Making Nicer Printouts From the Web {beta}: Save money and the environment printing only what you like. - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008092414)Even the most devoted of web workers sometimes resorts to printing things out on bits of dead trees, in my experience. Maybe it’s the setup information for a new account or the instructions for some software or even your favorite LOLcat – sooner or later you’ll probably want to print a web page.

Unfortunately, this can be an annoying process, thanks to the bad match between “attractive and ad-laden HTML layout” and “useful printed record.” That’s where PrintWhatYouLike comes in. This simple (and free) service has one purpose: to allow you to customize the contents of a web page before you print it.

Using PrintWhatYouLike is easy. Visit their home page (or use their bookmarklet) and put in the URL that you want to print. The page will open within a PrintWhatYouLike frame. Then use their selection tools to start trimming. You can easily get rid of backgrounds and images, but you can also select any other HTML element on the page and make it go away. When you’re satisfied, just click Print and you get your nice clean paper record.

I’d like to see them add “copy” as well as “print”, for times when I want a clean digital record. But even as is, the service is useful enough to warrant giving it a bit of bookmarklet space in my browser.