Have Mac, will print. Even in the digital age we still print. Photos. Documents. Email. As a veteran Mac user I’ve developed a love hate relationship with inkjet printers. I love it when a photo prints out in glorious, glossy color.
I hate it when I find out the same printed photo would cost half as much at Walmart. I hate it when my printer runs out of ink just after starting a multi-page print job. Oh, for a Mac app that warns about ink levels.
Ink Is My Economic Stimulus Plan
One of my side jobs at the school where I work as a Mac system administrator, troubleshooter, and app-fixer-upper is to keep those inkjet printers supplied with their daily dose of ink.
It’s my personal inkjet problems multiplied by 50 printers.
My cursory calculations indicate that I’m doing more than my fair share at stimulating the U.S. economy with inkjet purchases, and do-it-yourself ink cartridge fill ups. What I really want is an early warning system, a single Mac app that says, “Hey, over here. I need more ink. In this color. Today.”
Our school has inkjet printers of all shapes and sizes, all connected to a few hundred Macs, all run out of ink at different times, and each printer brand has a different utility to check ink levels. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
InkLevel: The Ink Level Checking App
As I scoured the Mac internet looking for apps for teachers, apps for students, apps for parents, and apps to make my life easier, I came across InkLevel. Eureka!
InkLevel is a utility for checking ink levels and printer status. You can check ink levels and printer status of Canon, EPSON and HP printers that are connected to your USB port or AirPort base station. And a network printer that is discovered by Bonjour is also available.
Could it be? A single Mac app to check a bunch of printers and report back to me on ink status? So, I downloaded InkLevel, found a bunch of our school’s printers on the list of semi-supported printers, and fired it up.
First on the list was our beloved, speedy, troublesome Canon i9900. It goes through ink faster than Sarah Palin goes through palm teleprompter ink. It worked. Sort of.
InkLevel found the printer, checked the printer’s ink wells, and correctly reported the levels (as verified by the levels in Apple’s printer utility). Alas, additional results were mixed. InkLevel found our aging network HP 6127 printer but identified full ink cartridges as empty.
On another HP printer, a newer Photosmart series, InkLevel identified the wrong cartridges, and identified them as all full when they were not.
Yet, InkLevel worked fine on some of our Epson and Brother printers, all discoverable via Bonjour.
The verdict? Caveat emptor. If InkLevel works for you and your printer, great.
If not, do what I do and realize that manually checking each printer (at home or an office network), with each printer’s ink level checker, is an adventure in job security. Oh, and it builds character.
One app that either resides on each Mac and checks printer ink levels from time to time, or an app that scans a network for printers, and reports back with ink levels would be worth it’s weight in gold. Or, about the price of a package of printer ink cartridges. Same thing.