Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Level 16
( Views : 2,818 )
No ratings
Question:  Can I print with one or more colors (or black) empty on my Inkjet printer? 
Answer:  It depends. 
HP and other printer manufacturers have different printer technologies for different needs.  For inkjet printers: 
Some have printheads built into the ink cartridges. These printers are known as Integrated Printhead or IPH printers.  IPH printers typically have two cartridges, a black cartridge and a tri-color cartridge.  IPH printers can typically print with one or more of the colors completely empty.  For HP printers released in the last decade or so,  they may print even with color or black (but not both) cartridges removed completely.  When a color cartridge is removed the printer will automatically switch to print in grayscale using the black cartridge.  If you remove the black cartridge the printer will mix color inks to print black.  IPH printers replace the printhead whenever a cartridge is replaced.  In this case replacing the print cartridge will also correct any issues related to the printhead.

If you will be removing an IPH cartridge from the printer but may want to use the cartridge later do not put the tape back on the cartridge as this would ruin the cartridge.  Opened cartridges should be left in the printer or stored as shown in the document here:


Other printers have separate ink supplies and "plumbing" to connect to the printhead.  These printers are known as Individual Ink Cartridge (IIC) printers.  Some IIC printers have removable printheads that can be replaced if needed, others have permanent printheads.  Most IIC printers will not allow printing if one or more of the ink cartridges are depleted.  This is because allowing the printhead to run dry could cause permanent damage to the printhead, since ink provides necessary cooling to the printhead components.  While some early IIC printers allowed printing with one or more colors out,  most do not.  The IIC printers that do not allow printing with a color out will typically give a warning when the ink is getting low.  An option may be given to print with black only (if one of the color inks are low) or color only (if black is low the black areas will be printed with color inks).  Once a color or black is completely depleted printing will be blocked until the depleted cartridge is replaced. 

Note:  when replacing a cartridge on an IIC printer the printer will typically go through a priming cycle to remove air that may have entered the ink delivery system.  This priming cycle will use some ink, which may cause other colors or black that are nearly depleted to become depleted.   I would suggest checking the ink levels before replacing a cartridge and replace all the cartridges that are nearly depleted at the same time.  This will avoid running multiple priming cycles that will use extra ink in all the colors and black. 


Caution:  Do not remove an IIC cartridge for more than thirty minutes as this wilI allow air into the printhead and/or dry out the "plumbing".   I have seen cases where folks remove a cartridge to take it to the store to make sure they get the proper replacement.   This will often cause issues and should be avoided. 



† The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation