/07. 2015 2:39pm

    you are a genius…

    • gw
    • 03/12. 2015 3:46pm

    Brother mfc -495cw error message cannot detect magenta cartridge please help

    • Rogue84
    • 03/16. 2015 9:27am

    It worked!!!!! Thank you so much!

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