How do I get my Canon Pixma printer to use just black pigment (PGBK) ink for black and white documents?

  • Marked dupe may seem like the 'opposite', but it's really the same problem/solution (IMO anyway). Apr 19, 2015 at 17:02
  • Are you referring to suppressing the use of the dye-based inks in addition to the pigment black ink when printing text (they are normally used for the equivalent of "sub-pixel rendering" to enhance text)?
    – fixer1234
    Apr 19, 2015 at 18:26
  • Dear fixer1234 - yes, I think so. I'm trying to print a black and white (and grey) Adobe PDF document but my cyan cartridge has run out and it's coming out of the printer in shades of pink and brown.
    – user439121
    Apr 19, 2015 at 18:29
  • @user439121: FYI, you need to address comments like I did here or nobody will be aware of your posting. I found a very old post that said pigment-only was used only for printing ASCII text. That may be outdated. See if this link is helpful: randomzucchini.blogspot.com/2013/05/…. If that doesn't work, post back.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 20, 2015 at 0:11
  • 1
    @Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007: That is not a duplicate. It is the opposite, as you indicated, but you can't accomplish the reverse by doing the opposite of that solution. It's actually a different problem with a completely different solution. Voting to reopen.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 21, 2015 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


Most inkjet printers that have both pigment black ink and dye-based inks use some of the dye-based inks even for printing greyscale and text to improve the appearance. Creating grey from pigment black requires sparsely printing relatively large ink dots, which can look grainy. Dye-based ink can be printed in smaller droplets and are not as dark. With text, filling in imperfections in the characters with dye-based grey is similar to how ClearType improves the appearance of characters on the screen.

The process uses more cyan than the other colors, so if you are out of cyan, you will get weirdly colored results, as you discovered (that is, if you have a printer that will continue to operate if one ink color is out). Your printer is one that can.

This article describes how to set the printer to use only the pigment black cartridge. The author based this on his Canon PIXMA MG5320, but it looks like the instructions are good for most printers in the PIXMA line. There are separate considerations for single vs. double-sided printing. Quoting from the article:


For a simple 1-page document or photo, you need the following options. To set these options, you need to get to the print properties page. For example, in Adobe Reader XI these would be set by clicking on File > Print, and click the "Properties" button. In Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, these would be set by clicking on File > Print, click the "More Options" button, then select "Color Management", then click the "Printer Preferences" button:

  • Under "Commonly Used Profiles", click on the "Standard" profile (it may work with other profiles as well, but I haven't tested them).
  • Make sure "Duplex" is NOT selected.
  • Select "Grayscale"
  • Under "Media Type", select "Plain Paper" (it doesn't matter what kind of paper you're actually printing on, select "Plain Paper" regardless)
  • Under "Print Quality", select "High"

That's it - click OK. Click "Print" in your application. (Of course, you can also select your desired tray to print from and the paper size in the printer properties as well - that's up to you and whatever you require for your specific application.)


As above, you need to have automatic duplexing disabled for the printer to print using Pigment Black only (a post I found indicates Canon may have been concerned the Pigment Black ink would stick to the rollers and make a mess - it's possible, I don't know if that's actually true or not).

So, if automatic duplexing needs to be disabled, how do print on both sides of the paper? The answer is, you need to do it manually (sometimes referred to as "manual duplexing"). How do you do this specifically? Here is how I've done it with my printer (MG5320) and Adobe Reader XI. You can extrapolate for use with other applications - the process will be similar. Once you have your document, set the printer properties as above with the 1-page option and click "OK". Back at the main print dialog screen, configure the print job as follows:

  1. In the "Pages to Print" section, expand "More Options", select "Odd Pages Only" from the drop-down menu. Also select "Reverse pages".
  2. Click "Print".

After all the pages have printed on 1 side:

  1. Re-insert the printed pages into the paper tray as follows:

    • face up
    • in the same page order as the printer ends up with (ex, pick up the printed pages, put them back into the paper tray, do not re-sort them at all)
    • with the top of the pages to the back of the printer
  2. At the print dialog screen (File > Print), in the "Pages to Print" section, expand "More Options", select "Even Pages Only" from the drop-down menu. Also DE-SELECT "Reverse pages".

  3. Verify the print properties haven't changed - click "Properties", verify "Grayscale" is selected, "Duplex" is de-selected, "Print Quality" is set to "High", and "Media Type" is set to "Plain Paper".
  4. Click "OK", then "Print".
  • This helped heaps, thanks for the simple instructions
    – mateos
    Oct 2, 2018 at 5:22

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