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How to Stop a Printer from Printing a Yellow Tracking Dots

Printing a Yellow Tracking Dot

Did you know that each time you print a document; it automatically prints a secret code that could be used to identify the printer? Sounds weird? Unfortunately, this is right. Most color laser printers and copiers are designed to print invisible tracking codes on every single page you print. Codes can be used to identify the serial number of the printer and, in some cases, the date and time of the document printed or copied. And these dots are barely visible to the naked eye.

In this guide, we will explain a few ways through which you can see the printing yellow tracking dots that your printer produces. But we know you are more interested in knowing how to stop a printer from printing yellow tracking dots.

What Gets Tracked?

It is important to note that, when decoded, these tiny yellow dots on the sides or corners of a printed page can reveal the owner of the printer, the make, model, and serial number of the printer, and, in some cases, the current date and time.

The primary reason for implementing the yellow secret dots is to help the Secret Service track forgery bills and counterfeit cases. 

How to Make Yellow Dots Visible?

Every time you print a document, it automatically puts an invisible secret code of light yellow dots on it. And it is almost impossible to see those dots with the naked eye due to their low contrast against white paper. Fortunately, you can magnify any page that you want to inspect.

Read this to learn how to identify and decode the light yellow dots on any printed document.

Three different tools are needed to decode the printing yellow tracking dots on any page:    

  • With a Microscope: It should be possible to see dots on a printed document if you use a microscope or magnifying glass with a magnification of 10x or higher.
  • With a Blue Light: You can also use a bright blue LED flashlight in a dark room to turn yellow dots into dark blue or black.
  • With a Scanner: A good scanner and a graphics program that can zoom and invert the colors can also help you find the pattern.

With the above technology and tools, one can easily decode the pattern, which contains distinct identifying information about the print job. 

Now that you have seen the yellow dots, What next?

Either way, you can send these files to EFF. Or follow these tricks to stop your printer from tracking you. 

Ways to Stop Your printer from Tracking You

Could you imagine that a person was sentenced to five years in prison because of a printer? Unfortunately, this is the truth. In 2017, an NSA contractor leaked sensitive information about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And this was unintentionally revealed by one journalist when he added a scanned copy of the printed materials.

This helped the FBI use the hidden watermarks on the top and sides of the printed pages to decode incriminating metadata, including the printer’s serial number, location, and time of the print. The FBI was subsequently able to reduce the number of suspects to one using this information.

Therefore, the main concern these days is how one can enhance the privacy of their documents. But don’t worry; A1 Printer Repair experts suggest some useful ways to prevent your printer from using tracking dots.

Here are some tricks to prevent exposing your identity:

Trick 1: Try to use either black-only printers or inkjet printers, as they lack the yellow toner necessary to print the dots.

Trick 2: Try to use a printer that doesn’t produce these types of dots. Although this seems impractical as there is no real way to tell which printers do not produce yellow dots.

Trick 3: For maintaining the confidentiality of any document, stick to the old-fashioned pen and paper approach if possible.

Trick 4: If you are concerned about the documents you are printing, ensure you have deleted the printer’s activity logs after every session.

(Caution: There may not be a valid way to prevent your printer from tracking you.)

List of Color Laser Printer Models that Print Yellow Tracking Dots

Nearly all modern color laser printers print some kind of tracking pattern of tiny yellow dots on each page you print, including HP, Epson, Lexmark, Brother, Samsung, etc. Here is a list of a few color printer models that display tracking dots as per the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) report: 

Printer ManufacturerModel
Hewlett-PackardColor LaserJet 1550L
Color LaserJet 2250LN
Color LaserJet 3500
Color LaserJet 3600DN
Color LaserJet 4500DN
Color LaserJet 4600HDN
Color LaserJet 5M
Color LaserJet 5100CN
Color LaserJet 8500
Color LaserJet 8500DN
Color LaserJet 8550GN
Color LaserJet 9500
Color LaserJet 9500MFP
CanonCLC 1000
CLC 2400
CLC 4000
CLC 5000+
CLC-iR 3200-C1
Color imageRUNNER C2570
Imageclass MF8170C
LBP 2410
EpsonAcuLaser C900
AcuLaser C1500
AcuLaser C1900
AcuLaser C3000
AcuLaser C4000
Konica MinoltaBizhub C252
Bizhub C350
Colorforce 8050
Ikon CPP500E
Magicolor 2 Desklaser
Magicolor 2200 DL
Magicolor 2300 W
Magicolor 2450
Magicolor 3100
Magicolor 5450
Magicolor 7300
Mita KM-C2230
RicohAficio 1224C
Aficio 1232C
Aficio CL 2000
Aficio CL 3000
Aficio CL 6010
Aficio CL 7000
XeroxDocuColor 12
DocuColor 1521
DocuColor 2045
DocuColor 3535
Phaser 750 (Z750V)
Phaser 850DP
Phaser 6200DP
Phaser 7300DN
Phaser 8200DP
Phaser 8560MFP/D
WorkCentre M24
ToshibaeStudio 3511

Do Printers Still Print Yellow Dots?

Want help? With this write-up, our goal is to make our users aware of the existence of such codes. And these yellow dots are too small for the average person to see. Importantly, monochrome laser or inkjet printers lack the yellow toner necessary to print the dots. So, you can eliminate the tracking dots by switching to a color inkjet printer or any black-only printer if you are overly concerned. Reportedly, the yellow dot technology applies only to color laser printers and copiers. Therefore, with this ideology, you can enhance your privacy.

And if you need an expert’s help to deal with this situation or need suggestions, do not hesitate to contact our A1 Printer Support team in the USA.  

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