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I've got a color inkjet printer, and I only have black ink left.

I want my printer to automatically convert all colors printed to a grayscale equivalent.

I'd like a solution that works with any printer, not just my specific printer.

Is this possible using a virtual printer or something like that?

Note that as stated in the title, I'd love to be able to do this automatically, so I don't have to select options in a print dialog every time.

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A "one-size-fits-all" approach may not be possible, as different printers have different capabilities and driver controls for specifying Black ink only.

You could try the Color Matching pane of the print dialog: select ColorSync, and select a Greyscale or Black & White color profile. However, even if you do this, some printers may still try to print this as a '4-color Black', to spread the ink usage across all the cartridges.

Your best option is to determine what controls your printer has (if any) for printing to Black ink only: then select them in the print dialog and save as a Print Preset.

  • 1
    The Printer Features option in the macOS Print Dialog should have the ability to selectively print in greyscale should the printer support that feature. As @benwiggy suggests, printer manufacturers have different methods for achieving greyscale. – IconDaemon Jan 13 at 16:16
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Using the CUPS web interface, I was able to change the default setting for my Canon MX860 to greyscale from color. Previously, I had to go the the Printer Features dropdown in the macOS print dialog and change it manually for each print job. This greyscale setting persist between print jobs and system restarts. This may not be precisely what your looking for: a setting which will affect any and all printers attached to your computer at any time, but at least it sets greyscale as the default print option.

To use CUPS, you first need to enable the CUPS set interface in Terminal:

sudo cupsctl WebInterface=yes

and use an administrator's password to authenticate.

Once the Web interface has been enabled, access CUPS by going to this URL in the browser of your choice:

localhost:631/printers

Then under the Administration drop-down for the printer of your choice, choose Set Default Options, which leads to this settings sheet:

enter image description here

I would suggest you disable web access to CUPS when you are done. I'm not sure what kind of nefarious access to your machine can be accomplished through CUPS, but you never know:

sudo cupsctl WebInterface=no

  • I tried this and it gave me similar options, but different of course, since my printer is different. I had no option to turn on Grayscale by default though, but will play around some more. Thanks for the suggestion! – Brad Parks Jan 14 at 11:37

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