Changing Print Darkness on Thermal Printers – Printer Instructions

Target Audience: Basic User, Advanced User, IT Manager
Article #: 13276


Depending on the label design and the printer itself, the user may find that changing the print darkness on their thermal printer produces better results. However, this is not as easy as doing it on a copy machine. Follow the steps in his article to adjust the darkness on nearly all thermal printers.


Before you begin, make sure that the correct drivers for the printer are installed. This will allow you to properly adjust the settings.


  1. Go to Printers and Scanners in Windows.
  2. Click on the printer that you want to adjust. This opens the Printer Management window.
  3. Click on Printing Preferences.

The Printing Preferences window will differ depending on the print driver’s manufacturer. However, most will follow the same basic layout as shown below.

A Zebra Printing Preferences window.
A SATO Printing Preferences window.

There will be two settings on the Options sub-menu that allow you to adjust the darkness levels:

Darkness – Lower the darkness value if the print is too dark, and raise it if it is too light. It should be noted that increasing the darkness too far can increase the wear on the print head and result in premature failure of the printer.

Speed – Adjusting the speed of the printer will also affect the darkness level. When the printer operates at a slower pace, it is spending more time on an individual pixel, making it darker. Slow the printer’s speed for darker print. Increase the printer’s speed to lighten it. However, this can also cause the pixel to “bleed” from too much heat and can make the image less clear.

  1. Make the desired adjustments
  2. Click OK to save your settings.

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