How to choose the right shipping label printer
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How to choose the right shipping label printer

Nov 09, 2023

How to choose the right shipping label printer

by: David Allan Van, BestReviews Staff

Posted: Apr 12, 2023 / 11:32 AM CDT

Updated: Apr 12, 2023 / 11:32 AM CDT

Shipping labels are affixed to packages and envelopes that are in and out of trucks, trains, planes and weather and handled by many people and machines. To make sure the things you ship arrive at their intended destination, they need labels that are clearly printed, securely attached and able to withstand exposure to all types of weather without damage or loss of function.

Don't confuse label printers with their smaller cousins, label makers. You can print shipping labels with dedicated thermal printers or with your existing inkjet or laser printer.

Thermal printers use heat to create black text and images directly on chemically treated heat-sensitive paper without ribbons, toner or ink. They are commonly used to produce labels, barcodes and receipts.

On the plus side, they’re:

On the negative side, you’ll find:

Positives to these include:

And then there are the negatives:

The pros here include:

And the cons:

The width of the labels you are able to print is the most important measurement and may vary from 2 to 8 inches. If you start your search for a shipping label printer by determining the dimensions of the labels you want to print, you won't buy the wrong printer. One-size printers prevail but many can print multiple label sizes.

The technical term for sharpness is resolution and the formula is simple: The smaller your label, the more dots per inch you will need. Most shipping labels need to be printed at 200 dpi or better. Highly detailed images may need higher dpi ratings.

The larger the number of shipping labels you need to print, the more you will appreciate having a machine that prints at a high rate of speed without compromising the quality of the resolution.

Not all shipping label printers are made to work with all computer operating systems. Make sure your printer is compatible with the operating system you use on your phone, computer and tablet.

UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, DHL and others all have preferences, specifications and rules for shipping labels. If you have a full-time shipping partner, choose a printer that makes labels their way. If you use a variety of shippers, look for a machine that works well with all of them.

If you’re printing lots of labels, choose a thermal printer that needs no ink or toner. Thermal print speeds are measured in millimeters per second, inches per second and pages per minute.

Arkscan 2054A Shipping Label Printer For Windows, Mac, Chromebook and Linux

Go beyond shipping labels to print barcode labels, product labels and more. The print width is three-quarters of an inch by 4.25 inches, it prints at 5 inches per second and the length of the printed label can be as long as 90 inches.

Sold by Amazon

Besteasy Thermal Shipping Label Printer

You can print labels in widths from 1.57 inches to 4.1 inches at up to 120mm per second with 203 dpi resolution. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux systems and is compatible with dozens of shipping platforms, including Amazon, FedEx, UPS and USPS.

Sold by Amazon

Jadens Bluetooth Wireless Thermal Shipping Label Printer

Use Android, iOS or Windows to print from dozens of platforms. You can choose from four label sizes and styles up to 4 by 6 inches and print them at 150mm per second at 203 dpi.

Sold by Amazon

K Comer 4×6 Direct Thermal Label Printer

This small printer supports tape widths from 1.57 inches to 4.6 inches and prints up to 86 labels per minute. It works with Windows, Mac and Linux and is compatible with major e-commerce and shipping platforms.

Sold by Amazon

Idprt SP410 4×6 Thermal Shipping Label Printer

This compact printer works with Windows, Mac OS and Linux devices. It prints any thermal 4-by-6-inch roll labels at 72 sheets per minute with 203 dpi.

Sold by Amazon

Phomemo Desktop Thermal Label Printer for Small Business

This compact unit prints monochrome labels from 1 to 4.7 inches wide with an intelligent paper return function that reduces waste. It is compatible with Windows and Mac.

Sold by Amazon

Jiose Thermal Shipping Label Printer

This compact printer handles all sizes and shapes of labels. It's compatible with Windows XP/7/8/10 and newer, Mac OS 10.9 and newer, and Chrome OS.

Sold by Amazon

If you only print a few labels, you may want to consider an inkjet or laser printer with shipping label print capabilities. You print on sheets instead of rolls and don't require heat-treated paper.

HP Envy Inspire 7255e Wireless Color All-in-One Inkjet Printer

You control all functions from the color touchscreen or print, scan and copy from your mobile devices. It prints high-resolution photos and comes with a six-month supply of instant ink.

Sold by Amazon and HP

Pantum Wireless Laser Printer Scanner Copier

You can print up to 35 pages of labels per minute from a USB drive or from your Android or iOS devices with the Pantum app.

Sold by Amazon

Avery Full Sheet 8.5-by-11-inch Printable Shipping Labels

These frosted clear labels are optimized for inkjet printers and virtually disappear on light surfaces. You can customize your labels by hand or use the free templates, designs and mail merge features.

Sold by Amazon

KK Bestpack Half-Sheet Shipping Labels for Laser and Inkjet Printers

This pack contains 200 white 8.5-by-5.5-inch shipping labels. The matte finish makes it easy for couriers to scan your labels at pickup. And you can make notes and special instructions on them with ballpoint pens and permanent markers.

Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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Inexpensive. Reliable. Sharp images. No ink cartridges required. Low maintenance. Black-and-white printing only. Special paper required. Thermal paper can be expensive. Good to excellent quality. Color-capable. Reliable. Sharp images. Ink can be expensive. Nozzles can clog. Excellent quality. Sharp images. Fast print speeds. Toner costs less than ink. Expensive. Larger and heavier than inkjet printers. Sheet printers Roll printers Sold by Sold by Sold by Sold by Sold by Sold by Sold by Sold by and Sold by Sold by Sold by