I have no more black ink in my Canon MP560 printer.

All other colors print fine.

I need to print out an online train ticket.

When I print it out, I can't see any of the page that is in black (most of it, all the text).

I already printed it as a PDF so I can print it out later if I get some black ink in time.

But can anyone think of a creative way to tell the printer / printer driver / PDF software (Foxit) that it should replace all black pixels with e.g. very dark blue pixels so that I can at least print it out so that the barcode on the page can be scanned?

14 Answers 14


Maybe you can set an option in the printer driver to print black as composite from yellow, magenta and cyan.

  • 1
    Do you mean in the printer properties, I find options such as "manual color intensity" but nothing where I could map colors like that. Oct 24, 2010 at 19:14
  • Yes somewhere in the printer dialogue. What printer do you have? However I do not know what it is called exactly. But basically it is possible to mix black from the 3 other colors.
    – Martin
    Oct 24, 2010 at 19:15
  • I have a Canon MP560. Oct 24, 2010 at 19:17
  • 6
    I have found this for the iP90, maybe this is applicable for your printer, too: "The Canon Pixma iP90 introduces two features: Save Black Ink, which is similar to the Draft mode on other printers in that it reduces that colour's use by the printer; and Use Composite, which you can find in the drivers' Maintenance section under Ink Usage Control. Use Composite instructs the printer to fashion black out of colour ink when the former runs dry. Read more: reviews.cnet.co.uk/printers/canon-pixma-ip90-review-49282171/…"
    – Martin
    Oct 24, 2010 at 19:27
  • Converting the color black to blue as in frabjous' answer has the added benefit of saving colored ink. In order to print black from CYM, you'll need a lot of ink.
    – airstrike
    Jul 3, 2013 at 12:42

Install Ghostscript (first) and then ImageMagick, and then you can use the following command:

magick convert -density 300 input.pdf -fill blue -opaque black output.pdf

This will convert all the black in input.pdf with blue in output.pdf.

[Thanks to Nick's comment below for the part about ghostscript.]

Note added later: If you have a newer version of imagemagick that doesn't have a convert binary, use magick convert instead of simply convert.

  • 7
    Be sure to install GhostScript (ghostscript.com) before installing ImageMagick. This will allow it to work with PDF files.
    – Nick
    Feb 23, 2011 at 1:01
  • Perfect answer!
    – airstrike
    Jun 1, 2014 at 20:30
  • 8
    Did perfectly work on text pdf for me, but not for images. For image pdfs convert -density 300 input.pdf +level-colors blue,white output.pdf worked Jun 9, 2014 at 10:00
  • 1
    @MattSayar Done!
    – frabjous
    Nov 3, 2016 at 14:21
  • 4
    This (free) website seems to do this without the need to download and install anything: supertool.org/…
    – dca
    May 7, 2020 at 2:30

There's a free online tool that's built for this very purpose:


It took a little while to load and process, but it made it possible to print a return shipping label without black ink.

  • 1
    This comment and tool has saved me so many times, thanks!
    – kR105
    May 17, 2021 at 18:58
  • 1
    This isn't free anymore Nov 8, 2022 at 9:40

An addendum to frabjous' answer requiring Ghostscript and ImageMagick are installed, including the updates according to Alexander Taubenkorb's comment.

This still didn't work because I had the problem that the 'gray' of my image was not pure gray. To overcome this I switch the colorspace “back and forth” to ensure there is a clean definition of ‘gray’ to be converted to blue in that final command.

convert -density 300 input.pdf -colorspace RGB -colorspace Gray tmp1.pdf

convert -density 300 tmp1.pdf -colorspace Gray -colorspace RGB tmp2.pdf

convert -density 300 tmp2.pdf +level-colors blue,white output.pdf


For Canon MG3600 I could find an option to select only the "Color Cartridge". From the print dialog, select Properties > Maintenance > Ink Cartridge Settings > Color Only.

I think it make color composite to give black, as the result was indeed black although I my black cartridge is empty.

enter image description here

  • Amazing, this should be an accepted answer Jul 31, 2020 at 11:11

I followed frabjous's answer above and changed the command like this.

magick.exe -density 300 "input.pdf" -fuzz 50% -fill red -opaque black "output.pdf"

Worked perfectly, worked in text as well as images in the pdf too.


You can change the colour of font settings in Adobe Acrobat. After doing that it still tries to print black on the font but fear not. If you manage to change the font colour, change the advanced setting in (HP at least) to print as picture and it will print in dark blue.

I discovered this by chance, hopefully it helps someone else!


For the record: just remove the empty black cartridge and print document as image (print -> advanced tab -> tick "print as image") - your printer will do its best to reproduce blacks using only the color cartridge. It will not be perfect, but for me it managed to produce a rather convincing dark blueish-grayish tone.

*I used Acrobat DC with a HP Deskjet 2620


I don't know about the print drivers or PDF part, but I would save the PDF as a graphic and use an editor (like gimp or something) to select all of a color (black) and change it to blue.

  • I had similar desire (change colors) but for aesthetic reasons. Doing it with gimp didn't yield nice results (I lost text sharpness), maybe because of my inability to do it right. In any case it's cumbersome if you want to print multiple pages. Feb 9, 2015 at 17:24
  • I agree Gimp probably isn't the right tool. If you don't have Acrobat, Illustrator and need a free tool to modify a PDF, I would look at Inkscape (inkscape.org). Inkscape may have a font substitution problem depending on what the PDF uses and your system. Gimp will rasterize text, so you would need to open the page at a high dpi for text to appear smooth. I would say at least the resolution you intend to print at. But Inkscape would be a better choice. Feb 10, 2015 at 3:21
  • In my case I have scanned PDFs so not actually text but I see what you mean.. still @frabjous answer is easier. Feb 10, 2015 at 8:11

A brute force method, if you only need the bar-code, is to print screen and open the picture in your favorite photo editing program to manually shift the colors.


In a HP Deskjet and probably most printers, I just change the setting to print as if its an image or photograph. Works perfectly as it prints the black from the combo in the colour cartridge.


EDIT: after posting this answer, I realized the print still comes out in black. It's only the screen view that changes (at least in my PDF reader). But it still provides a solution because you can then print a screenshot. I pasted my screenshot into Word and dragged the corner of the image to make it a bit bigger before printing it.

Some PDF readers let you do it as an Accessibility setting under Preferences.

For example, Foxit Reader does it here:

enter image description here

I read somewhere that Adobe reader has a similar setting.


[Mac] Open your PDF from within Colorsync Utility. At the bottom of preview window, there's a dropdown box. Select the "blue tone" filter. Save as a new PDF. Works great!


Try this

convert -density 300 vinted-pdf-1.pdf -fill blue +opaque white,gray image.pdf

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .