Looking for some color in a black and white world
October 4, 2008 1:33 AM   Subscribe

It seems that I have completely run out of black ink, but I have a new color cartridge in my HP All-in-one printer (F2120). I want to print out pdfs of crossword puzzles that I've downloaded from the internet. The pdfs only utilize black ink. I want to print them out in a color (red, green, blue.. I don't care), so that the puzzle and clues all appear in the same (non-black) color. I'm using Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Professional for Win2k. Is there any easy way to do this? Is it even possible? Have I provided enough info?
posted by Mael Oui to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Hrm... I would think you'd need to focus on changing the content's color itself, either within Acrobat or in another application.

I actually don't have a professional edition of Acrobat anywhere, but you should definitely be able to select editable regions and change their color.

This should let them print even in the absence of a black cartridge, but some printers throw a fit.

As for simply telling the printer to use "red" for "black", that sounds hack-ish, down to a firmware or middle-ware type level, and beyond the scope of something like this; but I could be wrong. I just don't think you can simply reassign colors in a printer that easily.

Alternatively, you could use an image editing like The Gimp or Photoshop Express and use the hue/saturation features in either to color-shift the entire document. (I'm not sure either of those take kindly to PDF source files, though, so you might get stuck print-screening into a graphic, which could easily kill off quality.)
posted by disillusioned at 1:49 AM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I don't think I explained myself very well at all (I never do for computer-y things)! I did mean that I want to change the content's color within Acrobat.. not actually alter my printer or printer settings in any way. You just said it much, much better than I did! The pdfs don't appear editable (though, I'm not an Acrobat expert). I've tried looking through the help files that come with the program, and all color articles seem to be about ensuring that colors print out the way they appear on the screen, which isn't what I'm looking for.

I'm still kind of hoping it's possible to do all this within Acrobat, but your last idea is interesting. I've got Photoshop, and it very well might be possible to open pdfs in it and change the saturation. That's something I'm going to keep in the back of my mind! Thanks for that hint, disillusioned!
posted by Mael Oui at 2:26 AM on October 4, 2008

If you've got Photoshop, you'll definitely be able to open PDFs in it, and then use Image -> Hue/Saturation to change the color on the entire image, and even print from PS or export as a saved PDF.

posted by disillusioned at 2:59 AM on October 4, 2008

Inkscape can open some PDFs:

1. Open the PDF in Inkscape.
2. Ungroup everything (Ctrl-Shift-G) since it comes in as a group.
3. Set the stroke to blue or red or whatever (Ctrl-Shift-F, Stroke Tab, change the color)
4. Save as a PDF.
5. Print out in Acrobat Reader (I've never gotten Inkscape to print right).
posted by ostranenie at 5:52 AM on October 4, 2008

I don't know about the HP in question, but I have a Canon printer whose OSX drivers let you choose an advanced setting for "true black" (black cartridge) or "photo black" that combines CMY into a muddyish brown. I know you were looking for a file-modifying solution, but heck, it's worth a shot to dig through your Advanced settings?
posted by rokusan at 7:15 AM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know about HP printers, but does each color have a different cartridge? Whenever I run out of black ink in my Canon (which has different cartridges for each color) I will take a cartridge from a different color, and put it in the black slot (my printer does not seem to notice when there is a different color/missing cartridges).
posted by ooklala at 2:07 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you, disillusioned! I think that will work, and I never would have thought of it! And, on the off-chance that it doesn't, I'll give Inkscape a try, ostranenie! It's good to have as many options as possible!

I'm really not sure about the advanced printer settings, rokusan, but I'll look to see if that's an option. I don't really care about poor quality or strange-ish colors, so that would be a great option. It's possible that this setting exists on my printer, and I just didn't realize the difference between the blacks! I didn't know you could switch cartridges like that, ooklala! My printer doesn't have separate cartridges for the different colors, unfortunately, but that's still a good bit of knowledge!

Thank you all for your responses! I'm certain at least one of your ideas will be successful!
posted by Mael Oui at 9:02 PM on October 4, 2008

Also potential easy, depending on what kind of printer you haveā€”on my Canon printer, there's a print setting I can change that filters everything to take on a certain tint. So usually when I run out of black ink but have plenty of color ink left, I set that filter to tint everything blue. Might want to check and see if your printer has a setting like that.
posted by limeonaire at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: Yikes, the hue/saturation thing didn't really work. I don't recommend doing that. The text in the pdf is incredibly blurry and barely readable. On to Inkscape!
posted by Mael Oui at 11:12 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: I have an HP All-in-one printer.. There's definitely a lot of untapped options on the printer and in all the hardware and software I have. A lot of settings I have no idea exist. I'm pretty sure that I don't have any such setting on my printer, though, limeonaire. Looks like my next printer should be a Canon! Is that setting accessed on the printer itself (a button), or do you access it through the printer settings (on the computer)?
posted by Mael Oui at 11:29 PM on October 4, 2008

Response by poster: (Since I was prompted to choose a 'best answer' for this question:) For anyone looking for a solution to this problem in the future, I just ended up buying a new cartridge. Although I appreciated (and attempted) all the suggestions, none of them were successful for me.
posted by Mael Oui at 11:25 PM on November 13, 2008

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