The Best Label Makers Tested in 2023

Organize your home and office, print up small business basics, create cool crafts, and more with the quality label maker that suits your needs, style, and budget.

By Glenda Taylor and Debbie Wolfe | Updated Dec 6, 2022 9:50 AM

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The Best Label Makers Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

If you’ve ever searched through a stack of storage boxes, vainly trying to find what you need, you may have wished you’d have labeled those containers from the start. A quality label maker is an ideal solution to that situation, but these devices are great for more than identifying the contents of boxes. They can ID each cord in the indistinguishable tangle behind your PC, create attractive place cards for guests, print barcodes for small businesses, and even help clarify which family member owns a specific toothbrush or stapler.

Thanks to technology, today’s label makers have come a long way from the clunky devices of the past. They may feature digital LED readouts, QWERTY keyboards, and even print emoticons, borders, and other symbols on self-stick labels. But which model is truly ideal for different uses? To find out, we hand tested a number of popular models so shoppers can more easily find the best label makers to get organized with ease.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Brother PTD220 Home/Office Everyday Label Maker
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Dymo Organizer Express Pro Embossing Label Maker Kit
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Brother VC500W Compact Color Label and Photo Printer
  4. BEST HANDHELD: Dymo LabelManager 160 Portable Label Maker
  5. MOST VERSATILE: Brother PTP710BT P-touch Cube Plus Label Maker
  6. BEST PORTABLE: Niimbot D11 Smart Label Printer
  7. BEST FOR CRAFTERS: Cricut Joy Starter Bundle Joy Machine & Vinyl Sampler
  8. BEST TECH: Phomemo M200 Thermal Label Printer
The Best Label Makers Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Label Maker

Label makers are handy printing tools that can help organize all sorts of around-the-house and in-the-workshop items. They’re especially useful in a home office, coming in handy to classify files, documents, and other work-related items. Of course, folks who rarely need printed labels may be better off buying sheets of self-stick labels to use with a regular word processing program and home printer rather than add yet another item to an already crowded desk. But those who do decide to invest in a label maker should consider such key features as available fonts, keyboard layout, size, and whether or not the unit is portable.

Overall Size

Handheld units are relatively small—just a few inches in width and length—and easy to stow in a purse or a large pocket. Desktop models take up more real estate: Larger ones are up to a foot wide and just as deep, but there are a number of units available that run about 6 inches wide and deep. In addition, some of today’s desktop label makers connect to a PC, so if desk space is severely limited, choose a wireless model that can be placed on a nearby shelf—that way it won’t crowd out other peripherals, such as a monitor or a keyboard.

Screen Size

Old-school manual label makers don’t have screens; instead, the user chooses numerals and letters by turning a wheel to select each letter in turn. But many of today’s label makers (both handheld and desktop models) come with LED screens that range from ½-inch high and a few inches wide—just enough to enter a single line of text—to about 2 inches high and 4 inches wide to display large fonts and multiline text. The largest screens are not on the label makers themselves but rather on PC monitors, if the label maker can connect to a computer or tablet. Designing labels on a full-size monitor screen is great if the label maker allows users to select from a wide variety of fonts and images. These “connected” label makers often have no screen on the unit itself.

Battery

Today’s label makers accept a wide range of batteries, including standard AA or AAA alkaline batteries, 9-volt batteries, and even rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Many come with the option of running the label maker on either batteries or a plug-in power cord. Some models come with internal batteries that are charged by plugging the unit into a charger, while others accept batteries that are removed from the unit and replaced when needed.

Full QWERTY Keyboard

By the time kids reach middle school these days, they’re usually familiar with the standard QWERTY keyboard, which offers the same letter and numeral configuration found on computer and laptop keyboards. For many, this is the preferred layout because it’s the one they use daily for work and correspondence. Keep in mind that label-maker keyboards are usually too small to use fingers as users would do when typing. Instead, plan to use a single finger (or a stylus) when keying in letters, similar to how text is entered on a cell phone. In addition to the standard letters and numbers, label makers feature “function” keys to change fonts or add images and borders to labels.

Multiple-Line Print

All label makers print a single line of text, but many print two lines, and a few print three or four lines. Multiple-line label makers usually accommodate wider labels, up to 2 inches wide. The user can often select to print multiple lines or opt to print a single line with a larger font, depending on the particular unit’s options.

Barcode Printing

Barcodes are used in retail sales to mark different products for quick identification by a barcode scanner. Not all label makers are capable of printing barcodes, but if shoppers need to create this type of label, they will want to select a model that either comes with software that creates barcodes or uses a downloadable app that syncs with the label maker. Label makers with this function may not have the additional features found on standard label makers, such as the ability to select fonts and include images.

Adjustable Tape Margins

A label’s margin relates to the amount of blank portion of the tape that appears before and after the printed text. Margin-size selection is not available on all label makers, but when it is, the user may select from margins as wide as 1 inch on both the right and left sides to margins as narrow as 1/16 inch on both sides. For models without margin adjustments, users can simply cut away excess tape with a pair of scissors.

Font Options

The ability to select from different fonts (typefaces) lets crafters customize projects, such as scrapbooks or decorating jars of homemade jellies and jams. Most label makers offer at least three or four font choices, but some offer 20 or more, allowing users to choose from block-style, plain-type, and even fancy script fonts. In addition to font type, many label makers offer additional font options, such as italic or bold.

The Best Label Makers Options

Photo: Debbie Wolfe

Our Top Picks

To qualify as one of the recommendations for the best label maker, a tool must be easy to use, durable, and work with label tape that has real sticking power. We hand tested the following models and found them to be well suited to various projects.

Best Overall

The Best Label Maker Option: Brother PTD220 Home Office Everyday Label Maker
Photo: amazon.com

The Brother PTD220 label maker boasts a simple interface that makes getting started fast and easy. Featuring a QWERTY keyboard and quick one-touch formatting keys, this desktop label maker offers five font sizes, 14 fonts, 11 font styles, 99 frames, over 600 symbols, and up to two lines of printing.

The machine uses six AAA batteries or an optional AC adapter (both not included). The label maker also has 25 preset label templates and can store up to 30 label designs for quick and easy reprints. The machine accommodates up to ½-inch labels and prints with a 180 dpi resolution.

Brother label makers are known for their ease of use and durability, and the PTD220 did not disappoint. This label maker received top ratings for every attribute we tested. It was easy to set up and use almost right out of the box. It came with a 12-millimeter label-tape sample that made it ready to use once batteries were added. We made dozens of labels while trying out the various font sizes, styles, symbols, and frames, and found that the PTD220 printed each label quickly, with consistent, clear resolution. The labels are easy to remove and are very durable.

Product Specs

  • Type: Desktop
  • Power supply: 6 AAA batteries or AC adapter
  • Weight: 1.08 pounds

Pros

  • Operation is so intuitive, users may be able to get started printing immediately
  • Labels are inexpensive and easy to find at most office supply stores and big-box retailers
  • Labels are durable and water-resistant; suitable for use in kitchen, bathroom, and for garage storage items

Cons

  • AC adapter is not included; can be purchased separately

Get the Brother PTD220 label maker at Amazon or Office Depot.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Label Maker Option: Dymo Organizer Express Pro Embossing Label Maker Kit
Photo: amazon.com

Those who’d rather not pony up for a high-tech label maker should consider this budget-friendly manual model. The Dymo Organizer Express Pro Embossing Label Maker Kit features an easy-to-use turn-and-click labeling system with a 49-character wheel that includes text, numbers, and symbols. It’s easy to load and comes with three spools of label tape. It’s lightweight, portable, and does not need a power source. Those who’d rather not pony up for a high-tech label maker should consider this budget-friendly manual model. The Dymo Organizer Express Pro Embossing Label Maker Kit features an easy-to-use turn-and-click labeling system with a 49-character wheel that includes text, numbers, and symbols. It’s easy to load and comes with three spools of label tape. It’s lightweight, portable, and does not need a power source.

We enjoyed using this old-school device and appreciated the retro-style labels it produces. The only downside we found in testing is that it’s not possible to backspace or delete. That means there’s no way to fix spelling errors or other mistakes—a whole new label must be created. But for occasional use at a great price, this is a handy tool to have around when getting organized around the house.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power supply: None
  • Weight: 5.35 ounces

Pros

  • Doesn’t require batteries and 3 rolls of label tape are included.
  • Turn-and-click device; 49-character wheel with text, numbers, and symbols
  • Lightweight and portable; old-school device fits easily into a backpack or desk drawer

Cons

  • No backspace function, so mistakes can’t be corrected

Get the Dymo Organizer label maker on Amazon.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Label Maker Option: Brother VC500W Compact Color Label and Photo Printer
Photo: amazon.com

The Brother VC-500W uses the same zero-ink ZINK technology deployed in many mini photo printers. This tech allows the user to print full-color labels, photos, stickers, and more. The label maker includes a 1-inch roll of ZINK Paper, a cleaning roll, a power adapter, and a quick-start guide to get started right out of the box.

The Brother VC-500W features five label roll-width options and prints up to 17 inches in a single pass. Brother’s free Color Label Editor 2 App designs labels on the go that users can save and print later. The app works on mobile devices and Windows or Mac computers and has customizable features such as frames, fonts, symbols, art, backgrounds, and ready-made designs. It will even print images from a phone or tablet camera roll. The printer connects to the app via Wi-Fi and uses Airprint technology to print directly from smart devices in the same network.

The Brother VC-500W did a phenomenal job printing full-color photos and text on its ZINK labels. We particularly liked the photo booth option in the app that let us take a series of photos with fun backgrounds, just like a real photo booth. The print quality was very good. The only issue, other than the cost of label rolls, was that the printer only works on Wi-Fi. This means printing is only possible from mobile devices on a connected network.

Product Specs

  • Type: Desktop
  • Power supply: AC adapter
  • Weight: 3.6 pounds

Pros

  • Prints full-color labels and photos from the Color Label Editor 2 App or the camera roll on smart devices
  • App offers several design options, including a fun photo booth
  • ZINK labels are durable and available in several sizes

Cons

  • Label cartridges are expensive, especially the color ZINK labels
  • It does not have Bluetooth capabilities; a Wi-Fi connection is necessary to print

Get the Brother VC500W label maker at Amazon, Staples, or Office Depot.

Best Handheld

The Best Label Maker Option: Dymo LabelManager 160 Portable Label Maker
Photo: amazon.com

The Dymo LabelManager 160 is a compact and lightweight label maker with more than 200 symbols, clip art, and 20-plus options to format text. The machine accommodates label widths in ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch (6-mm, 9-mm, and12-mm) sizes in a variety of colors. It’s easy to use right out of the box and requires minimal setup.

In our testing, we thought the Dymo LabelManager 160’s standout feature was its auto power-off function that turns the tool off after 2 minutes of inactivity—valuable to extend the life of the six AAA batteries that power the machine. However, the label maker also accommodates an AC adapter (sold separately). The Dymo 160 produced durable labels in a variety of styles. Although it’s a handheld machine, it was somewhat bulky, and small-handed users may find it cumbersome to use one-handed.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power supply: 6 AAA batteries or AC adapter
  • Weight: 12.05 ounces

Pros

  • Easy to set up and use right out of the box; comes preloaded with a label spool
  • Dozens of font and clip-art options available for creating fun, unique labels
  • Features an automatic switch-off function to help conserve battery life

Cons

  • Large and may be cumbersome for people with small hands to hold
  • AC adapter is not included but can be purchased separately

Get the Dymo LabelManager label maker at Amazon, Staples, or Office Depot.

Most Versatile

The Best Label Maker Option: Brother P-Touch Cube Plus PT-P710BT Label Maker
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking to create a lot of different labels should consider the Brother P-touch Cube Plus Label Maker—and connectivity reaches new heights with this model, too. Users can wirelessly download the software with a Bluetooth-compatible computer, smartphone, or tablet, and then simply design the labels on their device and print them from the stylish P-touch Cube. The software includes a wide variety of creative templates, fonts, symbols, and frames to create attractive custom labels.

The Bluetooth label maker accepts P-touch tape (the standard tape used on all the Brother P-series devices) and comes with two sample tape spools. It’s compatible with Apple and Android mobile devices and desktop computers. Users can also connect the Cube directly via an included USB cord. The P-touch Cube runs on a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and it plugs into a household electrical outlet.

The Brother PTP710BT P-touch Cube Plus’s standout feature is the vast array of styles, fonts, and symbols available on the P-touch Design & Print and/or Brother iPrint & Label app. The setup is easy, and it runs on Bluetooth technology. We liked that the machine boasts a rechargeable battery or USB to power it. It printed fast, and each label looked clear and crisp. The Cube is pricey, however, and the label quality is identical to the Brother PTD220—the only difference is that labels are created on the app versus a keyboard.

Product Specs

  • Type: Desktop
  • Power supply: Rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds

Pros

  • Runs on a rechargeable battery or with a USB power cord
  • Features a label cutter that automatically aligns the tape spool for the next label
  • P-touch label cartridges are widely available in office supply stores and big-box retailers

Cons

  • More than double the cost of the Brother PTD220

Get the Brother PTP710BT label maker at Amazon or Staples.

Best Portable

The Best Label Maker Option: Niimbot D11 Smart Label Printer
Photo: amazon.com

Whether organizing boxes in a storage unit or helping put away seasonal items at a school or church after the holidays, a portable label maker can be a real asset. For such situations, consider the lightweight Niimbot D11 thermal label maker. It uses wireless Bluetooth technology to design and print predesigned or custom labels up to 15 millimeters wide from a mobile device. It boasts a rechargeable battery with a USB adapter—and even plays a joyful tune as it powers on and off.

The little printer performed remarkably well in testing. The free app features dozens of fonts and styles and can import images and create barcodes and QR codes. The thermal labels are moderately priced, available in various colors, and have a transparent option (sold separately). The app is straightforward, and the machine prints quickly and clearly. The only downside we found was that there is only one label-size option (15 by 50 millimeters), but aside from that, we can easily recommend this model for making attractive and consistent labels on the go.

Product Specs

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power supply: Rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 7.03 ounces

Pros

  • Lightweight and easily fits in a purse, backpack, or large pocket
  • App is simple and has a lot of fun fonts and design options
  • Offers Bluetooth connectivity, so users can print wherever there is a cell connection

Cons

  • Only prints 15-millimeter by 50-millimeter labels, which may be too small for some applications

Get the Niimbot label maker on Amazon.

Best for Crafters

The Best Label Maker Option: Cricut Joy Starter Bundle Joy Machine & Vinyl Sampler
Photo: amazon.com

Cricut added the Joy to its die-machine lineup in early 2020 as a smaller, less expensive alternative to the company’s popular Maker model. The Joy weighs less than 4 pounds, yet it cuts and writes on material up to 20 feet in length. It runs on Bluetooth connectivity, making this die machine very portable, and the starter bundle includes ample supplies to get started.

The Cricut Joy will make precise, intricate cuts from various popular materials like card stock, vinyl decal, and iron-on transfers, and it draws and writes using Cricut pens. Design Space, a free app, can work with fonts and uploaded photos from a user’s device and also lets folks choose images, fonts, and projects that can be purchased from the Cricut library.

The machine and app are simple to operate, and we had no issues getting started. In testing, we created dozens of labels with the Cricut Joy, using the plethora of premade designs from the app. It was also easy to make up our own unique design with the software. While some materials (such as Smart Vinyl and replacement blades) are pricey, the Joy has impressive label-making capabilities and offers so much more, making this machine a dream for crafters.

Product Specs

  • Type: Desktop
  • Power supply: AC adapter
  • Weight: 3.85 pounds

Pros

  • Makes several types of labels and other items, such as heat-transfer iron-ons and cards
  • Setup, design, and printing from the Design Space App is easy
  • Compact design takes up little desk space but offers nearly the same capabilities as the Maker model
  • Offers Bluetooth connectivity, so printing is possible wherever there’s a cell connection

Cons

  • Materials are expensive
  • Cutting blades will need to be replaced eventually

Get the Cricut label maker on Amazon.

Best Tech

The Best Label Maker Option: Phomemo M200 Thermal Label Printer
Photo: amazon.com

For the ultimate in ink-free printing, take a look at the Phomemo M200 Thermal Label Printer. This device uses thermal technology—no messy toner or ink to deal with—to create labels up to 3 inches wide. The machine features an LCD interface to monitor battery levels and status.

The standout feature of the Phomemo printer is its app, Print Master. Users can choose from dozens of label borders, over 100 fonts, hundreds of icons, many label templates, and the ability to create custom templates. The app also creates barcodes and QR codes. Swapping the label tape is quick and easy, and the printer automatically lines up the next label once the roll is inserted.

In testing, Phomemo’s Print Master offered excellent options for customization. We could easily import graphics, add text, and size the overall design to our needs. The only downside is that the label selection is pretty limited (primarily white or transparent), and it only prints in black. Aside from that issue, this is a solid machine for small businesses, home organization, and crafters.

Product Specs

  • Type: Desktop
  • Power supply: Rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 14.15 ounces

Pros

  • App is easy and intuitive to use and offers ready-made templates
  • Prints fast and clearly; can print photos and graphics
  • Offers Bluetooth connectivity to print anywhere there is a cell connection

Cons

  • Limited label selection and only prints in black

Get the Phomemo label maker on Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks



Our Verdict

The Brother PTD220 label maker earned our Best Overall award due to its versatility, label design options, and solid printing performance. It creates labels easily, and users can customize them to fit their needs. The Dymo Organizer label maker is another excellent label-making choice. It doesn’t require batteries and makes durable, water-resistant labels. It’s inexpensive and small enough to fit on a desk, in a kitchen drawer, or in a backpack.

How We Tested the Best Label Makers

We tested each label maker according to an established rubric that included setup and instructions, portability, functionality, and overall value. We rated the label makers on a scale of 0 to 4 to determine their score.

Once unboxed, we loaded each device with the appropriate label cartridge. Then, each label maker was plugged in and charged, or batteries were added. We downloaded the app (if required) and printed dozens of labels to test the design functions. We took note of the ease of setup, how easy it was to navigate the app, the quality of the print, and how quickly it printed. Lastly, we applied the labels to various surfaces to see how easy it was to remove the adhesive backing, how well it stuck to different surfaces, and how easy it was to remove.

FAQs

If you still want more information on using a label maker, consider the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these handy organizational devices.

Q. How does a label maker work?

Most label makers feature a small screen and a keyboard that allow you to key in lines of text, which are then printed on self-adhesive tape that comes with a peel-off backing.

Q. How do you laminate labels?

Applying a glossy, clear label on top of a printed label from a label maker will keep it from smearing. This can be helpful if label items will be used outdoors or in a workshop setting where they might get wet.

Q. What can you use a label maker for?

The most common use is for organizing items around the house and office, such as labeling boxes and bins as to their contents.