Your printer is probably a utilitarian workhorse that you don’t think about until it’s broken. Why not spend a moment to consider the use of your printer so you can save some time and some paper too? Here are seven practical, easy-to-implement tips:

1. Keep supplies at the point of use. You can use Velcro (I like Industrial Strength) to stick frequently used supplies directly onto the side of your printer or the printer cart. This photo shows a rubber stamp that says “FAXED” that is attached with Velcro to the side of this printer/fax machine, for example.fax stamp

2. Print in “draft” mode to save ink. Using the draft printing mode of your printer’s settings can save you ink (and therefore money). When you need to print something formally, you can change the settings to normal.

scratch paper tray3. Keep a scratch paper tray. This photo at left shows paper trays located in the printer cart just beneath the printer, which have new, pristine paper in one tray and scratch paper in the other. When you print something that has only a few lines on it or otherwise can be used again, you can easily throw it in this tray.

4. Make your printed documents come out in proper order. You can usually change your printer’s settings to print document pages in reverse order by default. The result? Papers come out already stacked in the right order, ready to staple. No more shuffling 36 pages of a document to reorder them! [EDITOR'S NOTE: Not all printers print backwards by default; test yours with a short document first.]

5. Use scratch paper by default, and print on new paper only when necessary. Before inserting a stack of scratch paper into your printer for use, put a sticky note on the back of the last page of the stack. scratch paperThen put that stack on top of some new paper. (See photo at right for illustration) When you’re ready to print on new paper, you can see the sticky note indicating the bottom of the scratch paper stack and pull it out quickly.

6. Label your printer’s particularities. Are you (or your coworkers) forever asking, “Now which way does the paper go in? Face up or down?” Manufacturers often indicate this on the printer itself in some kind of international symbol language nobody seems to notice, but you can make it simple by just printing a label that says “FACE UP.” Here are a couple of examples.

face up label paper feed label

7. Just don’t print. Of course, it’s better to not print at all if you can possibly do that. If you don’t already have software to make PDF documents, by all means, get that capability so you can print to PDF instead.  Try Adobe Acrobat or Cute PDF. Also try SnagIt (one of my personal favorites- see my previous article “A Professional Organizer’s Favorite Software” for more). SnagIt takes screenshots of regions of your screen or even scrolling web pages (saving the links!).

Appreciate your workhorse printer today! And if your printer is cranky, maybe implementing these tips will make it be nicer to you.

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