The Linux Page

HP Printer options not offering "Color: Off" option anymore

Here is a picture of my old LaserJet 2550L which I use as a black & white printer.

My old LaserJet 2550L printer which I use with Linux Ubuntu.


HP Color LaserJet Pro Multifunction M479fdn Laser PrinterI now upgraded my printer. The old one just gave up completely and only printed white pages.

My new printer is a multifunction from HP the HP Color LaserJet Pro Multifunction M479fdn Laser Printer. I don't print that much so that's a good model for my needs.

The one main issue I run into once in a while, a document just doesn't get through. The printer sits there with a message saying it's working on it, but nothing happens. Since it normally prints within seconds, that's not a normal state. The one way to fix this issue: turn off the printer, restart it and try again. If you did not cancel the job before turning the printer off, it may try again automatically. On my end I have been deleting the jobs before the power cycle so I do not know whether that works or not.

WARNING: There are several versions. I took the one without the WiFi. I really don't need yet another WiFi signal at my place. Between our cell phones, laptops, AND NEIGHBORS, we're covered. The Printer can be connected on my LAN and we can use our WiFi router which is behind our firewall... or directly the LAN which means documents get there close to instantaneously (at 1Gbit/s, it's really fast). All that said, there are some people who prefer to get the version with the WiFi capability, in that case, check out the HP Color LaserJet Pro Multifunction M479fdw Wireless Laser Printer.

If you print just a few pages per month, you may want to consider the smaller model: HP LaserJet Pro Multifunction M428fdn. Make sure to click on the M428fdw under Model if you want to get the WiFi functionality.

Ubuntu 18.04

I now have Ubuntu 18.04 and things have changed again.

Today I need to print an invoice for a customer and so I spent some time setting up my old printer. First of all, I connected the USB cable and the rest was mostly automatic. The system automatically discovered the printer, downloaded the necessary driver, and made the printer available. That being said, the default "Add Printer" button is grayed out and that looks strange. Why have a button if you do not offer your users to click on it?

As usualy, the default is to make the printer available in Color mode. Logical, it's a color printer after all. Only it doesn't work in color (I don't spend the $750 to replace the Yellow, Magenta, Blue cartriges!) Actually, Linux is great, it is capable of printing even though the printer does not have the color cartriges. Yes. You guessed it, MS-Windows fails completely on that one. If you have MS-Windows they tell you something wrong with your printer and you can't print squat.

Anyway... I went to the preferences and I can see the option in there, but somehow all the preferences are grayed out too (so not the just Add Printer button). I think that the preferences think I don't have enough permissions. The interesting thing is that I'm part of the lpadmin group (actually, somehow that was my primary group for a while).

Instead, I had to go through the CUPS interface via HTTP. So I opened my browser and entered:


With that, I navigated to the Administration panel (top menu).

Here I searched for a button labelled "Manager Printers".

That pages shows me a list of printers, I clicked on the hp-color-LaserJet-2550-series. Now I'm close...

There is a dropdown menu in that screen. One of the menu items is "Set Default Otions". Selecting it brings me to a set of tabs with many options I can select. Once done, I clicked on "Save Default Options".

Note that you can navigate between the tabs without losing your previous selections. For me, it was mainly going to the "Color Options" tab and then selecting "On" for the "Print Color as Gray" option.

You may change any one of the options such as the default tray, the type of sheets you use, whether to always print banners, etc.

At the time you hit "Save Default Options", it asks you for your password. Make sure to enter your Linux user name and password. Assuming you have enough permissions to update the data (i.e. you are part of the lpadmin group) then it should work as expected.

Commands of Interrest

To see the list of available printers and all the details about them, use:

lpstat -l -p

Older Versions (13.10 and older)

As I upgraded to Ubuntu 13.10, I noticed that I lost the option to turn off the color when printing.

Looking around all the available options, no one to make it black and white (although the old option was saying something like: Color: Off; it was somewhat weird.)

Now that option is completely gone. There is no way for me to turn off my HP Printer color when I am in Acrobate or LibreOffice. I searched on the Internet to see whether that was just HP trying to get you to use colors on your printer or whether the option was available... somewhere else.

Indeed, I had to go to the System Settings, Printers, and there right click on my laser HP printer (LaserJet 2550L, but I'm sure it applies to all HP settings, maybe all cups settings?) That gives me system wide settings and there I can set Color: black and white.

The problem, obviously, if you want to turn color back on, you have to do that in the global printer settings again. Not practical. But I print like 1 document a year in color, so not a big deal for me.