How To Tell If Ink Cartridge Is Empty

In the world of home and office high-tech contraptions, printers hold a special place as useful tools that enable you to create real-life paper representations of digital documents and images print by Ink Cartridge.

That said, however useful, printers are not without their quirks, so to speak.

It’s not usual for a computer periphery to amass a lot of hatred, but if you could only choose one contraption that makes its users pull their hair in anger – it’s probably printers.

Don’t get us wrong, printers represent one of the most useful high-tech apparatuses you can own, but when they’re not working, preventing yourself from punching a hole through them or throwing them out of the window of a multistory building can be a challenge.

By checking the ink levels in your printer cartridges regularly, you can always know when to buy some more. So, in case your ink cartridge runs dry in the middle of an important printing task, you can simply whip out the new cartridge you bought previously, replace the old one, and continue printing what you were printing.

In this article, we’re going to explain how to tell if ink cartridge is empty in your printer are low. Also, we will provide a brief step-by-step guide on how to check the ink levels yourself, so you can avoid irritating surprises while printing.

Here’s the deal.

How To Tell If Ink Cartridge Is Empty

men looking for ink cartridge empty

Visual Changes on Paper

Representing one of the easiest and most obvious ways to tell the ink levels in your printer cartridges are running low would be to take a look at the pages you’ve printed recently.

The thing is, when your printer is full (or, at least, full enough to print high-quality images and texts), you will be able to see that the documents that were printed are clear to read and that the visuals (if you have any on the pages) are pleasant to look at with vibrant, full colors.

On the other hand, if the documents you’re printing are starting to look a tad odd, with faded letters and less-than-perfect images, the culprit is almost always the lack of ink in the cartridge.

Now, if you’re using a color printer, you may encounter the following problem:

In case you print a lot of images with red colors, for example, (in case you work for some sort of a communist propaganda office, or Chicago bulls marketing team) the cartridge that stores the red ink will run out first.

The annoying thing about this is that you won’t be able to use the other colors if just one ink cartridge is low, so you will have to have a replacement cartridge always ready if you want to be able to print without interruptions.

Print a Test Page with a Printer Report

Let’s say you’ve already ‘applied’ the first method we described in the paragraph above and you have a sneaking suspicion that one or more of the cartridges are about to run out of ink.

What you can do to confirm your suspicions would be to print a special test page that will give you insight into how well your printer is performing at the moment.

Now, this option may be hidden in different ‘places’, depending on what computer and what operating system you’re using.

If you’re a Mac user, for example, you can find this option if you go to System Preferences and then Printers & Scanners.

Alternatively, many modern-day printers will have this feature inbuilt in their system. So, you can navigate their control panel to find this option. (The exact path depends on the manufacturer and the model. If you’re not sure how to get there, you can consult the instruction sheet that came with the printer, or you can usually find one on the manufacturer’s website.)

Once you’ve managed to print a report, on it you will find displayed such parameters as different colors (pink, yellow, and blue, for example), as well as different patterns and possibly some numbers representing the percentage of the ink that’s left in each of the cartridges. (In case your printer has multiple cartridges, of course.)

Check the Ink Level Updates

In case you own a modern printer model, you can always stay updated on the state of your ink cartridges by downloading a special app that informs you of how much ink your printer has to work with, so to speak.

The great thing about the printer models that have this option is that you can also download this app on your phone.

So, if you have a wireless printer, for example, and you’re printing things while away from home, the app will notify you in time in case the printer is running out of ink.

A similar feature is also standard with many of the older printer models. The difference is, of course, that you can check the ink levels by looking at your computer screen before you hit print. (The ink levels are typically displayed in the lower right corner of your computer screen.)

How to check how much ink is left in the printer cartridge manually?

In case everything else fails, or you just can’t be bothered to look for the submenu on your printer where you can print the test page we talked about, you can always check the ink levels in your printer the old-fashioned way – manually.

There is only one prerequisite for this method to work – the ink cartridges on your printer need to be made out of a see-through, or at least partially see-through plastic, so you can visually check how much of the stuff is left in them.

For a printer to work correctly and in accord with your computer, you have to have drivers installed and you have to load the paper into it in a proper way.

This is not that much of a big deal, so people who complain about their printers chewing on their paper or not working on their iOS may just need to update some drivers and be more precise when it comes to handling their paper, so to speak.

On the other hand, there is one printer-related problem that’s been haunting printer users ever since these contraptions were invented – low ink levels.

Even though there are several ways to check how much ink you’ve got left in your cartridge, you can still end up being in the middle of an important printing task only to find out that you’ve run out of ink.

Unsurprisingly, without ink, there’s no printing no matter what way you feed the paper into the printer.

Of course, as annoying as such an occurrence can be, the good news is that there is a way to prevent it.

Here’s how to do this:

1. Turn the printer ON and open the cover – For this ‘operation’ to work, your printer needs to be turned on.

After you’ve turned it on, what you need to do is open the cover that’s protecting the ink cartridges as well as the other ‘innards’ of the printer.

You can find this cover typically on top of the printer, or in the middle of it – depending on the manufacturer and the model.

2. Access the ink cartridges – Once the printer is ON and you’ve opened its cover, the tray with the cartridges should move into view from the side.

The thing is, most modern-day printers have an inbuilt mechanism that was put in place to make changing the cartridges easier.

So, when you open the cover while the printer is ON, this automatically triggers a mechanism that will make the cartridges move into view.

3. Remove the cartridges – The next step is to slowly remove the cartridges so that you can inspect them closely.

Now, the way to remove cartridges from their slots will vary from model to model, so you will need to check how to do this in the instruction manual or online.

In case you own an Epson printer, for example, you can do this by simply opening the special protective casing the cartridges are in and then removing them. For HP models, the procedure is even simpler – just pressing down gently on the cartridge itself will make it pop out of its slot.

Once you remove the cartridges, make sure not to touch their nozzles with your fingers. (The nozzles are the copper-looking things that are located at the edge of a cartridge facing towards the printer. So, you don’t have to worry about touching the nozzles accidentally while pulling them out.)


As we said above, in most cases, the ink cartridges are made out of see-through plastic, so once you take them out of their slots, checking the levels of ink is as simple as taking a closer look at the cartridge itself.

All in all, running out of ink in the middle of an important printing task can be a frustrating experience.

Luckily for anyone who worries that this may happen to them, the good news is that this irritating turn of events can be easily prevented.

As long as you make sure you check the ink levels in your cartridges regularly, you can rest assured that you will never run out of ink when you need it the most. We hope you found this article helpful and we wish you success with your printing tasks.

2 thoughts on “How To Tell If Ink Cartridge Is Empty”

  1. TOM I’ve been using ink printers since the 80s. HP just decided to screw over all their customers by scamming them on the ink cartridges. NEVER EVER EVER buy a Hewlett Packard PRINTER.

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