Making Nicer Printouts From the Web

3 Comments {beta}: Save money and the environment printing only what you like. - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008092414)Even the most devoted of web workers sometimes resorts to printing things out on bits of dead trees, in my experience. Maybe it’s the setup information for a new account or the instructions for some software or even your favorite LOLcat – sooner or later you’ll probably want to print a web page.

Unfortunately, this can be an annoying process, thanks to the bad match between “attractive and ad-laden HTML layout” and “useful printed record.” That’s where PrintWhatYouLike comes in. This simple (and free) service has one purpose: to allow you to customize the contents of a web page before you print it.

Using PrintWhatYouLike is easy. Visit their home page (or use their bookmarklet) and put in the URL that you want to print. The page will open within a PrintWhatYouLike frame. Then use their selection tools to start trimming. You can easily get rid of backgrounds and images, but you can also select any other HTML element on the page and make it go away. When you’re satisfied, just click Print and you get your nice clean paper record.

I’d like to see them add “copy” as well as “print”, for times when I want a clean digital record. But even as is, the service is useful enough to warrant giving it a bit of bookmarklet space in my browser.


Jonathan Koomjian

Great suggestion! We are in the process of adding a ‘save as pdf’ option to the site. It would be no trouble at all to add a ‘copy’ feature which allows you to save your edited page without the PrintWhatYouLike toolbar. Expect to see it shortly.

Thanks for the excellent post! I love reading wwd and it is quite an honor to have the application I’m working on featured here!

Dennis Fisher

PDF printing is also the one that I use often (it’s usable on any of the major three platforms, out of the box on Mac and desktop-oriented Linuxes like Ubuntu, available with CutePDF on Windows). But that’s just for a straight archival copy as-is. For removing page elements and stuff, I recommend looking at the Scrapbook Firefox extension. You can remove page elements by highlighting them or clicking on them and you can highlight parts of the page you want to draw attention to. You can then either keep it saved within Scrapbook, you can save that out as a static HTML page, or PDF print the results.

Mike Dunham

If you “print” to a PDF, it’s the same thing as your “copy” wishlist item.

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