Believe me. I have seen fellow office workers subscribe to online phone bills and go green, only to print them out on office stationary and ink. Paradoxical but just a sign of the quirky times we live in. I really don’t advocate printing emails for the simple reason of saving paper and protecting trees. Then, the email in bits and bytes is far more permanent than anything printed out. This is the best time to go paperless.
But yes, there are situations when you have to print out emails. For instance, you might need to submit it as a physical document. You might want to have a physical receipt as a backup. For some, emails are more emotionally effective.
So, in the off-chance that you deny yourself a paperless existence and want to print out emails, do it well. Here’s a little primer on everything you need to know about printing emails.
When Should We Print Emails…and When We Shouldn’t
Let’s come back to the argument for a brief spell and look again at the two sides of it. One of the reasons I personally don’t like to print emails because it takes the email out of context. It is much better to keep an email organized with tags and flags for instant recall rather than file away a printed copy. Let me redirect you for a bit to the Think Before Printing campaign website which says that over 50% of pages printed are never looked at. The statistic may or may be accurate, but the sentiment is spot on.
But sometimes, you just have to print an email. It could be a plane ticket, a hotel reservation, a receipt that you have to submit for tax, a discount coupon, or an email that you want to keep when offline. So, it really pays in green to be aware of the best ways to print emails while minimizing the environmental impact.
The Simplest Print Tip to Follow Always
Look at this screenshot where I am trying to print an email using the browser’s Print button:
Now, take a look at this screen, where I have used the email app’s own Print control that’s located above the email:
It is clear that using the email app’s own print function gives you a more printer-friendly format than the mother button located on the browser. The browser’s print button will include elements like the page background too which is unwanted.
This simple method seems intuitive but it isn’t so always as some of us use the browser’s print function and get all the unwanted page elements in the printout. What’s true for Gmail in the above screenshot is true for all web clients. Use the email client’s own Print control to get better printer-friendly emails. But it still does not get rid of the ads. So…
It’s not only about hitting the Print Button
We all know how to do that don’t we. If you don’t know how to print email messages in Outlook and Gmail, follow the links to the respective Help pages and you shall. These two are the two most popular email clients (desktop and online) out there. For other email clients, you can easily Google and find out their respective methods. It is dead easy.
What is not so obvious is that there are multiple tips to how to print emails effectively. Let’s look at some.
Remove Unwanted Web Page Elements like Ads before Printing
It is a common occurrence with online reservations and e-tickets. They are chockfull of ads. The simple tip above removes some of them but not all. Blitzing them away from the main content needs the help of a few browser add-ons. Generically called ‘Printer Friendly’ extensions, there are few of them around on the Chrome Web Store and Firefox Add-ons Gallery.
Unfortunately, Chrome extensions like Print What You Like and Print Friendly will work on webpages, but not on Gmail. Google wouldn’t want you to remove ads in its own email client and browser, would it!
But Firefox does not suffer from the same handicap. So we turn to a similar add-on called…
Print Edit (Firefox): This is a featured Firefox add-on that allows you to edit the webpage in a print preview mode before you print it. You can format, hide, or delete any page element. Read our review here.
How to Print Emails in Bulk on Gmail
This is a question we have been asked quite often, and our readers have responded with a slew of suggestions.
Open each Gmail in its own tab
Hold down Shift when clicking on the emails. Move through each tab using CTRL+TAB and add them to the printer queue by clicking on Print. This is a bit laborious but probably the simplest way to print a few emails. Though, I wouldn’t advocate it for more than a handful.
Use a desktop email client
You can use an email client like Microsoft Outlook to access your Gmail messages via IMAP. Outlook 2010 allows you to select multiple emails and print them in bulk.
1. Select the emails you want to print. Go to File – Print. Alternatively, use CTRL+P.
2. Choose your printer, and under Settings, select Memo Style. You can print preview your emails on the right before you click on Print.
3. You can also choose selected pages to print out instead of the entire email. You can open up Print Options and set up your printing job. With a selection under Print Options, you can print attachments too.
4. Outlook also includes a Quick Print option under the right-click context menu and the Quick Access toolbar on top. The Quick Print bypasses the Print dialog and directly prints to your default printer.
Use the free Mozilla Thunderbird
You can also use a free desktop client like Thunderbird to handle your bulk printing jobs. I would recommend a Thunderbird add-on like PrintingTools to improve the printing layout of emails. Three key features (among many) of the add-on are –
1. It can hide the images in the message.
2. It can print just the selected part of a message.
3. It can use a font family and a font size in printing messages, and also apply a style (color and size) to quoted text.
An Evernote Tip
You can send multiple emails as notes to Evernote. Evernote gives you a personal email address. Go to the Account Info area of Evernote for Windows and Mac, Settings on Evernote Web and the Sync tab on Evernote for iPhone and iPad to see your listed email address.
1. Send the email to a specific notebook by prefixing a @ before the name of the notebook in the subject line. You can also include a tag in the subject line following the notebook (see screenshot).
2. Evernote allows you to select notes which are discontiguous by pressing CTRL and left-clicking to select them. Or contiguously by using the SHIFT key instead.
3. After selecting the multiple notes, you can click on the button or right-click and merge them into one combined note.
4. You can print the note from the right-click menu, hit CTRL+P, or go for Page Setup before printing them from the File menu.
Have You Heard About Google Cloud Print?
Google Cloud Print allows you anywhere and everywhere access to your printers by connecting them to the cloud via Google servers. The best part of it is that any type of application, on any web-connected device, can use Google Cloud Print. That includes your mobile devices. Google recommends a cloud-ready printer, but you can attach any old printer to your computer and connect to the cloud with Google Chrome (Sign in to Google Cloud Print).
When it comes to printing emails with the help of Google Cloud Print, Steve takes you through the steps and shows you – How To Print From Your Phone With Gmail For Mobile & Google Cloud Print.
Well, that’s it. Though this article is all about printing emails, I fervently hope you will do it less and less. But even if you do, some of the above methods should help you save some trees from the chopping blocks and keep your printing costs as low as possible. Know any steps that are unique to printing emails more efficiently? We would love to hear them.
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