Is home printing becoming obsolete?


image above compliments of

Recently two different people asked me about printing apps for the iPhone/iPod touch. Another person asked me about hooking up a multi-function printer to their Mac OS X Server. I get printing questions all the time. I have some really nice printers here at home. The printer that gets used the most is the Xerox Phaser. I have assorted Epson printers and a Dymo Twin Label Printer that I love for my one-off label needs. With that said, my printing volume has gone way way way down. I easily go for weeks without printing anything. While I'm not quite ready to head to eBay with my gear, I'm wondering is printing becoming obsolete?


What About Printing Photos?

I was never really that into printing photos at home to begin with. Sure I have an Epson Color Stylus Photo R1800 that does a fantastic job. When the R1900 came out I had no reason to upgrade. I'm always amazed by the quality I get when I do a photo print. However, I can probably count on one hand the number of photos I printed in 2009. I'm certainly taking tons of photos, but the reality is that I do most of my photo sharing online. If someone really needs/wants a print of a photo I've taken then I'll usually upload it to one of my favorite labs like, or and have the print mailed directly to them. I just can't print my own prints cheaper than Costco's prices! So the only time I print a photo is I need it right then and there and can't wait or drive to pick it up. As you might imagine those times are far and few between.

What Do I Need To Print?

I started thinking about the things that I either print now or used to print. Certainly I used to print out my boarding pass before heading out to the airport, but now Delta/NWA provide electronic boarding passes. I still print my scripts/notes for presentations/lectures so that I have them next to me as I'm giving the presentation. Even then that's not an every day printing need.


When I ship stuff I use my Dymo Twin label printer all the time. However, I can go a week or two without shipping or mailing anything. So the only regular users of the printers here are my kids. They print reports for school and even that's not an every day need. I also imagine that sooner rather than later they will shift more and more to being able to upload their reports directly to their teachers. 

Speaking of obsolete check out this post on 12 things that became obsolete in the last decade. It's amusing.

With the cost of ink, toner and paper these days I don't miss printing at all. What about you?…


Do you still print?

28 Replies to “Is home printing becoming obsolete?”

  1. Even though I rarely use a printer at home it is still lovely to have just in case. It will mostly be for emergency use or the occasional ticket printing, but also it is kind of nostalgic, a home office is not the same without a printer!

  2. I’m still quite glad I have a good photo printer. While it might be more expensive than the local Costco, it’s great to be able to print photos on high quality papers. (Nothing beats a black and white photograph on a silver rag paper.)

    It may be corny, but there’s still a nice feeling to have a photograph that you’ve created at every step, including taking the time and care to print it yourself.

  3. Man, I want to upgrade my obsolete Epson R380 to an R1900 sooo bad, but being a hobbyist I’m finding it very difficult to justify the expense. I don’t print many of my images, but occasionally I’ll crank one out for family or a friend.

    But I agree with Andy’s view about creating a printed image at every step….that is so cool, especially as a left-brained non-artist. Maybe I’ll see if Epson is offering any great deals at Photoshop World in Orlando….

  4. I think it’s worth having a printer for the times you DO need it. My wife and I just went months without a printer, and there were times we really missed it. But I agree that it’s becoming less and less necessary for most people. I wonder if we’ll start seeing more shared printers in places like apartment buildings.

  5. I only print coupons, documents, & album art from online music purchases. All of my photo printing is done via online services or locally at Costco.

  6. I print relatively little textual material any longer and could dispense with more of that if faxing multi-layout reports from Filemaker weren’t such a nuisance; every switch between layouts generates a new document to be faxed or converted to a PDF and secured – so I print and fax the obsolete way. I also do a good deal of digital photography and print photos with regularity. I like the control I have over the output and I enjoy producing large prints on quality paper. I’m old school that way – used to do my own darkroom work; being able to produce images I can touch and adjust is important to my enjoyment of the hobby. If I could justify the expense I’d buy a roll-paper printer of 24″ width and produce poster-size output.

  7. I just bought an Epson R1900 to replace my aging HP 7350. I do use Mpix too for 16X 24 and Gallery wraps. I wanted the ability to print up to 13 X 19 borderless and CD’s at home. Now if I could just come up with a default template/action in CS4 to print out my D300 images at 13 X 19 I would be one happy camper! 🙂

  8. I have an Epson 1400 that I really dig. I use it for some proofing or for fun stuff like my daughter or 13×19 art prints. Rock on Terry. Much love from Chicago.

  9. I actually print quite a lot of photographs as part of the business side of my photography. I print a lot fewer of my own images for my own use. I definitely like the physical interaction with a fine art print.
    I wonder how long it will be before we stop seeing this “print a copy for your own records” for such things as receipts, financial statements, etc. I have been saving those as PDFs for a long time now.

  10. I WANT a wonderful Epson fine art printer, but every time I try to talk myself into buying one I find it impossible to justify. Those printers really don’t like sitting idle… and, like you, I just don’t print that much. The online services are so reasonable and do such good, fast work, I leave the printing to them.

    We still do a lot of ‘utility’ printing on a laser printing. But I think all of my fine art work will be handled off-site. It’s the only thing that makes financial sense to me.

  11. I just finished my first gallery wrap on my Epson 7600. Can’t wait to do more.
    It’s more cost effective than sending out to a lab which means more profit – yeah!

  12. Hi Terry,
    My output is either 12″x 18″ 12pt color glossies ($1ea) or 42″ x say, 65″ for $8/ft for the canvas. I walk across the street, cross the RR tracks, to get both done at CopyMax. I have not had the need to use my new printer that I bought 6 months ago. Life is good for color printing.

  13. I have found myself ordering prints online. Although my printer offers professional quality and at home convenience, Whenever I print things just don’t turn out as well as sending them in. Every time I print, I am either disappointed, or run out of ink relatively fast. I’m not sure if printing at home is becoming obsolete, for me it never reached a place where it can be considered “becoming Obsolete.”

  14. It is recommended to save tax documents for 7 years, including receipts. Ever look at a thermo printed receipt a year later? Totally useless and faded. So either a scanner or all in one is necessary to preserve documentation. I’d love an Epson printer for larger photo images, but can’t justify the cost.

  15. Boarding passes or event tickets are probably the most frequently printed items theses days. I use to design and print flyers or programs for church and PTA at my daughters’ school but that has declined. My color laser has needed two toner colors replaced for about 9mos and I haven’t had a pressing need to spend the $175.

    At work I went all year in 2009 with out printing a single page which is an accomplishment for an IT professional in banking/financial services.

  16. I rarely print but actually wish to print more, talking only photographs here. When I have an image I’m proud of (sadly rare) I enjoy handling it on paper and being able to put it on the wall.

        1. I never said they wouldn’t. However, not everyone is a print designer and certainly not all print designers work from home which is the focus of the post. “home printing”.

          1. I think a majority of people here represent themselves as freelancers; thus, the work from home perspective. So, from a freelance standpoint, where is assurance in going straight from the screen to an outsource printer?

          2. Bernie X, clearly you need a printer. Continue to use one. However, to say that “the majority of the people here”, what are you basing that on? There are photographers here that probably need printers, there are probably designers here that need printers too, but there are also a large number (if not the majority of readers here) that aren’t designers and aren’t photographers. So I never said that NOBODY needs a home printer. I said that home printing for many is becoming less and less necessary due to the way things can be done electronically. That’s it.

            Happy printing!

          3. Are we in the same blog? 90% of the people here are freelancers … skim the context. The ability to provide proofs and even final prints on demand, from home (without having to meander to a Costo’s, CVS etc and gamble on how a print will come out) is a tangible competitive advantage.

  17. I send everything to Mpix. Well not everything, I have a Epson Dash and I print 4×6 photos for my personel family album. I find the printer works great, but you just can’t beat the price and quality on online printing.

Comments are closed.