Print What You Like

PrintWhatYouLike News

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29 Comments September 12th, 2008 by Jonathan

After being annoyed by how bad webpages look when printed for about 10 years now, I’ve finally decided to do something about it! is the result. The idea is that you should be able to manipulate pages to make them print as nice as an article printed in a journal.  No ads, no half the page taken up by empty space, and no info boxes sitting above the text you are trying to read. Just the stuff you wanted to print.

I coded this application to suit my own needs. So everything works perfectly, for me:) But since you are not like me, you are probably wondering why the heck doesn’t this thing support feature xyz. So if you have any ideas about how PrintWhatYouLike could be made better, please write them down in the comments section!  Here are some of the new features I’m working on:

  • The ability to save a set of changes.  So if I was a student majoring in city planning, and I print lots of articles from The Journal of Urban Design, I could go to an article on that site, apply all the changes needed to make the page print worthy, and then save that set of changes. The next time I need to print an article from that site, I can just apply my saved set of changes to the new article. Making any article on that site printer friendly is now just a matter of clicking the button to apply my saved changes. If later I also need to print articles from Urban Design International, I can just create a second template for that site.
  • The ability to resize page elements
  • If page includes both screen and print stylesheets, use the print stylesheet
  • An odometer type dial that tracks how much paper you have saved
  • Fix all the bugs!

If you have any other ideas, please let me know! Or if you have spotted any bugs, or used the site in an interesting way, or know of other ways to save paper, or have a friend in Nigeria who needs to transfer some money, please add it too the comments!


29 Comments Add your own

  1. OJ says:

    Hey nice work! I’m wondering if you could add a widget that I could embed to my blog with custom specifications as to what i will like the reader to print.

  2. Nice job. Jason one of the schipulites here at work ( showed this to us and I think we may just become big fans.

    Took a couple of minutes to make you a bookmarklet (read: make life easier for us) to use your web application.

    Drag this link into your browser and you can PrintWhatYouLike with one click.

    Thank you once again!

  3. Jonathan says:

    @OJ: Fantastic Idea! I’ve added it to my todo list. I’ll add a way for you to format your blog on pwyl and then save the changes. Then you could add an embeddable ‘print’ icon to your blog. When someone clicks it, the blog entry they are viewing will appear in PWYL, and your changes will be applied. The toolbar and other editing stuff will also be hidden.

    @Eloy: You are a genius!! I love your bookmarklet, and I feel like a total idiot for not thinking of it! I’ll add you bookmark to the site homepage- it certainly beats copying and pasting urls every time you want to use the site.

  4. Lionel says:

    Great idea and work !
    I love it. 🙂
    By the way, I see only one thing missing for me, as I don’t print much : a Copy button, this way I can send it directly to my Google Notebook, Evernote, whatever…
    I hope for it.
    Thank you again for your nice work.

  5. Fark says:

    Great utility.
    Easy to use, powerful and very useful.
    Thak you!

  6. Money Transferer says:

    I really need ze money transferred. I am in your debt.


  7. Dood says:

    It doesn’t work? Is the site down?

    All I ever get is:

    This Google App Engine application is temporarily over its serving quota. Please try again later.

  8. Nagabhushanam says:

    Nice job…….. I congratulate you – for developing such a useful webpage – I am going to give it a wide publicity among my friends circle…….

    Congratulations, once again………

  9. jcmoriaud says:

    Any relationship with the nice Aardvark plugin for Firefox?
    Nice functinality! Thanks.
    Do you need help to tranlate it in french? Just drop a mail.

  10. Spud says:

    I suspect that this will not work on sites that you need to log into before you can see the pages.

    I could really use this for some of the investing sites I go to, but I have to log in first and drill down to the particular page.

    Is it possible that this could be an app on my computer rather than a web based app?

  11. John says:

    I followed instructions and got the bookmarklet in the Links folder but it doesn’t work. When I have some page displayed and click on the PWYL line in LINKS, it replaces the page I had with the edit column and the original home page of PWYL with the blank ‘Enter a url to start’ box.

  12. Ziggyzmo says:

    Nice idea but same comment as Spud:
    Impossible to print pages where you need to log in…
    It would be great if you can fix it!

  13. titusdaman says:

    I sent you an e-mail just now about it but I also figured I would pass this opinion along to the other readers of this blog. I had recommended the ability to instead of printing, printing to print to like PDF to make a paperless paper document that is highly printable and able to be shared.

  14. Alecco says:


  15. paq237 says:

    Excellent utility. Worked quite well on the few sites I tried.

    Ability to remove justification / position formatting would be great. I noticed that a site that I grabbed material from was centered and I would have preferred it to be left justified instead.

    BTW: I like the simple means in which URL’s can be passed to the site. It makes setting up a bookmark / keyword in FireFox trivial. Now if I’m at a URL that I want to manipulate with “Print What You Like”, I can simply hit “Home” in the address bar, then type “pwyl” followed by a space… Perfect.

    Many Thanks!

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  19. Jonathan says:

    Thanks everyone!!

    @paq237: Thanks for the suggestion! I will work on adding a way to left justify the elements on the page. That is something which has annoyed me too. I’m glad you were able to hack the urls. There is also a bookmarklet on the homepage that works in a similar fashion. Go to any page, click the pwyl bookmarklet, and that page will open in pwyl.

    @titusdaman: I’m working on a save to pdf feature now. It should be available in the next week or so

    @Ziggyzmo, Spud: You are right, pwyl currently can not access any page which is password protected or not publicly available. I’m working on a Firefox plugin/bookmarklet which will allow you to include the pwyl editor in any page you are browsing without having to go to That will fix the problem.

    @jcmoriaud: There is no relationship with Aardvark, although I really like Aardvark and I tried to steal their best ideas:) My original idea was as a kind of firebug for the masses. So I also stole a lot of ideas from them too. But if you play around on PrintWhatYouLike you will see a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t exist in either plugin, such as how you click to select elements, the ability to merge pages together, the point and click toolbar, extra commands like remove images, etc.
    Thanks for the translation offer! Right now the site is not even set up for translation 🙁 I plan to internationalize the site soon and add different translations. When that happens I may take you up on the offer 🙂

  20. Mart de Haan says:

    Greetings from Holland. It’s perfect working so I made a link of PrintWhatYouLike on my Excel website.

  21. Joleta says:

    I couldn’t find a way to preview before I print. This is the best “green” function for saving paper there is. I need to see what I’m getting before I use paper.

  22. April says:

    I love this thing! I saw it on Tekzilla and couldn’t believe my eyes. I have used it twice today and saved approx 4 sheets of paper.

  23. Jonathan says:

    @Joleta You can preview what will print by using the print preview feature of your browser. When you print your document or use print preview, the printwhatyoulike toolbar will disappear, and only your edited document will appear.

    @April Awesome!

  24. Genny Engel says:

    This is just so incredibly brilliant! Very nicely done!

    Sorry to hear you are going over quota. You need mirrors. Or, you could post the code to Google Code or somewhere, then people can replace your API keys with their own API keys and run a separate copy. For example, at the library where I work, the bookmarklet would be a great tool to put on the Internet computers we have for the public to use. But if library PCs everywhere did that, that’d be like a million users a day right there — they’d constantly be maxing out your app quota. Instead, I would want to host a local copy of on our server, I guess set up a second copy of each Google / YUI app, and set the bookmarklet to use that copy.

  25. MikeD says:

    Hi, I love printwhatyoulike!

    There’s one page I want to print that I can’t seem to get to print right, both the original page, and after changes with printwhatyoulike, it ony prints as much of the web page as will fit on one sheet of paper.

    With printwhatyoulike, I tried taking out the left sidebar column, isolated the main article column, did “fit to width” on the main article, tried to take out any other text and boxes that didn’t relate to the main article.


  26. aboutblank says:

    Wow wow wow! What a very elegant, useful, fun utility this is! Thank you so very much. HP has a utility called Smart Web Print that does some similar functions, but it seems only to work in MSIE. Looking forward to using the bookmarklet and not pasting urls. If pagezipper works on the art auction sites that now make me crazy, I will anoint your feet. A grateful world salutes you as we print prettier pages, save paper, and use less expensive, toxic ink.

  27. Jonathan says:

    This site is not printing property because of an “overflow: auto” rule in the css. See for more info
    You can still print the page with pwyl by isolating just the article contents. The easiest way to do this is by selecting a paragraph in the article, clicking “expand” until the article is highlighted, and hitting “isolate”. Isolate will remove the element causing the problem, and your article should print properly.

  28. Henryg says:

    This is a great utility. I don’t use it everyday, but I would sure miss it now if it was not available.