How to use the other black ink cartridge when one is empty on your Canon Pixma MX850 Printer!

My Canon Pixma MX850 printer is one of the Canon series that uses the 4 small CLI-8 color cartridges (black, yellow, blue and magenta) and then has the large PGI-5 black cartridge, which is what the printer uses when printing regular black and white text. The smaller CLI-8 black cartridge is only used for printing photos and colored documents that require black coloration… now, in the world that us simple folk live in, you would think that if one black runs out, it would use the other black as a backup, right? Not so my friends, the Canon doesn’t use that kind of logic and there’s no way to bypass it within the printer’s menu. BUT FEAR NOT! With a couple of clicks, you can trick the printer in to using the other cartridge.

First off, this applies to when your large black cartridge is empty… the one used for printing standard black and white documents. So if you’re printing out your thesis at 4AM when everything is closed and run out of ink mid-way through, this will save your ink-starved derriere! Here’s how to force the printer to use the smaller ink cartridge:

  1. Click on print to get the print options window in whatever program you’re using… This is the window where you normally select the printer you want to use, how many copies etc.
  2. Within that window, you should see a link, button or icon that allows you to adjust the printer settings, such as paper, paper source, ink use etc.
  3. Switch the paper type from regular paper to “high resolution paper”.
  4. Click OK and close the settings window.
  5. Print your document.
  6. Post a comment on this post telling me if it worked.
  7. Mail me your underwear a check.


Hope that helps someone out there!  It saved my ass last weekend when I had to print tickets with barcodes 20 minutes before leaving for the St. Sauveur Aquapark!