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 (30)
  1. Awesome. Thanks for share

    • DLM
    • 12/17. 2016 12:51am

    Thank you so much. Worked like a charm. Much appreciated.

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    • Jehan
    • 04/07. 2017 6:26pm

    Thank you a lot! Merci beaucoup!

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  4. this so amazing, nice artikel, you saved my day : )

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    • Danielle
    • 01/01. 2018 3:00am

    This doesn’t work. could you explain where you put the electrical tape. I’ve tried everywhere and that blinking red exclamation mark makes me want to throw the machine at the wall.

    • workerbee
    • 01/08. 2018 1:33am


    White out works too

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    • just a reader
    • 03/04. 2019 12:43pm

    thanks a lot, totally broke and needed to print official documents, thanks again

  6. Thank you for the post.

    • naomi
    • 04/04. 2019 5:30am

    Why get fancy? cut out a sticky patch of a post it note. It’s right in your desk already.

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  7. Great information!! Thanks for sharing with us.

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    • Lori Lanier
    • 09/15. 2019 1:44pm

    This is brilliant. Ibused blue painters tape. Thanks so much!!!

  8. It’s a very informative information..

    • Joe Smith
    • 12/01. 2019 6:32pm

    I’m offended that they think so little of our intelligence that they would try and trick us into buying more ink with such a rudimentary protection.

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