From the Tips Box: Easy Selective Printing, Lightening Your Wallet by Scanning, and Scroll Wheel Zooming

By Jason Fitzpatrick on April 7th, 2011


It’s time to bust open the tip box and share some of this weeks reader tips. Today we’re looking at an easy way to print selectively and squeeze out extra prints, how to backup and lighten your wallet, and the oft over looked scroll wheel zooming.

Selective Printing and Cleaning Your Print Heads


Several readers wrote in after our piece on how to print more efficiently with tips of their own. We shared some software and add-on tricks to help you print selectively. Reader Robert shared a trick that requires no add-ons or tweak at all:

One trick I use when I need to print a lot of text with little to no images: I simply drag my pointer over the text that I want to print ( the print should highlight) I then click on “print” under the file menu. When the print dialog box appears I click on “selection” and click “OK”. The printer will only print what I dragged the pointer over and  highlighted. This saves a lot of ink although, sometimes, the printed output can be small and hard to read.

You don’t get the fine tuned control you get when using some of the bookmarklets we shared but it’s available on almost everywhere. Thanks for sharing Robert!

Nicholas wrote in with another printing tip. Although he has a color printer he ignores the color cartridges for most of his printing needs:

My favorite tip is to set the printer to default to grey-scale printing (also known as ‘print color images in black and white’).

Too often, such as when printing a web page, you find yourself printing in color,  or partly in color, quite unnecessarily.

Black ink cartridges are usually cheaper than color cartridges and easier to refill.

Indeed, black ink is cheaper and generally easier to refill. Defaulting to grey-scale is a great way to stop paying for somebody else’s color choices.

Finally JT wrote in with a quick and dirty way to extend the life of his printer cartridges:

My little desktop HP was producing fading and skipping on print outs. Plus it was churning and churning and not printing at times. I took some alcohol wipes and cleaned print heads, cartridge heads, rollers, every accessible moving part or printing part. It was remarkable – my machine and pages were perfect.

Now when my print cartridges seem empty, I clean both printing contact points with an alcohol wipe and I can get about 20-30 additional print pages.

This trick is especially useful if you’re trying to squeeze out some prints on an inkjet printer you haven’t used in awhile. Inkjets are much better about cleaning their print nozzles than they used to be but things can still get gummed up.

Lighten Your Wallet with Your Scanner


Bob wrote in with a way to backup your wallet in case you ever end up away from home without a necessary piece of ID:

After realizing that I had left my wallet (containing my license) at home I began to think of ways to back up my license in case I did this again.

Many years ago, the fact that I had memorized my license number saved me a ticket so…  I scanned my license into the computer and sent it to my cell phone.  Although it may not save me a ticket, it just might if I can show it to a savvy trooper.

While it’s best not to rely on a scanned copy of your critical ID on your smartphone to get you out of a jam it’s a great last-ditch backup. Also less critical cards like saver cards and loyalty cards can easily be scanned this way. Most smart phone screens will work with a barcode reader just fine.

Zoom with the Scroll Wheel


Seung writes in with a handy scroll-wheel based tip:

In Windows systems, if you hold the Control key and turn the wheel on your mouse, you can make the things on the current open window larger or smaller depending the direction of the turn of the wheel.

While many people know about scroll-zooming in web browsers, this trick works just about everywhere in Windows including allowing you to easily increase and decrease the size of icons within Windows Explorer and on the Windows Desktop. Try CTRL+Scroll Wheel anywhere you need a closer look.

Have a great tip or trick you want to share with the How-To Geek audience? Shoot us an email at and we’ll see what we can do to get your tip on the front page.


Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/7/11
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