Skip to Content

How do I set my hp printer to single-cartridge mode?

Using only one print cartridge in your HP printer, also known as single-cartridge mode, can be a cost-effective way to reduce ink usage. While printing quality may decrease, printing in single-cartridge mode allows you to continue printing even when one cartridge runs out. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set your HP printer to single-cartridge mode.

Check Printer Compatibility

Not all HP printer models support single-cartridge mode. To check if your printer is compatible:

  1. Refer to your printer’s user manual or search for your printer model on HP’s website.
  2. See if there is a mention of “single-cartridge mode” or instructions for printing with only one cartridge.
  3. Some older HP models like the Deskjet 900 series are known to support single-cartridge mode.
  4. Newer HP models like the ENVY and OfficeJet Pro series also support this feature.

If you cannot find definitive confirmation that your printer supports single-cartridge printing, try the steps below to set the mode manually.

Remove One Print Cartridge

Start by removing one of the print cartridges from your HP printer:

  1. Open the printer’s access door where the cartridges are installed.
  2. Press down on the cartridge you wish to remove and pull it upwards.
  3. Place the removed print cartridge in an airtight plastic bag to prevent drying.
  4. Leave the other cartridge intact in your printer.

With only one cartridge remaining in the printer, you are ready to set single-cartridge mode.

Set the Printer to Single-Cartridge Mode

There are two main ways to enable single-cartridge mode on an HP printer – through the printer settings menu or using the HP printer software:

Via Printer Settings Menu

  1. Turn your printer on and access the settings menu from the control panel.
  2. Navigate to the “Printing Preferences” or “Print Options” menu.
  3. Look for a setting called “Single Cartridge Mode” and enable it.
  4. On some models this may be labeled as “Ink Backup Mode”.
  5. Turn the printer off and back on for the changes to take effect.

Via HP Printer Software

  1. Open the HP printer software installed on your computer.
  2. Go to the “Printing Preferences” or “Printer Settings” menu.
  3. Click on the tab relating to ink cartridges.
  4. Enable the option for “Single Cartridge Mode” or “Ink Backup Mode”.
  5. Click “Apply” for the changes to be saved.

If you see a message about ink levels being low but can still proceed with printing, your printer is now set to single-cartridge mode.

Printing in Single-Cartridge Mode

Here are some tips for printing with only one ink cartridge in your HP printer:

  • Print quality will decrease, with colors appearing less vibrant.
  • Black ink may take on a slight color tint if the color cartridge was removed.
  • Only remove the tri-color cartridge if you plan to print mainly text documents.
  • Print a test page first to check if quality is acceptable for your needs.
  • Consider switching to draft quality or grayscale mode to conserve ink.
  • Clean the printheads from the printer software for better ink distribution.

To check how much ink remains in the cartridge, access the “Ink Levels” menu from the printer settings or software. When the cartridge runs out, replace it with a new one and reset the printer to dual-cartridge mode.

Reset Printer to Dual-Cartridge Mode

When you have both cartridges installed again, you will need to disable single-cartridge mode. Here is how to reset the printer to use both cartridges:

  1. Return to the “Printing Preferences” menu, either on the printer or in the HP software.
  2. Turn off the “Single Cartridge Mode” or “Ink Backup Mode” setting.
  3. Click “Apply” and close the printer settings.
  4. Turn the printer off and on again for the changes to take effect.

The printer will now default back to using both cartridges for regular dual-cartridge printing.


Setting your HP printer to single-cartridge mode is a handy way to cut printing costs in a pinch. While print quality decreases, it allows you to keep printing with one ink cartridge. Refer to your printer model’s compatibility, then set the mode through the printer settings or HP software. When the in-use cartridge runs out, replace it and disable single-cartridge mode for optimal print quality again.

Printer Model Single-Cartridge Mode Support
HP Deskjet 900 series Yes
HP ENVY 5000 series Yes
HP OfficeJet Pro 8020 series Yes
HP OfficeJet Pro 9010 series Yes

This table shows a selection of HP printer models and whether they support single-cartridge mode based on our research. As you can see, both older and newer HP printers allow printing with only one ink cartridge installed. Refer to your printer’s user guide or check with HP support to confirm compatibility.