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Whether you can write the book on organization or you’re about to go to war with a messy filing cabinet, a label maker will quickly become your favorite household gadget.
Older label machines could only print in one font and sometimes required you to type out each label individually, but today there are many more features. They come with different kinds of power requirements (batteries or AC power), different keyboard arrangements, and also different memory and storage options.
We researched the market and tested a range of devices to find the best label makers for different kinds of users.
Best Overall: Brother P-touch PTD210 Easy-to-Use Label Maker
Type: Handheld/Desktop | Max Label Width: 12-millimeters | Memory: 30 labels | Power Source: Battery-powered
Easy to use
Huge selection of customizable options
Screen is reflective and hard to see
AC power adaptor is not included
Whether you’re managing an office or cranking out crafts, the Brother P-touch PT-D210 is the ultimate one-stop shop for creating and printing high-quality labels. With a simple keyboard interface, it’s easy to scroll through numerous styles and templates. All told, the label maker includes 14 fonts, 97 frames, and over 600 symbols, allowing for virtually endless customization. Even better, the device’s screen provides a visual preview of your label before you print, saving you the frustration of wasting costly supplies.
The PTD210 can be powered by six AAA batteries or an AC adapter, and is lightweight at just over a pound. Customers rave about the incredible variety of fonts and frames, which make it ideal for craft projects or anyone who wants to add a dose of fun to their household organization. Some owners also prefer the Brother brand’s label tape to the types sold by its competitors, saying the backing paper is much easier to remove.
"We really liked the look of the default font—prominent black letters against a crisp white background for labeling basic items like file folder tabs and envelopes. The labels stand out nicely, especially on our brightly colored folders."—Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Best High-End: Brady BMP21-PLUS Handheld Label Printer with Rubber Bumpers
Type: Handheld | Max Label Width: 0.75-inch | Memory: 16 MB | Power Source: Battery-powered
Large selection of industrial labels
No QWERTY keyboard
Label makers aren’t just for home or office use. They have industrial applications as well, and the Brady BMP21-PLUS is the kind of sturdy, well-made product you’ll feel confident taking into the field. It couldn’t be simpler to use: Just add a label cartridge, type, and print. But with 8-10 year outdoor durability and a guarantee that each unit’s been tested to withstand shock and vibration, it has the kind of high-quality construction you can depend on. The device has a comfortable handheld design, includes over 100 built-in symbols, and is compatible with 70 different label types and eight forms of material, including self-laminating wire markers and outdoor vinyl.
Customers say the Brady BMP21-PLUS is “light years” ahead of other label makers, adding that the labels themselves are far more durable than what you’ll find with other products. Powered by six AA batteries, it also has some smart add-ons, like a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (sold separately), and a magnet you can use to mount the printer to a metal surface for hands-free operation.
"One of the best features on the BMP21-PLUS is the backlit display for low-light work areas. We took it into our backyard, which is incredibly dark at night, and we could see the screen clearly."—Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Best for Teachers: Brother P-touch Label Maker, PC-Connectable Labeler, PTD600
Type: Desktop | Max Label Width: 1-inch | Memory: 6 MB | Power Source: Battery-powered and AC power adapter (included)
Full color, high-resolution display
Large QWERTY keyboard for easy typing
Huge selection of customizable options
Certain labels require different sized tape
Whether you’re a teacher trying to get organized or you want to add a personal touch to class projects, label makers are a great addition to any classroom. We especially love the PTD600, another label maker from Brother’s P-touch line. It has the benefit of a full-color, high-resolution display that’s perfect for previewing the fun labels you can create to aid with daily organization, whether it’s name tags on the first day of school or labels for the books lining the shelves of your classroom library. The PTD600 has a compact design and connects with any PC or Mac via an included USB cable, and features fast print speeds and large keys for easy typing. It automatic tape cutter also makes printing high-volume jobs a breeze.
The PTD600 is highly versatile and even slightly addictive, Amazon shoppers write, saying it’s easy to create custom labels using your computer in tandem with the device. It includes 14 fonts, 11 styles, 99 frames, and over 600 symbols, while the display screen automatically recognizes the color of the tape being used for a truly accurate preview.
"Because the sample tape is fairly wide, it can print out thicker, more prominent labels. Some label makers can’t print vertically or make labels this large, so the Brother PT-D600 Labeler has a big advantage in this regard."—Sage McHugh, Product Tester
Best for Electricians: DYMO Industrial RhinoPRO 5200 Label Maker
Type: Handheld | Max Label Width: 0.75-inch | Memory: 0 | Power Source: Battery-powered
Great option for electricians
Hot-key feature that automatically formats labels
Over 100 industry symbols and fractions available
On the pricy side
Label makers are one of the must-have tools for electricians, right up there with a wire stripper and a multimeter. Our pick for electricians in the field is the DYMO Rhino 5200, which uses industrial labels that are chemical heat and UV-resistant—in other words, perfect for this line of work. Even better, it has a hot-key feature that automatically formats labels for electrical panels and terminal blocks, cable flags and more. Over 100 industry symbols and fractions are available with just a couple of keystrokes, and the ability to print matching labels in multiple formats saves time in the field (an optional lithium-ion battery also helps).
Customers say the DYMO Rhino 5200 is small and efficient, producing little waste, and the simple display is easy to read. Some buyers also call out its ability to print heat shrink tubing, allowing electricians to quickly label wires themselves (rather than create a separate tag).
Best with AC Adapter: DYMO Label Maker 210D
Type: Desktop | Max Label Width: 0.5-inch | Memory: 9 labels | Power Source: Battery-powered
Includes an adapter and six AA batteries
Limited in what symbols it can print
Need a label maker but don’t want to shell out extra money for an AC adapter? Dymo’s LM210D kit includes everything you’ll need, including the adapter and six AA batteries. The complete package is an affordable buy at just over $40, but you’ll still be getting a high-quality label maker suited to a range of jobs. The computer-style keyboard interface makes creating labels as simple as typing and hitting “print,” and the machine includes six fonts, seven styles and eight borders. It also allows users to store up to nine of your go-to labels for rapid access. In addition to the adapter and batteries, the kit comes with a roll of 1/2" x 10' tape (it has black print on a white background), so you’ll have everything you need to start creating labels right out of the box.
Buyers write that the Dymo LM210D is a great all-in-one package, noting that the print quality is clear and the interface make it easy to design both horizontal and vertical labels.
Best for Small Businesses: Brother QL-700 High-speed Professional Label Printer
Type: Desktop | Max Label Width: 2.4-inches | Memory: 0 | Power Source: Battery-powered
Can print 93 labels per minute
Easily syncs with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook
Thermal printing technology reduces supply costs
Installation isn't the easiest
Business owners tend to have different labeling needs than folks using a machine for crafting or industrial applications, with volume usually being a chief concern. Good news: the Brother QL-700 can print a blazing-fast 93 labels per minute, saving buckets of time for labeling envelopes, folders and even creating postage. The included P-touch editing software allows users to print off more advanced labels, like barcodes, and the device syncs up with Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook for easy office integration. Meanwhile, its thermal printing technology doesn’t require ink or toner (another plus for business owners looking to reduce supply costs).
Customers praise the included software, noting that it’s robust enough for business applications—for starters, it lets users import CSV files or connect to external data sources, so they can create their own QR codes. If you need a top-notch label maker for your small business, the Brother QL-700 is the way to go.
What to Look for in a Label Maker
For ease of use, opt for a label maker with a QWERTY keyboard. There’s one exception, though: kids may find it easier to operate a label maker with a keyboard in ABC order.
If you plan on reprinting the same labels over and over again, storage is paramount. Opt for a label maker that can store your most-used labels to save you time.
Battery vs. adapter
Most label makers run on AA or AAA batteries, which can be expensive to replace repeatedly. Look for a model that comes with an AC power adapter to cut down on those costs.