How to get rid of low toner messages and save money

Ever need to finish a print job, and at the worst possible moment, your printer decides to go on strike, telling you that your toner has run out, even though you have a fairly new cartridge?

Or maybe, like me, you have seen “Magenta toner is low”, but you just wish to print in black and white? It is a bit silly to not be able to print in black and white due to a magenta toner low message. On some printers though, you cannot get past this message. It was not easy to search and find an answer to get my printer back to work. Once I did figure it out, I wanted to post the steps not just to help us remember, but to help others do printer toner resets.

After I initially posted this, I had to reset my printer again, and ran into some issues, so I have updated this post. This is AFTER calling Brother Customer Support, and having the customer support representative actually tell me it was impossible to reset my printer toner reset messages. I tried to explain to him he was misinformed as I had done it before – but I truly think resetting your toner so you can print is something they just don’t want you to know how to do!

We were using cartridges TN-310 for the MFC-9970CDW – but don’t be quick to pitch your half-used toner for a new one, regardless of the printer. Try a Google search to look for your printer model and find its reset directions.

Brother MFC-9970CDW toner reset instructions so it stops telling you your toner is low:

  1. Open the cover, and quickly press the number 1.
    I messed this up by not doing it quickly after opening and kept getting Fax.
    If you do close the door and try again.
    (UPDATE – you may need to turn your printer off. I unplugged for a minute, and was then able to open the cover and press 1 to get to the printer toner reset menu.
  2. Now the touch screen gives you choices to reset the toner. Choose the one you wish to reset:

    Black is K.TNR STD

    Magenta is M.TNR STD

    Cyan is C.TNR STD

    Yellow is Y.TNR STD

Is your printer toner actually running low?

Want to see printer toner usage stats? This is good info to have so you can plan to buy more toner. Again – why would this NOT be in our manuals???

To get a detailed report on toner usage, this was helpful to know. On the main touchpad screen, hit the menu button, and on the keypad, hit “* 2 8 6 4” and after a second, a new menu should pop up… press “7 7” and then a 1-page report should print with your detailed use and stats for coverage, page count, etc.  More details than the normal reports.

Press “9 9” to exit this menu and back to the main screen. There are many more options here. Oh Brother!, Why not make this available and easier!

Hope these tips help. Here’s to you saving on toner costs and getting that print job done!

Education, Save Money


  1. Worked perfectly! Thank you so much! What a blessing to be able to use my cartridges to the full, and/or not being able to print, due to just one color, etc. God bless you!

  2. I tried the reset, got the reset menu etc.
    did not solve the problem. I know I am not out of toner. I can tell by the amount of paper I have used.

  3. I did as instructed, got the reset screen but it is still telling my toner is low and It stays in that mode where I keep having to get up and manually press stop so that I can print.
    I know I am not out of toner by the amount of paper I have used.

  4. Debra – at first, it sounded like what i faced recently, and why i just updated the post today.

    Have you tried first turning your printer off? I unplugged for about 5 minutes. Then accessed the reset menu.

    Did you choose the correct toner code for the color that is in the message?

  5. Thanks! It worked for me. Also Google “toner trick brother” and then click on the images tab. It helps to get your more prints by tricking the printers sensor into thinking the cartridge is still full!

  6. Thanks for this info, it worked perfectly!

    To the other people who maybe tried this and it “didn’t work”: When I got to the reset menu there was MORE THAN ONE CHOICE PER COLOR. I assume if you reset for the incorrect cartridge (Standard TN3110 or HighYield TN3115) it will not clear the message.
    We have 5 of these printers and use them everyday. We spend many thousands of dollars per year on toner! We get mixed results with refilling our own and buying generic or remanuafactured. It pays to keep a full set of new OEM Genuine carts on hand, just in case.

  7. Hello – That worked perfectly for me too – my Toner was empty (totally empty – not possible to print), and after refill the toner empty messge continued. Your “buttom 1” procedure worked – it is really necessary to hit “1” rapidly after openting the cover. That is really what I needed. Thanks a lot !!

  8. This is a new machine and said the black was empty after just a few days. Your info worked absolutely. Thank you very much!!

  9. Thank you ~ MFC-9970CDW ~ Worked! It gave 2 choices per color–I picked the first one in line, first–did not work, showed error message still went and did second and Voila! Thank you for your share….now just to remember your site for the next ‘low toner’ message ~

  10. Thanks for posting. For some reason, yours didn’t work for me, but this did.

    Here are the steps to access the cartridge Reset Menu on the MFC-9970CDW.

    1. Open front cover.
    2. Close front cover.
    3. Upon “Please Wait” message, open front cover again.
    4. Upon “Close the Front Cover” message, press number 1 on keypad.
    5. Observe Reset Menu.
    6. Select cartridge to reset. (K=black, C=cyan, M=magenta, Y=yellow, STD=standard capacity, HC=high capacity, S.HC=super high capacity)
    7. Press Stop/Exit button.
    8. Close front cover.
    Show less

  11. Love these helpful hints. Worked well for me. Really sad this is not more straight forward from Brother! However my general print quality is not good. My inexpensive HP officejet pro 8600 has better print quality? I calibrated but that made no difference.

  12. thanks. took me 4 tries after unplug, plus a lot of extra pushes on button 1 but it worked. Not only that it still prints in color so the cartridges were not yet empty.

  13. wow, great trick for this brother mfc 9970cdw printer! glad google led me to this. thanks 1mm Judy Lipinski

  14. Thank you! Thank you! Its works for my printer and I like to idea of cost savings and green effort together!

  15. Thank You Judy Lipinski and Nocamo33, at first I tried “Judy method” dated Dec. 19, 2012, in this blog everyone said it worked for them but I did not have had luck to get it right to “1” working by opening front door many times, I was doing as quickly as possible. Then I read Nocamo33 method dated May 23, 2014 it worked well, and I cleared toner alert in first go. Then I just wanted to try Judy’s method again, this time it worked as well. I think Brother might have done upgrades on the firmware (which I did today) or may be my MCF9970-CDW was hung to toner alert. Anyway thank you all, for developing common wisdom, credit goes to GOOGLE too, world’s greatest university of knowledge for everyone, 1st grader to space scientist, poor to rich alike.

  16. Took a bit of playing with my Brother MFP to get to the reset menu but I got there. My printer said it needed all four cartridges within 150 pages which I thought was strange. So I followed Brother instructions and installed all four toners. Then the first color toner that went out, yellow, said that I needed to replace a brand new yellow toner cartridge. I got three of the colors reset and just need cyan to reset and then hopefully It will work properly again. Don’t want to replace the printer after the first set of refills through it. It’s my personal printer so it isn’t used much. Had a good deal on it so I bought the 9970 instead of a cheaper home model. It was half off with free shipping. Probably the last of the production before it was replaced a newer model.
    Thank you for posting the reset menu!

  17. Nocamo33’s procedure worked great! However I can’t get to the “*2468” hidden menu. Any more tips?

  18. If this method doesn’t work, try this:
    1.Open the printer cover, it is not necessary to remove the drum tray.
    2.Turn the printer OFF
    3.Turn the printer ON
    4.Wait for the “Cover Open” message on screen
    5.Press number 1
    6.The toner reset screen should display.
    7.Select which toner you want to reset.
    8.Close the printer cover.
    9.Wait for the printer to resume.

    Worked perfect!

  19. Hi

    I’ve got a Brother MFC-9970CDW. I have used the reset function in the past and works perfectly. But this time nothing shows up in the reset menu function. i.e. its just a blank screen and do not have options to choose. Have you experienced something like this in the past?

    Thanks heaps

  20. Sorry Jaison – I have not had this experience. I hope it works for you if you unplug and wait and try again.

  21. Sorry Steve, we learned these tips working with our office printer. We dont have that model. Best wishes!

  22. Have used the reset toner before, but thank you so much for the detailed report information. Great!

  23. Well as of August 2015, this neat trick worked just as you instructed it would. As I study Law and have this thing about printing things out so I can highlight things and put tabs and notes on it, which uses so much paper – I’m so so sorry trees, I plant three every year at the forest reserve’s fight climate change thing I feel so bad, 3rd yr in I think this year I need to plant 10 – but it sucks when I just want black and white and the colour is out. And happens at the most crucial time. Argh…. But your little trick has saved my sanity and a small bit of hair loss. And for that I can not thank you enough, which I recon my kids think so too lmao. Cheers and thanks. Your an angel to this Law student!

  24. In “Is Your Printer Toner Actually Running Low” article = I couldn’t make this work. When I got to the menu, I typed in *2864 , I was not allowed to type it: I had to chose a category (general settings, FAX etc). Did I miss a step = I really need this information.

    The instructions for resetting the low toner message worked great…but how do I know when it is honestly low? Will I get an additional message or will the print just fade. When I do put in a new cartridge, will it cancel the bypass settings I did? THANKS

  25. Pressing 1 immediately after opening cover after I got the normal Main menu by pushing Stop to get it for a moment. This worked with me.
    You have to
    Not found on Manuel, but reading and try & error with comments on this site.
    Smart Brother-fraud like Volkswagen?

  26. Thank you!! It worked great. With the exception of the black cartridge I am still using the original cartridges. Resetting has saved me lots of money.

  27. Very helpful. Had to call Brother the first time and they walked me through it. Wrote down steps but of course they did not work when it happened again. Researched and found these very simple steps. Worked like a charm. Thank you!!!

  28. Hi Steve, Instructions for toner resetting a Brother MFC L8850CDW printer

    1. Press the home button
    2. Press the fax button, this will illuminate the keypad. What you need to do is remember where the * (asterix) button is…it is immediately below the 7 button and to the left of the 0 button
    3. Press the home icon again
    4. Open the cover door
    5. Now press and hold your finger on where you thought the asterix button was, for 5 seconds
    6. The toner reset menu will now appear and can be actioned

  29. Fantastic Fix! I feel like an idiot—we have wasted so much money on color cartridges that we didn’t need. While resetting the toner I got the dreaded Replace Belt message—now how to prolong that?

  30. I found it–reset drum and belt unit: Hit Stop/Exit then 3 & 9 on keypad at the same time. It brings up a menu with both the belt and drum available to reset.

  31. I had the same blank screen problem as Jaison. Turning the printer on with the cover door open and pressing 1 when the ‘close cover door’ message appeared brought the menu back.

  32. Thank You for this awesome fix!!! I knew we were not out of toner and did the report after we reset following your instructions. Per the report all cartridges are still at 99% life remaining 🙂

  33. Another happy user – The fix worked for me – I have still ordered new cartridges however I will keep them in reserve until I am truly out of toner. I have a Brother 997CDW and the following worked for me:

    Reset Toner:

    1. Turn printer off & unplug for 5 Minutes
    2. Open the cover, and quickly press the number 1 (one) on the keypad
    a. If you get the Fax menu Try again
    3. Now the touch screen gives you choices to reset the toner. Choose the one or all you wish to reset.

    Reset other warnings:

    Drum / Belt / Fuser / PF Ki tMP / PF Kit1 / Laser units:

    1. Hit Stop/Exit then hit 3 & 9 on the keypad at the same time.
    2. It brings up a menu so choose the one or all you wish to reset.

  34. thank you! I had only purchased a whole set of the toners and there was no way I could be out!

  35. Perfect! Thanks! Didn’t read all the comments so the solution might be posted already, but took me a while until I realized the door needs to be all the way down before you hit the 1. Then it worked like a charm.

  36. I don’t know what to say. You are a life saver may God bless you. Worked for me with no problems. Thank you so very much

  37. Will, you’re a genius! I had the same blank screen issue and no toner options to choose for the reset.

    Your suggestion of turning the printer on with the cover door open and pressing 1 worked.

    Thank you for this thread!

  38. Thanks so much!! Procedure to get that detailed report on toner usage worked fabulous! This information should be in the manuals…

  39. so sorry i realize now you wrote this in 2015….ugh.

    it was in spam.

    i use fading to indicate i need to change the toner.

    wishing you well.


  40. I can’t seem to get any of this to work. Brother MFC L8850 — just wont recognize the new full yellow toner cartridge. I had 2 new ones and neither works.
    tried all the unplugging for 10 minutes (cartridges in and out) – tried all the #1 tips – plus the 3 & 9 simultaneously.
    Nothing I try will bring up the toner reset menu!
    Any other suggestions?

  41. You are a GENIUS! It worked perfectly! Mine was the high yield toner (Magenta) so I reset all 3 available M options. You’re so awesome 🙂

  42. I have an old, reliable MFC 9970 CDW.

    Earlier this year, I started getting toner low messages and bought and installed original Brother OEM replacement cartridges. After 3/4 of a year of very light use, I started getting messages again.

    Last month, before I discovered this thread, I ordered some non-OEM replacement cartridges. They worked but the colors were way off, AND I continued to get toner low notices. Then I read the posts above, and successfully re-set the toner low cartridge settings following the suggested procedure. The notices have now gone away, but my colors are still way off and unbalanced.

    I have even replaced the new non-OEM cartridges with the original Brother cartridges which I installed in early 2018. The colors are still off. Browns and tans now are pink. Greens are gray. These were the same cartridges what were printing good colors before I followed the reset procedure.

    Any ideas on how I might re-balance or re-calibrate the color settings?

  43. Thank You, Blessings To You, you have saved us hundreds of $$$$, not to mention peace of mind.

  44. Im sorry Bob – while we did find out how to save money on the low toner warnings, we are not experts in this area. I hope you were able to find an answer! ANd if so please share. 🙂

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