Save Ink And Paper When Printing Webpages

Printer ink is more expensive per ml than oil or caviar so it is worth trying to save ink and paper when printing out a webpage.

Printing in grayscale and/or draft mode may help but you still end up printing unnecessary banners, adverts and sidebars etc – and it doesn’t help if you need a color print in decent quality…

The PrintWhatYouLike tool offers a more effective way to save ink and paper – just print the parts of the page you want!

PrintWhatYouLike (PWYL) – lets you choose which elements of the page you want to keep – avoiding unwanted adverts, animations and junk. As an example, here is a sample Lifehacker page before any editing:

print what you like

Sample Webpage

Here is the same page after using the PrintWhatYouLike editing tool to remove unwanted elements from the page:


After PWYL Editing

The left sidebar is the PWYL menu – the rest of the page is the original article with all the adverts and rubbish removed, clearly going to save a ton of ink!

[Note: I left in some pictures but could have removed these too with just a single click. Likewise I could have easily changed all the green text to black if required].

There are three options for using the PWYL tool:

1. Online – No Installation Required

Visit the PrintWhatYouLike website and enter the URL (address) of the website page you want to print. PWYL displays the page with a left sidebar menu.

As you move the cursor around the page, elements of it are highlighted in red – if you haven’t worked with inline element editors before you will soon learn how to choose specific areas – you can select a whole page, paragraph, title or heading etc.

Clicking a highlighted element displays a sub-menu:


PWYL Sub Menu

Using this menu you can ‘Remove’ the contents of an element from the page (get rid of junk) or ‘Isolate’ it which keeps only this selected element – great for extracting just the main article on a page.

This online method is useful if you only want to save ink and paper very occasionally – and it gives you the chance to have a play using PWYL options without having to install anything. However, it requires manual entry of the URL which is too cumbersome for frequent use – and you can’t use it for a secure URL e.g. a shopping basket where you have to be logged into a site to view that page.

For easier use on any webpage, use one of the following two methods.

2. Browser Bookmarklet

A bookmarklet is a piece of code stored as a button in the bookmarks toolbar of the web browser. See the instructions here to install it in your browser – IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome etc are all supported.

Once installed, click the PrintWhatYouLike button to display the PWYL editor in the left of the page and start editing away, just as in the previous method.

3. Chrome Extension

Users of Chrome can install the bookmarklet from the previous method but, if you don’t want to have to display the bookmarks toolbar, there is a Chrome specific extension.

The highly rated Chrome Extension can be installed from Chrome’s webstore here.

Other Features

The PWYL side menu offers a variety of quick options to hide images, background or margins and there is an Undo button to revert any changes if they don’t look right. There is also an option to save the webpage to PDF or HTML instead of (or as well as) printing it. The PDF option works very well and is a simple way to create a PDF of a webpage for easy storage or sharing.

Note: the ‘Save As’ feature sends the content of the page to the server and third parties (to perform the conversion) – so don’t try to ‘Save’ a webpage with personal or secret info on it.


PrintWhatYouLike is an excellent way to hide unwanted elements of a page and remove junk or pictures.

It offers a strong feature set and a variety of methods to use it. PWYL is a helpful tool to save ink and paper when printing webpages – and the online version lets you experiment without even installing anything.

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