Since moving offices more than four months ago, I haven’t yet plugged in my computer’s printer. I keep thinking I’m going to have a reason to use it, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I’ve told myself that if I don’t plug it in by September — the six month mark — I’m going to give the printer to charity.
Living without a printer has become significantly easier in the past couple years. I save important files as PDFs, I attach digital signatures instead of physically signing papers, and I clip articles I want to read to Evernote or InstaPaper instead of printing a copy. And, apparently, I’m not alone in my quest to kick the printing habit.
The New York Times recently addressed this topic and alternatives to printing in the article “Dump Your Printer to Escape the Madness.” Columnist Sam Grobart gives five tips for how to let go of your dependence on a printer, this being his third:
One of the main reasons many people own a printer is because we still live in a world where a scribble of ink on a piece of paper, also known as a signature, is required for many documents. It remains an infuriating process: You have to print the document out to sign it, then mail it or scan it and either fax or e-mail it back to the sender.
An online service, Hello Fax (hellofax.com), keeps a digital image of your signature on file, which you can then position and resize onto any document you upload to the service. Once the document is “signed,” you can e-mail it or send it to a fax machine from your PC. The service can also, for a fee, provide you with a fax number. Incoming faxes can then be viewed — and signed — onscreen.
Even if I plug in my printer before September, I still might get rid of it. I’m fantasizing about what I’ll do with the extra storage space in my office, the money I’ll save, and the frustrations I won’t have when it doesn’t get all buggy or run out of ink or have a paper jam. True simplicity may be found in a printerless office.