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Fight Ink and Toner Addiction With Adobe's LeanPrint

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At a Glance
  • Adobe LeanPrint

Home and SoHo printer design is highly deceptive these days. Feature-laden inkjet units with touchscreen controls crowd this segment of the market, bearing price tags that seem too good to be true. A few weeks later, when the ink cartridges accompanying the new printer run dry, you discover that the replacement inks cost almost as much as the printer itself. Much the same is true of laser printers, as well. LeanPrint is Adobe's answer to premature ink or toner depletion, promising substantial reductions in your usage of cartridges and paper without hardware upgrades or complex reconfigurations.

LeanPrint modifies print jobs on two levels. The first mode, called TonerSaver, works by reducing the amount of ink or toner used to form text (thereby lightening each letter) and by replacing solid colors with pattern fills where appropriate, such as pie charts and diagrams. The savings in ink and toner are modest but noticeable, and readability isn't seriously compromised.

SuperSaver mode takes a different tack: automatically reformatting print jobs so as to reduce page count. LeanPrint substitutes space-efficient fonts, rearranges pages, modifies column counts, and omits irrelevant content such as advertisements. This radical approach produces impressive results under optimized conditions, lowering page counts by 70 percent or more. But the key qualifier here is "under optimized conditions."

Unfortunately, LeanPrint has limited applicability. It doesn't support Chrome or the latest version of Firefox or any office applications other than Microsoft Word and Excel. Its PDF support is limited to Adobe Reader 8 or later. That leaves a rather narrow range of applications that the software can work with. The browser restrictions alone will discourage most home users and small businesses from adopting LeanPrint.

The homepage in LeanPrint's SuperSaver preview mode. Net gain: Three pages saved. Missing: The headline story on flash drives.
In addition, I ran into problems with SuperSaver during testing. Printouts of the homepage showed important areas omitted from the final output, including the lead story. LeanPrint is also finicky about which documents and websites it will reformat using SuperSaver. Even mildly complex print jobs confound it and bump you over to the less impressive TonerSaver mode. What's more, document analysis is lengthy on big files. Adobe programs love to show display progress bars as they chug away, and LeanPrint is no exception. You will visit your coffee maker regularly.

There's a whiff of the unfinished about LeanPrint that makes the $99 asking price a tough sell, especially coming from a company with the size and expertise of Adobe. Through judicious use of a few options available in most print drivers (draft mode, number of pages printed per sheet, and double-sided printing, for example), you can achieve most of the savings that LeanPrint offers--without the drawbacks of document reformatting and automated editing. IT bean counters looking to squeeze dollars from tight budgets will undoubtedly find something to love here, but everyone else should give LeanPrint a cycle or two to get up to speed. Home users might try the $29 GreenPrint Home Premium instead.

--Jim Norris

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At a Glance
  • Under the right conditions, Adobe's LeanPrint can significantly lower your paper and ink or toner expenditures, but supported programs are not numerous and the SuperSaver feature is finicky.


    • Great concept
    • TonerSaver mode is quite helpful
    • Free trial


    • SuperSaver mode has problems
    • Pricey
    • Limited support for other programs
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