Why does a Canon printer run out of ink so quickly?

Canon printer
Ink stink: avoid excessive cartridge drain

If your Canon printer is running out of ink at a rapid lick, even though you barely ever print from the damned thing, there might be a few explanations. However, I suspect the reason why your Canon printer is running out of ink so quickly will likely be down to how it’s switched on and off.

Reasons why a Canon printer runs out of ink quickly

Here are a few reasons why your Canon printer may be burning through ink, starting with that power problem that I’ve discovered with my own printer.

1. It’s not being switched off ‘properly’

If, like me, you have your Canon printer connected to a power strip and you switch that strip off at the end of the working day, that’s likely to be the reason why your printer is burning through ink.

If your printer has an LCD display, you may have seen warning that the printer wasn’t shut down properly when you switch it off from the mains. Don’t ignore those warnings, as that’s probably what’s doing the damage to your ink levels.

Every time your printer is switched back on, the printer will go through a cleaning purge to ensure the print heads aren’t blocked. These purges use up a small amount of ink, but if you’re doing that every day, that can empty cartridges – even if you’re not printing much.

To prevent this from happening, either leave the printer permanently plugged in (most recent models have an eco mode which puts the printer in a low-power state, so it won’t hammer your electricity bills) or make sure to power down the printer from its own power button before you switch off the power strip.

2. You’re using the wrong type of printer

This sounds like a ‘wrong types of leaves on the line’ excuse, but bear with me. If you’re printing a lot of documents, the cheaper inkjet printers that you commonly find in supermarkets and other High Street stores are not for you.

These printers are designed for home users with modest print volumes – the odd piece of homework, letters and so forth. If you’re printing off reams and reams of documents, you will quickly burn through the small ink cartridges found in most home printers.

If you’re printing dozens or hundreds of pages each week, then you will generally be much better off with a laser printer. These are normally more expensive to buy up front, and the toner’s often more expensive than a cartridge too, but the price per page will be significantly less over time.

The high-capacity ink tank inkjet printers that have appeared on the market in recent years are something of an exception to this rule.

Check out the reviews in magazines such as PC Pro for advice on which printer to buy. (Full disclosure: I work for that magazine.)

3. It’s being left too long between prints

At the other end of the scale, the ink in your cartridges can dry up if you don’t use the printer regularly. This is especially the case if you leave the printer in a warm room or in direct sunlight.

Try and keep the printer as cool as possible in between uses, and give it a run out every couple of weeks just to keep things ticking over.

4. Wrong paper type set

The printer can use too much ink if you’ve got the wrong type of paper selected in the settings. The vast majority of print jobs will be on plain A4 paper, but if your printer thinks it’s dealing with photo paper or other types of stock, it may lay down more ink on the page than is necessary.

To prevent this happening, make sure to check your page settings before printing. The print media settings will vary depending on operating system and application used. When you press print in Microsoft Word for Mac, for example, you can click on the drop-down menu that says Copies & Pages and choose Media & Quality:

Microsoft Word printer settings

When that screen opens, you can specify the type of media being used as ‘Plain Paper’ from the Media Type menu:

Canon Pixma Pro printer

Computer can’t find printer?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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