More Printer Ink Tricks From Readers

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A few weeks back I did a Tips & Tweaks called "Save Money on Inkjet Printer Ink"--and readers responded in force. Last week I shared some of their recommendations with you, but there was way too much for one newsletter.

So this week: even more inkjet printer rants and hacks.

Reader Tips: Inkjet Printer Fixes

Here are a few low-tech solutions for printing problems.

"If print quality deteriorates and you're pretty sure there's still ink left in the cartridge, but the ink nozzles are clogged or dried up, remove the cartridge and immerse it in plain water for a few hours. Blot it as dry as you can, very gently; allow it to air-dry overnight; and put it back in the printer. With some trepidation I tried this with my old Lexmark Z43 inkjet. It worked. No guarantees on other cartridge brands."
--Judy S.

"There's a little free utility I use on my Epson printer called SSC Service Utility that can tell you how much ink is left in your cartridges. I always replace any cartridge that shows 3 percent left.

"One thing I do to avoid [cartridge] clogging is to frequently print a nozzle check to keep the ink wet in all the nozzles. It doesn't use much ink, and since I reckon that one cleaning operation uses about 6 percent of your ink, it's cheap insurance."
--Billy R., Columbia, South Carolina

Wes A. from Wilsonville, Oregon, was using an Epson CX 3200 MFP when one day up popped a message saying that his new ink cartridges were not an Epson brand, so the printer would not function. It turns out that when he'd gone to Epson's site to download the latest drivers a while back, he'd also downloaded and installed a small utility called the Status Monitor. That was the culprit. Once he uninstalled Status Monitor, he could use any ink cartridge.

Dig This: What would be the first thing you'd think if someone called and told you they were having problems with their printer? The complaint: "The paper is wrinkled, crumpled, and even shredded!" Make your diagnosis before watching this video.

Reader Hacks: Inkjet Cartridge Work-Arounds

Here's a handful of ways to get around ink-cartridge restrictions. Why would you want to do that? Well, did you know that you could be replacing inkjet cartridges that were still useful? It's painful, but true--at least according to a study commissioned by, of all companies, Epson.

I haven't tested these tips, so it's up to you which (if any) you want to try.

My buddy Brad B. from Atlanta fiddled with his Hewlett-Packard printer's configuration file (it's the INI file located here: c:/windows/hpbj1100.ini) and made a change to one line:

DeviceIoControl error:=997
changed to
DeviceIoControl error:=0000

That change kept his printer from looking at the cartridge's date and insisting that the cartridge was out of ink when it was still half full.

Brad also dug up two hacks you can try if you own other HP printers. The first is for an HP C5010A. The second provides three ways to reset the cartridge date on an assortment of HP printers.

Robert F., from Ontario, Canada suggested going to eBay to buy a chip resetting device. That's something you'll need to do if you're planning to refill an inkjet cartridge on your own. Just do an eBay search on "chip resetter" and find one for your specific printer brand and model.

Reader Rant: HP's Company Secrets

"You got to read this," said Mike D. from New Jersey. "It's 14 HP secrets allegedly written by a tech that left the company. I don't know if it's true, but take it for what it's worth." The expose is on the Consumerist site.

"One of the most aggravating things on the list," said Mike, "is how they won't help you with their 'throwaway' printers for longer than 30 minutes, because after that you're costing HP money."

Dig This: You may watch this video--involving a jeep, a rock, and an idiot--and wonder what he'll tell his dad (or worse, his insurance company).

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly "Hassle-Free PC" column and is the author of PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer, available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.
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