In Part 1, I covered some printing techniques to reduce paper wastage, namely Duplex Printing, Multiple Pages per Sheet, Content Editing, Print Preview, and Digital Format. If you haven’t come across it, you are welcomed to look into Part 1 before going into Part 2.
In this part, I will be covering some software that are specifically written to assist computer users in reducing paper wastage, as well as help in saving printing inks (they are expensive!) The software covered are mixed with free and commercial versions, and I list out the pros and cons for each software, and give some recommendations for those who are looking at a free solution. There is one common characteristic for all these software: all of them will be installed as a virtual printer in your operating system to streamline the printing process. So let’s begin with the first printing software:
GreenPrint (Free and Commercial)
Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, GreenPrint offers three versions of their printing software which aimed to save paper, ink and trees. GreenPrint World, which is a free version specifically for home users only, and includes all the basic GreenPrint features (save as PDF, remove images, texts, and pages etc.), with a price of unobtrusive advertisements in the user interface. No luck for MAC OSX users, the free World Edition only supported Windows XP/Vista/7, both 32-bit and 64-bit. There is another version, namely GreenPrint Home Premium priced at $19, is a better featured GreenPrint (faster preview, no advertisements etc.), which supports Mac OSX. However, I personally think that the free version is quite adequate for most of the users, except that you can’t really bear with the advertisements embedded in the user interface.
The interface of GreenPrint is quite self-explanatory, where all the functions available to the user are well-defined with the icons. There are also some counters tracking all the costs and savings that the user has made using the software. Click on the counters at the bottom bar will lead you to the GreenPrint Report, which is an interface showing a detailed statistics on your printing behavior. Below shown the interface of Green Print:
- Free with advertisements, only supported Microsoft Windows (World Edition)
- Better version available at $19 with advertisements (Home Premium)
- Options to remove images, texts, and pages
- Save as PDF option
- No multi-pages per sheet option
- Have an option to plant a tree for $1
A completely free solution provided by Inzone Software Limited, iPrint is an eco-friendly printing utility that can help computer users to save cost in printing, which can be used either at home or for business purposes. Besides being a free forever software, it has some nice features equipped with it as well – it has multiple pages per sheet options (2-in-1 and 4-in-1), plus it can collect all the printing jobs in one interface, which is useful for batch printing. Though natively iPrint doesn’t come with a PDF creation feature, but it can be easily solved by installing a PDF printer such as PrimoPDF.
Similar to GreenPrint, iPrint has a simple interface with self-explanatory icons. In the software interface, the user is able to remove unwanted pages by just double click on them, however there is no option to remove images or texts from the document, unlike in GreenPrint. Nevertheless, iPrint does have a simple counter for the savings made by the user.
- Free forever
- Option to remove pages
- Multiple pages per sheet option (2-in-1 and 4-in-1)
- Collect print jobs within one interface
- No save as PDF option
- No options to remove images and texts
I must say that PriPrinter is one of the eco-friendly printing software that have the most complete features, not to mention the nice GUI (Ribbon UI), however, they do not have a free version. Standard edition cost you about $34.95, which does not contain PDF creation and text editing features. The complete Professional Edition PriPrinter is at $87.95, which might be worthy for those who related in the printing industry, but it is definitely an undesired price tag for a normal computer users. Nevertheless, they do provide a free trial of both versions without time limit, with small banner printed on each page as a trade-off, which I personally feel that it is quite acceptable for personal usage (check the screenshot below, notice the red color small banner).
Feature wise, Pelikan Software KFT’s PriPrinter is quite unbeatable. Besides using the Ribbon UI, it has a high quality rendering engine which allows the user to perform print preview in many ways, including in 3D mode (which give you an idea how does the printing look like in the real life). It also has numerous options for the page layout and printing mode for the user to choose during a printing job, which allows a high flexibility printing pattern. With the Professional Edition, you can even edit the content on the fly (highlight, black out, correction), which is definitely a good feature.
- Highly customizable printing job
- Fully featured
- Ribbon UI
- 3D preview mode
- Storable printing history
- Unlimited free trial with small printed banner
- No free version
Besides PriPrinter, FinePrint is another alternative but cheaper version which contains numerous of features for printing jobs. At a price of $49.95 for a single license, you get pretty much all the necessary functions for smart printing, including multiple pages per sheet, remove graphics (which can be remove individually), remove pages, double-sided, content editing (delete, highlight, redact). I have been using FinePrint for quite some time, and one of the feature I liked the most is the printer setting wizard. This wizard will run a series of printing tests for your printer to determine the settings, especially on duplex printing settings, which helps a lot if you always deal with double-sided printing using a non-auto duplex printer. FinePrint can also archive the printing jobs, so if you need a identical copies of the printed materials in the future, you can just open the archived printing job and you are ready to print it again.
Unlike PriPrinter, FinePrint has a much simpler interface, and most of the functions are accessible from the user interface, but definitely not as customizable as in PriPrinter. However,it is not surprising that some computer users would prefer a simpler interface rather than a complicated one, so FinePrint is a good choice for them. Although it is a commercial software, but it does offer a free trial without time limit, and similarly, the print out will have small banner of FinePrint.
- All necessary features are included
- Simpler user interface
- Printer setting wizard
- Storable printing job
- No Save as PDF option
- Unlimited free trial with small printed banner
- No free version
Which is the best at the cost of zero?
All software introduced above have their own pros and cons, and at the cost of nil, it really depends whether the user is able to bear the small banner in the trial version. If you can, get yourself PriPrinter if you looking for highly customizable printing job, or go for FinePrint if you prefer a simpler and easy-to-access interface. Of course, if you do mind about the small banner and would like to have a clean printing from the software, go for both GreenPrint World Edition and iPrint. The only setback is that you can’t have both content editing (offered by GreenPrint) and multiple pages per sheet (offered by iPrint) work together. I have tried to go for a bypass trick, which I first edit the content of the document in GreenPrint, and then transfer the printing job to the iPrint (and vice versa), but the printing doesn’t seems usable (texts rendering goes haywire).
Besides the four software above, there are another two software that I would like to introduce as a companion for them.
Being the world 1st free PDF creator (as claimed by them), PrimoPDF is a PDF creator which can be installed as a complement to those software that not having PDF creation feature, such as iPrint and FinePrint. I have been using it to generate PDF for quite some time, and it rarely fails me, so I strongly recommended PrimoPDF for PDF creation task in Microsoft Windows.
To download PrimoPDF, head to their official page and get it installed in your Windows XP/Vista/7.
iReader (Firefox and Google Chrome only)
Besides the printing software, it will be the best if the content of the printing can be filtered before sending them for the printing job, especially web content. While some of the websites do have a printer-friendly option, but somehow it doesn’t available for most of the websites containing great articles. With iReader, those unnecessary elements in the webpage (banners, website header, background etc.) are all removed and a clean article is able to be generated from a full-featured website. Using our own website and my article as an example, you can see the difference before and after using the iReader for content filtering. After the filtering (or clutter-free processing), you can print it right away using the software that I have introduced above, either on the paper or into digital format. There is one minor problem with this option though: the separation between pages might cut a line of texts or image into half since the article is rendered in a clutter-free and continuous manner, but I believe it doesn’t cause much problem in most cases.
Before using iReader
After using iReader
If you are using Mozilla Firefox, proceed to their official add-ons site for iReader. Else, if you are using Google Chrome, it is available in Google Chrome Extensions gallery.
With some assistance from the software and a little bit of effort from the computer users, I believe that paper wastage can be reduced to a very low level. Hopefully all the software covered in this article are able to help all the readers in reducing paper wastage due to unnecessary/mistaken printing. Don’t hesitate to share this article to your friends/relatives or anyone that involved with tons of printing everyday; it does not only save the printing cost, but it does reduce paper wastage and save the tree, and indirectly save the environment from further devastation. If you have any comments/suggestions to this article, don’t hesitate to let us know.
This article is a continuity of the Print Smart to Reduce Wasted Paper – Part 1 [How To].