As my husband will attest, I’m not a tool person. I’m not interested in using the sous vide machine husband brings out whenever we buy a very expensive piece of steak, and my first effort at making something in the Instant Pot resulted in tears and a scorched but undercooked chili. (Too much bulgur and insufficient fluids!) But what about my label maker? You’ll have to pull that instrument from my cold, lifeless, semi-organized hands.
When my older daughter was a newborn, I was spending an inordinate amount of time and energy stocking our freezer with healthful finger foods. The label maker assisted me in keeping track of my extensive baby food supply (after all, a quinoa-banana pancake doesn’t seem all that different from a quinoa-applesauce pancake—and god forbid you serve your child two such comparable products in the same day). More significantly, having all those nicely printed labels made me feel like I was on top of things, even though getting myself and my tiny kid out the door for a walk around the block was nearly impossible on many days.
That kid now walks herself to school, but I still get excited when I see a freezer or cupboard full of identically labeled food packages. After my ten-year-old label maker broke down, I went on the lookout for a new one, evaluating five different models to see which was the most functional and user-friendly. Continue reading to find out which label maker I ended up preferring; for more information on how I tested, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Whether you’ve written the book on organizing or are preparing to go to battle with a disorganized filing cabinet, a label maker will quickly become your favorite household item.
Older label machines could only print in one typeface and often needed you to type out each label individually, but today’s label printers have a plethora of functions. They have varying power requirements (battery or AC power), different keyboard layouts, and different memory and storage possibilities.
We explored the industry and tested a variety of label makers to determine the best label makers for all types of consumers.
How can I determine which label maker is right for me?
Consider how you intend to use it: If you only need it to mark file folders or baskets in your storage closet, you may not need the sophisticated functions used for crafting or scrapbooking. You can start narrowing down your selections once you know how much personalization you want—from colorful tapes to a variety of fonts and sizes to the ability to print emojis.
What kind of printing technology is used by label makers?
Most label makers use thermal printing technology, which eliminates the need for ink and toner, like you would with an inkjet or laser printer. Thermal printing is a quick and dependable method for producing labels.
Is it necessary for some label makers to be compatible with other devices?
If you want to develop personalized designs that are easier on a desktop or laptop, several label makers connect with a PC or Mac. There are also label makers that must be powered via Bluetooth by a smartphone or tablet app. Because they lack a built-in keyboard and screen, you’ll need to use an app to create and transmit labels to a printer.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Label Maker
Choose a label maker with a QWERTY keypad for simplicity of usage. There is one exception: children may find it easier to use a label maker with an alphabetical keyboard.
If you intend to reprint the same labels repeatedly, storage is critical. To save time, choose a label maker that can save your most-used labels.
Battery vs Adapter
Most label makers use AA or AAA batteries, which can be costly to replace on a regular basis. To save money, go for a model that includes an AC power adaptor.
Ease of Use
For me, this was the most significant criterion. I needed a label maker that I could pull out of the box and use right away, without having to read the instructions. I also wanted to make the labeling procedure as short as feasible. There was a significant difference in the amount of time each label maker took to print a label: one model took 15 seconds—which is a long time when you’re waiting for a tiny label to print—while the winner model only took 5 seconds.
Design/Quality of Materials
I wanted a label maker that wasn’t too heavy or bulky, but still felt excellent and strong in my hands. I also paid close attention to the tape that came with each label maker because the quality varied greatly between companies. Some tapes appeared shiny and smooth, whilst others appeared matte and dreary. I also wanted to know if the labels were simple to use once they were printed, such as whether I could quickly peel off the paper backing of the label tape or if I needed a torch and a pair of tweezers.
Variety of Functions
As previously stated, I prefer a simple label maker. I’m not seeking to print complex templates or “fun” typefaces, but I do occasionally want to alter the font size or capitalization—and I’d rather not have to read a 20-page manual to do so.
Label Makers We Tested
We put five label manufacturers through their paces, each with its own set of features and price ranges. Two of those models, the Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker ($40) and the DYMO LabelWriter 450 Turbo Thermal Label Printer ($73), provide extended digital capabilities: they connect via Bluetooth to your phone (Brother) or a USB cable to your computer (DYMO), allowing you to get creative with your graphics and templates if that’s your thing. The DYMO Labelwriter 450 Turbo Thermal also prints postage and can print up to 71 labels per minute. Of course, none of them are things I expect to need to accomplish.
To use the sleekly designed Brother P-Touch Cube, you must first download the proprietary P-Touch software, which is a deal breaker for me given my can-I-just-pick-it-up-and-use-it criterion. However, if the notion of making labels from the comfort of your phone appeals to you, this is the device to look into.
The final item we examined was the DYMO LetraTag ($18), which included an alphabetical keypad, a loud and slow printer, and cheap-looking labels with difficult-to-peel-off paper backings.
Cost efficiency and refill
We calculated cost-efficiency by calculating the cost per label. We utilized conventional half-inch and full-inch width labels (when applicable). We computed the average cost of 10 feet of standard label tape because there is no defined length of tape. We then used each label maker to generate labels with two inches of text (the length from the first letter to the last letter was two inches).
We were able to calculate the total number of labels that would be created with the 10 feet of tape by integrating the amount of unused tape. So, we calculated the cost per label by taking the cost of the tape and the entire length of tape wasted each label.
We also looked at the chain-printing capability on some, which significantly reduced the cost per label (by more than a third!). Chain printing is used when the same label needs to be printed many times. The label printer will print your desired number in a row, leaving no time for you to manually clip the tape. And, because this function eliminates the requirement for the label maker to utilize the customary amount of tape to begin printing, it reduces the overall amount of tape used by minimizing waste.
The Brother P-touch PT-D210 is the ultimate one-stop shop for generating and printing high-quality labels, whether you manage an office or make crafts. Scrolling between many styles and templates is straightforward using a basic keyboard interface. The label maker features 14 typefaces, 97 frames, and over 600 symbols in total, allowing for nearly limitless personalization. Even better, the device’s screen shows you a visual preview of your label before you print it, saving you the aggravation of squandering expensive supplies.
The PTD210 weighs little over a pound and is powered by six AAA batteries or an AC adaptor. Customers love the vast selection of fonts and frames, which make it excellent for craft projects or anybody looking to spice up their household organizing. Some owners also prefer the Brother brand’s label tape to competitors’, claiming that the backing paper is easier to remove
- Easy to use
- Built-in cutter
- Huge selection of customizable options
- Screen is reflective and hard to see
- AC power adaptor is not included
Label makers aren’t just for the house or the office. They also have industrial applications, and the Brady BMP21-PLUS is the type of durable, well-made product you’ll feel comfortable putting into the field. It could not be easier to use: Simply insert a label cartridge, type, and print. However, with an outside durability warranty of 8-10 years and a guarantee that each item has been tested to endure shock and vibration, it has the kind of high-quality build you can rely on. The gadget offers a convenient handheld design and over 100 built-in symbols, as well as compatibility with 70 various label kinds and eight different types of material, including self-laminating wire markers and outdoor vinyl.
Customers believe the Brady BMP21-PLUS is “light years” ahead of other label manufacturers, and the labels themselves are significantly more durable. It also contains some clever extras, such as a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a magnet for mounting the printer to a metal surface for hands-free operation.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Backlit display
- Large selection of industrial labels
- Batteries required
- No QWERTY keyboard
At roughly $86, the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo is slightly more expensive than some of the competition. However, because it can print 71 labels a minute, it’s a compromise that’s probably worth it for anyone who needs to print in large quantities. It’s also more advanced than your average label maker, connecting to your PC or Mac to allow you to effortlessly print your own bespoke designs. And, because it uses thermal printing technologies rather than expensive ink or toner, you may end up saving money on supplies in the long run.
The Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo boasts a stylish, modern appearance that looks fantastic on a desk. It can also print USPS-approved postage with the addition of DYMO Stamps software. Customers say it’s extremely beneficial at the office, and it’s saved them countless trips to the post office (or to Staples to buy more ink).
If you’re a craftsman looking for a label maker that prioritizes customisation, the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 is definitely what you’re looking for. This label creator includes a ton of options, including 14 fonts, 10 styles, over 75 frames, and over 300 built-in symbols. If you’re working on many craft projects at the same time, the LW-400 has adequate on-device capacity to save up to 50 different files. Epson labels also have smaller margins than other brands, measuring around.5 inches on each side, which reduces tape waste.
Customers say the Epson LabelWorks LW-400 is ideal for a wide range of applications, and they like mixing and matching typefaces and styles with different types of tape (silver sparkles, anyone?) to achieve the desired effect.
Label makers are a terrific addition to any classroom, whether you’re a teacher trying to keep organized or you want to add a personal touch to class projects. Another label maker from Brother’s P-touch line that we particularly like is the PTD600. It includes a full-color, high-resolution display, which is ideal for previewing the creative labels you may create to help with daily organization, such as name tags on the first day of school or labels for the books lining the shelves of your classroom library. The PTD600 has a small footprint and connects to any PC or Mac using the provided USB cable. It boasts rapid print speeds and wide buttons for simple typing. Its automated tape cutter also simplifies printing high-volume projects.
According to Amazon customers, the PTD600 is incredibly versatile and perhaps slightly addicting, and it’s simple to design personalized labels using your computer and the gadget. It comes with 14 typefaces, 11 styles, 99 frames, and over 600 symbols, and the display screen recognizes the color of the tape being used to provide a truly accurate representation.
- Rhino 5200 Industrial Label Maker Kit
Label makers, along with a wire remover and a multimeter, are essential tools for electricians. The DYMO Rhino 5200 is our recommendation for field electricians because it employs industrial labels that are chemical, thermal, and UV resistant—in other words, ideal for this line of work. Even better, it contains a hot-key feature that produces labels for electrical panels and terminal blocks, cable flags, and other items automatically. With a few keystrokes, you may access over 100 industrial symbols and fractions, and the ability to print matching labels in several formats saves time in the field (an optional lithium-ion battery also helps).
Customers praise the DYMO Rhino 5200 for being tiny and efficient, producing little waste, and having an easy-to-read display. Some consumers also praise its capacity to print heat shrink tubing, which allows electricians to swiftly mark wires (rather than create a separate tag).
- Great option for electricians
- Hot-key feature that automatically formats labels
- Over 100 industry symbols and fractions available
- On the pricy side
Need a label maker but don’t want to pay more for an AC adapter? The LM210D package from Dymo comes with everything you need, including the adaptor and six AA batteries. At just over $40, the full set is an economical bargain, but you’ll still get a high-quality label maker suitable for a variety of purposes. The computer-style keyboard interface makes labeling as simple as typing and pressing “print,” and the machine comes with six fonts, seven styles, and eight borders. It also allows users to save up to nine of their favorite labels for quick access.
In addition to the converter and batteries, the kit includes a roll of 1/2″ x 10′ tape (with black print on a white background), so you’ll have everything you need to get started right away.
Buyers say the Dymo LM210D is a superb all-in-one package, adding that the print quality is good and the interface makes designing both horizontal and vertical labels simple.
- Includes an adapter and six AA batteries
- Computer-style keyboard
- Limited in what symbols it can print
Business owners’ labeling requirements differ from those of those who use a machine for crafting or industrial uses, with volume usually being the most important consideration. The good news is that the Brother QL-700 can print 93 labels every minute, which saves time when labeling envelopes, folders, and even printing postage. Users may print more complicated labels, such as barcodes, using the bundled P-touch editing software, and the device syncs with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook for seamless office integration. Meanwhile, its thermal printing process does not necessitate the use of ink or toner (another plus for business owners looking to reduce supply costs).
Customers laud the accompanying software, noting that it is robust enough for corporate applications—for example, it allows users to import CSV files or connect to external data sources in order to generate their own QR codes. The Brother QL-700 is the way to go if you need a high-quality label maker for your small business.
Although it appears to be similar to other handheld label printers, Dymo’s LabelManager 420P offers a lot for a small price. It feels excellent in the hand and can print on a wide variety of labels in eight fonts, seven sizes, and includes with over 200 symbols and clipart pictures. It is 2.2 x 8.5 x 4.4 inches and weighs just over 1 pound. Its internal memory can save up to 15 commonly used labels, and its 180 dot per inch thermal printing ensures that everything is readable. The 420P employs tapes that are 1/4- to 3/4-inch wide and are kept in Dymo’s easy-change D1 cassettes.
The LM 420P is unique in that it can do two functions. It can go from a handheld label maker with an ABC-style keypad for spontaneous labels in the basement to a printer connected to a Windows or Mac computer in the kitchen for printing address labels from a spreadsheet or database file. Its four-line illuminated display gives a preview of the labels that are going to be printed, however the labels must be manually cut free from the roll. Given all of the labeling activities that the LM 420P can perform, this is a small annoyance.
The Brother QL-1100 is one of the most expensive label makers on the market, but it excels at producing wide-format labels that are ideal for addressing boxes and envelopes. The QL-1100’s thermal print engine can make a variety of unique labels up to 4.1-inches wide, works with rolls of stickers, prints in super-sharp 300 by 300 dot-per-inch quality, and automatically cuts labels to length. It makes it simple to produce a range of labels by selecting the largest font that fits on the label and including digital postage, all on a single printed label.
The QL-1100 can produce up to 69 labels per minute, making it equally handy for generating shipping labels for a small business as it is for addressing a PTA newsletter. It includes a USB cable for direct connection to Windows, Linux, and Mac computers, but that’s only the beginning. The QL-1100 can print from numerous Android Tablets and Phones using the company’s free iPrint&Label app and a simple On The Go (OTG) USB cable, both of which must be purchased separately.
When it comes to speed, Brother’s QL-800 label maker delivers with an astounding 93 labels per minute, but with a colorful twist. It is ideal for individuals who need to print shipping labels, file folders, or even name badges quickly. The QL-800’s 300-dot-per-inch thermal print engine produces pinpoint crisp labels, and the QL-800 can print in black and red if you use Brother’s DK2251 specialized stickers. This two-color printing can add an added degree of creative versatility, allowing items such as “No Smoking” signs or personalized name tags to stand out. On the negative side, the QL-800 has a maximum label width of 2.4 inches.
Nonetheless, the 4.9- by 8.4- by 5.6-inch printer should sit comfortably on or beside a desktop. The bundled Brother P-touch label design software makes making and printing labels simple. It is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh computers and supports printing from Word, Excel, and Outlook. It can print from numerous Android Tablets and Phones using Brother’s inbuilt iPrint&Label app and an OTG USB connector, making the QL-800 one of the most versatile printers available.
Brother’s P-touch Cube Plus demonstrates that good things may come in small packages. The jet black Cube Plus, measuring 7.8 by 8.2 by 0.4 inches and weighing 14 ounces, fits effortlessly into a kitchen drawer, backpack, or jacket pocket. It can be connected to a Windows or Mac computer via the provided USB cable, or via Bluetooth wireless link with a tablet or phone via the iPrint&Label software.
It is powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery, which can be charged via the provided USB cord with a computer or an AC adapter. It boasts endless design options because to the flexibility to use True Type, Google, or Apple fonts, and the unit’s 180 by 360 dot per inch printing resolution is sharper than most competitors. The Cube Plus, despite its small size, can print on laminated tape up to 1-inch wide and comes with thousands of symbols and over 300 pre-designed templates for crafting, scrapbooking, light switch labeling, and creative container marking.
For those searching for a creative labeling outlet, the Brother P-Touch PTD215E Embellish is a tape printer with a twist. The PTD215E Embellish not only comes with 14 fonts, 90 borders, 400 symbols, and 25 background patterns, but it may also help you unleash your labeling creativity. With the ability to print on half-inch wide tape, it is not only useful for labelling drawers and boxes, but it can also add flair and beauty to a scrapbook or make a birthday present look particularly special. The PTD215E Embellish comes in a variety of ribbon tape styles, ranging from mint or silver lace to gold geometric patterns or pink hearts and purple flowers. The most difficult element will be deciding which one to utilize.
Its 180 dot per inch printing resolution should be sufficient for designating a circuit breaker panel or labeling stocking shelves. The printer’s QWERTY keyboard is simple to operate, with specific keys for selecting the font and previewing the label on the device’s 15-character display. The PTD215E Embellish is powered by six AAA batteries or an AC adapter, neither of which is provided.
If your label-making requirements are simple and straightforward, consider purchasing a Brother P-Touch PT-D210 or a DYMO LabelManager 160. If you’re not afraid of technology and want to create more elaborate label designs (maybe with horse iconography), go with the Brother P-Touch Cube Smartphone Label Maker.