I'm getting the following error message in HP Photosmart C7200 series print dialog:

The printer is out of ink.

The following ink cartridges are empty: Magenta. Replace these ink cartridges to resume printing.

How can I make it print with the black and white cartridge only?

Mac OSX 10.7.3
HP Photosmart C7280 (7200 series)

  • 2
    1) You throw the printer that does not fullfill your needs to the trash. 2) You buy a different printer. Yes. Seriously. This is the definition of ripoff.
    – Sharky
    Nov 27, 2016 at 15:34

4 Answers 4


This has become a popular post so I'm copying over the answer from the official HP forums rather than linking to it.



Unfortunately it is not possible to print using the black and white while any of the ink cartridges are empty.

Using the Black ink only possible while there is color ink as well.

While the color ink is not required for prinitng purposes, it do required for ,maintnance operations of the device.

As the device contain an internal printhead (IIC system), lack of color ink will damage the printing system shortly. Therefore the device will not be functional when there is no ink in order to avoid damaging the system.

For users who wish to print using just black ink (despite the reduced print quality), many HP printers offer options. For example, a driver colour setting (by selecting "print in greyscale with the black cartridge only" in printing preferences) specifies printing using only black ink. In addition, many IPH printers can operate in "reserve mode", which allows the user to continue to print with just the black cartridge when the colour cartridge is removed or not installed.In HP IIC systems, all supplies are required to be installed in the printer for the printer to function



HP forum post


Just to clarify, the asker's actual printer couldn't actually print in just black. bit.ly/HsLpXa for information.

However, if you do have color and want to print in black, try this:

Go to Print and a window should pop up. Go to the drop down menu labeled "Copies & Pages."

Then select "Paper Type/ Quality."

And finally, under Paper > Color, select "Grayscale."

Or go to print, preview the item to be printed (It should open as a PDF), and there should be a dropdown menu where 'Preview' is selected. Click on 'Quality and Media', and check the 'Greyscale Printing' box.

I hope these help you!

  • I did that exactly and it gave me the same message again. BTW I had another option beneath the Color Options frame called, "Grayscale Options". It had two choices, "High Quality" and "Black ink cartridge only" with the later selected. I've read that some printers can't print if even one of the ink cartridges is empty. I'm thinking this may be the case for me... Apr 8, 2012 at 11:29
  • 1
    You can probably find out by asking on their website.
    – cutrightjm
    Apr 8, 2012 at 17:32
  • So did this actually work, or did you go and ask on their website? (just to clarify =p)
    – cutrightjm
    Apr 9, 2012 at 4:48
  • The steps you gave are correct but it's just that they don't work for my printer. I wasn't sure to mark it "answered". I didn't go to their site but found other posts stating that this series of printers are not able to print without all inks. I should check with the source... Apr 9, 2012 at 17:38
  • 1
    Confirmed. My printer doesn't support it. bit.ly/HsLpXa Apr 9, 2012 at 20:26

It might not be possible. I've read in a printer manual before that color inkjets use a small amount of color ink in black and white prints to clear the print heads.

If you rarely print in color or if you print enough black and white only to make it worth it, I would consider buying a separate black and white only printer.

  • A cheap laserjet printer is by far the best way to go for monochrome printing. They can be purchased for $100, and their cartridges last for hundreds of pages, rather than the dozens you get from an ink jet. Apr 17, 2013 at 13:40
  • 1
    Also, for you conspiracy theorists out there, this may be another reason why: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printer_steganography
    – LawrenceC
    Apr 17, 2013 at 16:26

This depends on the printer. On many printers with printheads built in, ink must be in the printhead at all times to prevent damage, although there may be a limited reserve of ink available for temporary printing.

  • From what I know, some newer HP printers, even IIC models where the printhead is built into the printer, do allow a limited amount of "reserve" printing when a cartridge runs out. At a minimum, the printer will likely try to complete the current print job; on my printer (HP Officejet Pro 8630), there is a limited ability to print with an exhausted cartridge.

  • I suspect that what the printer does is that it draws upon the ink already in the system to try to continue operation. Do note that if you do this, the printer may need to purge the remaining ink and reprime the system to clear air bubbles once you install a replacement cartridge which can consume more ink from the new cartridge.

  • It is important to bear in mind that HP and Canon inkjet printers use thermal printhead technology, which uses microscopic resistors on the printhead to heat the ink and cause it to bubble and spray out the nozzles at high speed. The intense (but highly localized) heating inherent to this process requires that ink be present in the printhead at all times to keep temperatures in check. If a thermal inkjet printhead is operated dry, it can literally burn itself out and fail.

  • If your printer is an IIC model, it is imperative that a full set of cartridges is always installed in the printer, and that the printer is never turned off with a missing cartridge. (This isn't an issue with IPH printers, because the printhead would be replaced with the cartridge anyway, while Epson and Brother inkjet printers use piezo printhead technology which is not subject to this limitation.)

This article explains in detail how ink is used in HP printers. The manual to the Officejet Pro 86x0 family, page 98 (PDF page 114), says this:

Printing with black or color ink only

For regular usage, this product is not designed to print using only the black cartridge when the color cartridges are out of ink.

However, your printer is designed to let you print as long as possible when your cartridges start to run out of ink.

When there is sufficient ink in the printhead, the printer will offer you the use of black ink only when one or more of the color cartridges are out of ink, and the use of color ink only when the black cartridge is out of ink.

  • The amount that you can print using black or color ink only is limited, so have replacement ink cartridges available when you are printing with black or color ink only.

  • When there is no longer sufficient ink to print you will get a message that one or more cartridges are depleted, and you will need to replace the depleted cartridges before you resume printing.

CAUTION: While ink cartridges are not damaged when left outside of the printer, the printhead does need to have all cartridges installed at all times after the printer is set up and in use. Leaving one or more cartridge slots empty for an extended period may lead to print quality problems and possibly damage the printhead. [...]

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