Label makers are useful office, household, and outdoor gadgets. Whether you’re filing documents, organizing your garage, or safeguarding your food in a communal fridge, there’s a label maker out there for everyone.
One thing you should aim for when selecting a label maker is to buy a brand and model for which you can easily replace the tape cartridges in a pinch. Not everyone likes to wait for online orders to come through before getting back to work.
Here’s a look at some of the best label makers you can get right now.
Best All-Round Label Maker: DYMO LabelManager 280
There are two companies who dominate the label maker space, and DYMO is one of them. The LabelManager 280 is a mid-range product that offers good functionality at a price point that won’t make you wince.
This portable and rechargeable label maker features a full QWERTY keyboard and backlit LCD display. Choose from six font sizes and seven text styles, with more than 200 symbols and clip art images to choose from. If you want more font styles or to add your own logos you can connect the unit to a Mac or PC and print directly from there.
The LabelManager 280 was designed for use with DYMO’s D1 labels, and you can find many “D1 compatible” replacement tape cartridges for less than what DYMO is asking. You can use both the standard indoor tape, and the tougher outdoor-ready vinyl tape.
Best Cheap Label Maker: Brother P-Touch PTM95
Brother is the other company that has the label maker market sewn up, and the P-Touch PTM95 is one of their best budget options. It’s a no-frills label maker with a QWERTY keyboard and basic 12-character LCD display.
There are nine type styles to choose from, with 200 symbols, and ten different framing styles for your labels. It’s fine for labelling home offices, sewing kits, or cables around the back of your TV. There are eight different decorative patterns also included, which makes it the perfect companion for “crafty” people.
Best Smartphone Label Maker: Brother P-Touch Cube
Who needs a full-sized label maker when you have a smartphone? The Brother P-Touch Cube is a wireless label maker that uses your iPhone or Android smartphone and Brother’s Design & Print app. Simply connect your device over Bluetooth, launch the app, and print away.
The Cube comes with an AC power adapter so you can leave it plugged in all the time, like an office printer. It also accepts six AAA batteries for truly wireless label printing. It uses Brother’s TZe laminated tape (and isn’t compatible with regular TZ tape) which is temperature, water, and fade resistant. This makes labels that a great for both indoor and outdoor use.
The label maker includes over 450 symbols and over 60 frames for your labels. Since it’s reliant on the companion smartphone app, it’s possible that Brother could increase the number of templates, fonts, and frames available by updating the software.
Heavy Duty Label Machine: DYMO Rhino 4200
The DYMO Rhino 4200 is a heavy duty label maker for use on work sites. It contains over 150 symbols for use in various trades, including electrical, audiovisual, security, and facilities management. Enter your label via the full QWERTY keyboard, or use the favorites function to recall up to 25 frequently-used designs.
There are also hot-keys for specific industrial labels, including wire and cable wraps, and both code 39 and code 128 bar codes. It uses a thermal transfer printing process, so no ink cartridges are required. You’ll also need to use Rhino Industrial Labels with this label maker, available in widths of 1/4″ to 1″.
The Rhino 4200 uses six AAA batteries, so you can keep spares nearby. The label maker itself is built with durability in mind, with integrated rubber bumpers to prevent damage from drops.
No Batteries Label Maker: DYMO Xpress Pro
Looking like something that fell out of the 1950s, the DYMO Xpress Pro is a rotary label maker that never needs charging or battery replacement. The completely manual design requires you to rotate the character selector for each letter typed. It’s slow, but it always works.
Label options are a little limited since the Xpress Pro uses 3/8″ wide embossing label tape, which is only suitable for indoor and household use. If you don’t have a lot of labels to print and you’d rather not worry about chargers and batteries, the Xpress Pro might be a good idea. For the rest of us, it’s a bit of a relic.
High-End Label Maker: Brother P-Touch D600VP
If only the best will do, try the Brother P-Touch D600VP. It features a full QWERTY keyboard with a color display. The display lets you use the WYSIWYG designer to preview your labels exactly as they will be printed. Those labels can make use of 14 fonts, 11 font styles, 99 framing options, and over 600 symbols.
A built in memory function lets you store 99 of your commonly-used design for fast recall. You can connect the D600VP to your Mac or Windows computer too. This lets you use Brother’s huge library of templates, print fonts you already have on your computer, or add personal touches like company logos.
The label maker uses Brother’s laminated TZe tapes (and is not compatible with TZ tapes). This makes it suitable for producing labels you can use outdoors. You even get a full carrying case, complete with space for extra tapes. Power the D600VP with the included AC adapter or six AA batteries.
Best Label Printer: Brother QL-800
Printed labels aren’t quite the same as what you get from a dedicated label maker. The Brother QL-800 produces high quality printed paper labels that require no ink or toner. These are perfect for many household and office labelling tasks.
The QL-800 supports two colors across the whole label using Brother’s own DK-2251 refills. It can print 93 standard address labels per minute at 300dpi, so it’s faster than most other label makers. The downside is that you have to use a Mac or Windows computer to print your labels.
But the upside is that you have absolute control over what is printed on those labels. Brother even supports Word, Excel, and Outlook natively so that you can print directly from Office apps with no fuss.
Save Money on Other Office Gadgets
Whatever you’re labelling, you should find the right label maker for the job here. You can often save money by using off-brand replacement label tape, but the original manufacturers will always claim that their tapes are the best. Amazon is full of cheaper options, so we’ll let you be the judge.
Label makers can help you organize your computer space, but they’re not alone. Check out these other gadgets that can help you keep your desk tidy.