An inkjet printer is a wonderful tool, but quality can suffer when ink levels run low. Even the best printer in the world can’t help you if ink completely runs out.
Given the importance of maintaining a good supply of ink, it should be easy to find out how much remains, and the top names in printing do a nice job with this. Let’s take a look at how to check ink levels on an HP, Canon, Epson, and Brother printer.
Checking ink on an HP printer
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HP’s Instant Ink program makes ink refills automatic. The printer monitors ink levels and attempts to send replacement ink before a cartridge runs out. That means you might not even need to check ink levels if you subscribe to this program.
Some HP inkjet printers, like the workhorse HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e and the affordable HP Envy Inspire 7955e include six months of free ink. If you don’t have HP Instant Ink, the trial has ended, or you simply want to check the levels before starting a big print job, using the mobile app is a convenient way to find out.
Open the HP Smart mobile app. You should see the printer model at the top with a bar graph of your ink levels at the right. If you have more than one HP printer, scroll sideways to see other models.
Checking ink on a Canon printer
Canon’s Auto-Replenishment program ships new ink to you when your printer detects that it’s running low. You must sign up through a Windows or Mac computer, but subscriptions will be possible through the mobile app in the second half of 2023.
Canon’s Pixma TS202 scored top place on our list of best printer deals. At under $50, Canon can’t be making money on the hardware, so it has to make a profit from the ink, and cartridges will need to be replaced more frequently. A printer like Canon’s Pixma TS302, on another of our best-of lists, can use high-yield cartridges that last longer.
Regardless of cartridge life, it’s good to check your printer’s ink levels periodically to get a sense of how quickly it’s dropping. That’s easiest with the mobile app. If you don’t already have the Canon Print app, install it from the iPhone App Store or Google Play Store.
Step 1: In the Canon Print app, select the printer at the bottom of the screen to see more information.
Step 2: On the next screen, you should see the ink levels appear in the center.
Checking ink on an Epson printer
Epson used to have a subscription ink service called ReadyInk, but they aren’t taking any new subscriptions at this time. If you own an Epson printer in the EcoTank series, you can still subscribe to a similar service called ReadyPrint.
The ink in printers like Epson’s EcoTank ET-2850 might last well over a year, so it’s easy to forget to order more. When you do, it comes in big bottles that replenish the tanks at the right front. Incidentally, you can see the ink level through translucent panels.
If you own a low-cost printer like the Expression Home XP-4200, you’ll want to keep a close eye on ink levels, since small cartridges run out quickly.
Step 1: To stay on top of ink levels when using an Epson printer, open the Epson Smart Panel app and select your printer at the top. You’ll see bar graphs showing how much ink remains for each color.
Step 2: To see the amount of ink remaining more clearly, select the ink graph and a larger version will be shown. The green bar at the far right is the ink waste capture cartridge which rarely needs to be changed.
Checking ink on a Brother printer
Brother printers often make it onto our list of best printers since they offer great value and typically have a long lifespan.
Like most inkjet manufacturers, Brother offers a subscription service that aims to get ink to you before you run out. EZ Auto Reordering ships more ink as your printer runs low.
You might still like to see how much remains, and the mobile app lets you check remotely.
Step 1: Open Brother’s iPrint&Scan app, then tap Supplies/Machine Settings to see the details.
Step 2: A bar graph will be shown of your remaining ink or, in my case, toner.
Checking from Windows
Your printer might have Windows software that lets you see ink levels. This is the quickest way, but if you don’t want to install extra printer software on your computer, there’s a universal method that works with most popular printers.
Step 1: From Windows Settings, select* Bluetooth & devices* from the left sidebar. Choose Printers & scanners on the right and pick the printer that you want to check.
Step 2: Select Device information in the More information section to reveal details about that printer. Use the clickable link labeled Webpage/ to open the printer’s web server.
Step 3: You might see a login screen. If you know your password, enter it. If you don’t you can still see supply details. In the address bar, delete everything to the right of the first “/” hit “enter.”
Step 4: You’ll see ink levels displayed regardless of whether you use an HP, Canon, Epson, or Brother printer.
Checking from a Mac
If you’ve already installed a macOS app from the printer manufacturer, that might be the quickest way to see how much ink remains. If not, you can check your printer’s ink levels in System Settings.
Step 1: Use the search box at the top left to look for printer settings, or scroll down and select Printers & Scanners from the left sidebar.
Step 2: Select your printer from the list.
Step 3: Under Location choose the Options & Supplies button.
Step 4: A new window will open, and you’ll find ink levels on the Supplies tab.
If you cannot check ink levels, it could mean your printer is offline or in sleep mode. In that case, go to the printer and cycle the power off and on to ensure it’s awake and accessible. After this reset, the printer should share information about the remaining ink supplies.
Try the Windows or Mac methods, a mobile app, or navigate the printer’s built-in menu system to check ink levels. The controls vary, but if you browse the options, you should find a section called status or supplies, which will show your printer’s current ink levels.
Checking ink levels is a good idea, particularly before using expensive paper or beginning a large print job. When ink runs low in the middle of a print, the colors might lose accuracy and gaps might appear in images and text. It’s easy with the mobile app and not too hard from a computer.