Printing Web content can be aggravating. Although some sites are printer friendly, many are not. How often have you printed a Web page only to find that the "one" page turns out to be two or three pages, including that infamous last page containing a couple of extraneous lines at the top and nothing else? Equally aggravating is getting printouts that cut off portions of the Web content or getting printouts that you have to piece together like a puzzle in order to read the content you wanted to print.

 

Printing from the Internet can be not only aggravating but also expensive. Paper, ink-jet cartridges, and toner cartridges aren't cheap.

 

By luck, I recently ran across a software package that can help save some aggravation and some cash when printing Web content. It can even help you feel good inside because you'll be saving a few trees. The software is HP Smart Web Printing—and it's free. This freeware lets you print only the item (text or graphics) you want on a Web page. If the item is small, you can combine items from various Web pages onto one page, then print that one page. You can also save items on a ClipBook for later printing or conversion to a .pdf file.

I was surprised at first to see that HP was offering such software. After all, a large part of its business is selling ink-jet and toner cartridges. But HP is starting to "go green," as they say. In fact, it has come up with "A Guide to Greener Printing." This guide contains six short tips on how to print in an environmentally friendly way.

 

You can download this freeware directly from the HP Smart Web Printing Web page or access it through a link in "A Guide to Greener Printing." Although neither site mentions it, it supposedly works with non-HP printers as well as HP printers. (See Lifehacker.com's "HP Smart Web Printing Saves Tons of Paper.") It works on Windows Vista and Windows XP running Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 6.0 or later or Mozilla Firefox version 2.0.0x.

 

Downloading and installing HP Smart Web Printing took me only a few minutes—registration isn't required. Learning to use the software was also quick and painless. For my first trial run, I decided to print just the Cover Story and Features sections from the contents page for Windows IT Pro's May issue. All I had to do was click the HP Smart Select icon that the software added to my IE 7.0 browser, click and drag across the sections I wanted to print, then select Print in a small pop-up box that appeared. My printer took over and printed only those two sections I selected. The one-page printout had good resolution and was devoid of all extraneous material (e.g., headers, banners, footers). More important, I avoided printing the second page that would've been produced had I used IE's Print option.

 

Next, I tried using the ClipBook. I once again selected the Cover Story and Features sections for Windows IT Pro's May issue, but this time I selected Clip rather than Print in the pop-up box. Sure enough, the selection appeared in the ClipBook. (If the ClipBook isn't showing, you need to click the arrow on the HP Smart Select icon and select Show ClipBook.) I selected the clip I just saved and clicked Edit. An Edit Clips screen appeared containing the selection. From this screen, you can resize and arrange clips (if you have more than one), print pages, or save pages as a PDF files. I saved my selection as a PDF file. I must admit, though, I was disappointed with the resolution of the PDF file.

 

Even though the PDF files aren't the greatest, I'm finding HP Smart Web Printing quite useful when I need to print Web content. I now can print only what I want and not waste a lot of paper, ink, or patience.

 

p.s., I'm running HP Smart Web Printing on Windows Vista running IE 7.0 and have an HP inkjet printer. I'd be interested in knowing how it works on other systems and with other types of printers.