Monday, December 12, 2011

PrintWhatYouLike: Automatically Clean-Up Page Before Printing or Save as PDF

PrintWhatYouLike is a free online webpage editor that enables the user to decide how pages should look when printed. After all it’s your ink, your paper and your money. Why waste precious ink on images, social sharing buttons, ads, and links on the sidebar? In any case, a webpage is neither formatted nor optimized for printing and shouldn’t be attempted to do such (unless you are printing on somebody else’s cost).

Some sites offer a print version of the page, but even those might contain non-essential elements. Tools like PrintWhatYouLike offers you full control on what you print. Of course, PrintWhatYouLike isn’t the first program that allows that. There is Printee for Internet Explorer, HackTheWeb for Firefox, and Print Friendly for Chrome. Then there are desktop programs such as CleverPrint and GreenPrint. I’m sure there are more and even more will come in future. But what makes PrintWhatYouLike special is that it’s cross-browser and cross platform compatibility. And aside from printing, it allows you to save your modified page as PDF and HTML. There is more. You can save your edits and automatically apply it to other pages of the same website.


To use PrintWhatYouLike, go to the website, enter the URL of the page you want to clean-up and click on the Start button, but the easier way is to drag the bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks bar. That way you can access it whenever you need. After you click on the Start button or on the bookmarked link, you will be taken to an editable version of the webpage. A panel on the left gives you access to various tools.

Click on sections on the page you want to remove and a toolbar will appear. From the toolbar click on the ‘Remove’ button to completely hide that section. Do the same on other sections on the page. Alternatively, you can click on the section you wish to print or save and on the toolbar click on ‘isolate’. This will keep only the selected section and nuke everything else. This provides for an easier and faster page clean-up.


Now if you look at the tools available in the side panel, you will find that there are even faster options. You can quickly hide background, images and margins (empty white spaces). The AutoFormat button works exceptionally well - with just a single click you can get rid of everything but the article on the page.

Once you have cleaned up the page, you can save it as PDF. Suppose, you don’t have a printer connected to the machine. You can save it as PDF take the saved PDF to another computer which has access to a printer and print the page.


But what seals the deal is the ability to save the edits you made as a ‘change set’ and then automatically apply the saved ‘change set’ when you click on the PrintWhatYouLike button in your bookmark bar. This works on all pages across the website, provided the pages are consistent in their markup usage. This requires a free PrintWhatYouLike account to save your site-specific changes.

Need I say more? Head to PrintWhatYouLike to get your bookmarklet.

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