Understanding the “Toner Low” Message in Your Printer


Quick Answer: 

In simple terms, the Toner Low message on your printer indicates that the  toner within the cartridge is running low

This message is a heads-up that it's time to think about getting a new toner cartridge.

Why Do Toner Levels Drop in Printers?

Toner cartridges have a limited amount of toner powder. Each time you print, a small amount of this powder is used to create the print on the paper. 

Over time, as you print more and more, the level of toner decreases. When it reaches a certain low level, your printer detects this and may alert you with a Toner Low message.

Printing Capability Post Alert

Might you be wondering if you can continue printing after receiving a Toner Low message? 

Yes, usually you can still print for a while after you get this message.

The Toner Low alert is just a warning, it doesn't mean the toner has run out completely. 

You likely still have some capacity left for printing, but the quality and consistency of your prints may start to decline as the toner level continues to drop.

Recommended Actions

When faced with a Toner Low message, there are several steps you can take to manage the situation effectively. 

Here are some recommended actions:

➜ Check Toner Levels

The first thing to do is to see how much toner you actually have left. Many modern printers have a feature that lets you  check the toner level right on the printer's display screen or through a software application on your computer. 

This will give you a better idea of how urgent the replacement is.

Note: Checking toner levels can vary depending on the type of computer and operating system you're using, as well as the brand of your printer.

For more detailed information, read our guide:  How To Check Printer Ink and Toner Levels (By Brand and By Platform)

➜ Shake the Cartridge

If you're not ready to replace the toner cartridge immediately, a temporary solution is to gently shake it. Carefully remove the cartridge from the printer and gently rock it back and forth. 

This helps to evenly distribute the toner powder inside, potentially squeezing out a bit more usage before it runs out completely.

➜ Plan for Replacement

Even if shaking the cartridge helps, it's a temporary fix. Start looking for a new toner cartridge as soon as you can.

It's better to have a replacement ready rather than waiting until the toner completely runs out, which could disrupt your printing needs.

➜ Purchase a New Toner Cartridge

When you're ready to buy, make sure you choose the correct cartridge for your printer model. 

For the best results and to avoid any potential issues, it's highly recommended to  use genuine cartridges made by the printer's manufacturer.

Note: Many users find shaking the cartridge helpful and can continue printing for weeks, even months after receiving low toner messages. Low-volume printers find this method especially handy. However, printers that print a lot may require a spare toner cartridge to avoid interruptions, as they may stop working until you replace them.

It's important to note that while some laser printers only show a "low toner" warning, others may stop printing entirely until the cartridge is replaced. So, it's wise to have a spare cartridge to prevent workflow disruptions.


The Toner Low message is a helpful reminder that it's time to think about replacing your printer's toner. 

While it doesn't mean you have to replace it immediately, it's wise to prepare so you're not caught off guard when the toner finally runs out. 

Happy printing!

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