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Toner Tuna

OK, so I’m being facetious. The real name of Working Software’s new extension is Toner Tuner, and there is nothing fishy about it. In fact, it’s one of the easiest-to-understand utilities I’ve seen in a long time. Toner Tuner puts a slider bar in your Print dialog box that lets you set the darkness of your printouts, so you don’t have to waste toner printing drafts. How’s that for simple?

Toner Tuner provides two controls (along with an About button) in your standard Print dialog box. The first control, the slider bar, goes from 0% to 100% in slightly odd increments. The second control is a checkbox that determines if that particular print job will use Toner Tuner or not. The checkbox defaults off each time you print, so you have to manually tell Toner Tuner you want to print a draft each time, although if you click the Print button with the option key held down, Toner Tuner turns the checkbox on for you. Toner Tuner also automatically checks the box for you if you change the slider setting. Toner Tuner remembers the darkness setting of the slider bar between prints.

Toner Tuner allows me to reduce the amount of needless waste from my printer when I print drafts that don’t have to look good. You wouldn’t use Toner Tuner when doing those last layout drafts where every hairline counts; you would use it when printing the 30 page draft of your scintillating memo collection. Toner Tuner’s settings correspond to the amount of toner used, so if you print all your drafts at 50%, you’ll save a good deal of toner over the life of your cartridge.

Toner Tuner seems to be utterly moron-proof. I can’t imagine how anyone who could figure out how to buy Toner Tuner could screw up using it. [Adam often installs new software on "our" Mac, and sometimes it throws me for a loop; other times I can figure it out fairly quickly. Toner Tuner didn’t slow me down for a second. -Tonya] Even the 16-page manual (only 13 pages are used) can only find enough material to talk about using Toner Tuner for three pages. The rest of the pages cover installation, table of contents, glossary, index, "please don’t pirate" statement, and other filler.

The only thing I don’t like about Toner Tuner is that its slider bar isn’t proportional. 25% sits smack dab in the middle because percentages below 10% have another decimal place. Whee, I can print at 3.8% darkness! The reason for this is that high-resolution printers can print reasonable graphics at those low darkness settings. Text at 10% looks like a dot matrix printout that used an old ribbon and then sat in the sun for several weeks – barely readable. 25% and 33% darkness are both ugly for text, but readable in good light. 50% is still pretty ugly, and 67% still looks like dot matrix printing, but I can handle 67% perfectly well, and 75% and 90% are lovely, so to speak. Graphics are probably better at lower percentages if you’re testing for position since you don’t have to read them.

Working Software can give you ResEdit instructions on how to make a Toner Tuner setting the rule rather than the exception. I asked about this initially because there are plenty of sites that print almost nothing for real, and there’s no reason to waste toner unnecessarily. Tech support therapists often do a lot of test printouts, and university public computer rooms often have a specific draft printer. In both of those cases, the organization could save a fair amount of money by forcing most everything to print at even 50% darkness. Figure out how much you spend on new toner cartridges or refills, halve that number, and then decide if Toner Tuner can save you money after taking its cost into consideration.

Toner Tuner theoretically works with all printers, although the ReadMe said that Working Software was working (well, I would hope so!) on making it compatible with the HP LaserJet 4M. I imagine there are other printers that Toner Tuner doesn’t work with, but Working Software says that if Toner Tuner doesn’t work as advertised in the manual, they will either fix the problem or return your money. Can’t beat that, and besides Working Software does tech support online, something we at TidBITS approve of highly. On CompuServe they are in MACBVEN, and on America Online use the keyword "Working" to find their support forum. Toner Tuner retails for $49.95 (it’s also available via mail order); Working Software also has six- and twelve-copy packages available at reduced prices for small offices, and big sites can spring for the 100-copy pack for $1,000. If you go through toner cartridges like chocolate chip cookies, you need Toner Tuner.

Working Watermarker — My conversation with Working Software also revealed that they have a somewhat similar product in the works. Called Working Watermarker, the $49.95 extension will appear in your Print dialog just like Toner Tuner, but will let you print a EPS or PICT graphic over each page in the print job, even in applications that don’t support graphics. The obvious use is printing "TOP SECRET" in light gray letters across the text of every page you print, especially your love letters, but you could also use it to print a fancy letterhead in a word processor that doesn’t support fancy graphics, or perhaps a company logo on invoices from an accounting program that doesn’t let you customize your forms. The first page can have different graphics at different intensities than other pages, which is ideal for the uses I just mentioned. Working Watermarker should be available by June, so contact Working Software in a bit for more information.

Working Software
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— Information from:
Working Software propaganda
Toner Tuner manual

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