It is astounding how many people across the globe say (with some frustration) ‘my printer won’t print!’ in a day.
So, if you have suddenly found yourself in that league, don’t worry because you are not alone and you can quite assuredly fix printer problems that you might be facing.
Most common printer problems can be solved with some basic troubleshooting. A few others might require some advanced steps to solve. This guide can help you find how to fix a printer that won’t print. So, read on!
Common Printer Problems
This inclusive list below can let you know at a glance about some of the most common printer problems that occur and is the reason for your printer to suddenly stop printing.
- Connectivity Issues
- Driver Issues
- Jammed Queue
- Ghost Paper Jam
- New Cartridge Not Working
- Low Ink Error
- Printer Hardware Trouble
You can read on to find the solutions elaborated below and solve any of these issues by yourself.
Get Your Printer Printing Again
As mentioned before, there can be a number of simple reasons why your printer is behaving like a total tool (no puns intended) and testing your patience. Concisely, there are a few ways you can fix common printer problems:
- Basic Troubleshooting
- Driver Update
- Clean Up Queue
- Choose as Default Printer
- Check Printer Status
It is recommended that check off the basic troubleshooting part before you move on to the advanced technology as most cases can be solved with the former.
1. Basic Troubleshooting
A number of times your printer won’t print anything because it is not properly connected to the power source or the computer. This seems obvious, but the first thing to do when you face an issue with printing is to go through the following steps:
Step 1: Check the cables running from the wall to your printer and make sure they are snug. Most times, printers indicate that they are powered on through a blinking/steady light.
Step 2: Check the USB cable which runs between your computer and your printer. Make sure the USB port is operational and the cable is connected properly.
If the printer is connected to the computer through a wireless network, check the network connection.
Step 3: Try printing a document after fixing any loose connection issues if present.
Step 4: If the printer still doesn’t print, grab a USB cable and connect the printer to the computer.
Step 5: Switch off the printer, unplug the power cable and wait for a couple of minutes.
Step 6: While waiting, shut down the computer.
Step 7: Turn everything back on again and test print a document.
Move on to the next possible solution if this doesn’t work.
2. Driver Update
An outdated printer driver won’t be successfully conveying information between your printer and the computer. This is quite a common occurrence and should sort out.
You can manually update your driver or uninstall and reinstall your printer driver to see whether that fixes the issue. If you have a HP printer and running Windows 10, you can follow these steps to update your printer driver:
Step 1: Press and hold the Start button (Windows logo key) and select Device Manager.
Step 2: Open Printers and Right Click on your printer.
Step 3: From the drop-down list, select Update Driver.
Any updates available for the printer driver firmware should be automatically downloaded and installed. You can visit the manufacturer site to download and install updates for your printer driver as well.
3. Clean Up Queue
After your print job is done, the printer queue works automatically to clear itself. But more often than not, print jobs are put on hold, failed print requests get stuck in the queue or the same print requests sent multiple times load up the queue.
It is like an ugly traffic jam on the pathway between your printer and your computer. So, how to you unload it? Here’s how:
Step 1: Completely turn off your printer after saving the document you want to print.
Step 2: Search Services in your search toolbar and open Windows Services.
Step 3: Find Print Spooler halfway down the list of Services.
Step 4: Right Click on Print Spooler and select ‘Stop’ to halt any stuck print requests trying to work their way through the bogged queue. Press OK.
Step 5: In the Search box, copy paste or type %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers and select the folder in the search results.
Step 6: Delete all files in the folder.
Step 7: Shut down your computer device properly.
Step 8: Turn on your printer and then turn on your computer.
Try to print the document that you had saved and see if it works.
(These steps are specifically for HP printers paired with Windows computer but the general principle of clearing up print queue works for all other printers as well.)
4. Choose as Default Printer
Many times when you find your printer not printing anything, it is because your print requests are going to the void of a ‘virtual’ printer.
To sort this problem, you have to select your printer as the default printer for your system. This is how to go about it:
Step 1: Press Windows logo key and R to open Run dialogue.
Step 2: Type control and hit Enter to go to the Control Panel.
Step 3: Select Devices and Printers and under Printers, Right Click on the correct printer (the one that is connected to your computer system).
Step 4: Select Set as default print from the drop-down list.
Step 5: Right Click again and check if Status is set to ‘Ready’. If not, set Status to Ready.
Step 6: While generating a print request for your document/photo, select the correct printer from the list.
These steps are for HP printers connected to Windows computers but any model of printer you are using can be set as default by following specific steps.
5. Check Printer Status
When you are checking printer status, you are basically going over issues like enough paper in the paper tray, solving paper jam issues, checking the state and health of ink cartridges and toner etc.
Fixing Paper Jams
It is not only enough to take out paper any jammed paper from the paper try. You also have to ensure that there are no bits and pieces stuck anywhere on the roller.
To do this you need to check inside the flaps. On the backside of the printer, or under it, you might find access to the paper feed mechanism.
Consult your printer manual or online videos for your specific printer model to learn how to access the roller and clean it.
Replace or Re-Insert Cartridges
Your ink levels might be running low and your paper comes out clean because you have selected color print while there is no ink or dry ink in the color cartridges. Or the print-heads are clogged and as a result print requests cannot be carried out.
If you have a laser printer and you see that ink is running low, you can take out the cartridge and gently shake it from side to side. Insert it back again properly and test print a document to see if it works.
In case you have had alerts saying that ink is running low, you might have run out of ink completely and that is why the printer won’t print anything. In that case, you have to replace the old cartridges with new ones.
HP offers a troubleshooter that you can download and install to automatically troubleshoot your printer. Canon offers lots of comprehensive videos on YouTube that you can access according to your requirements.
If you cannot get your printer printing again by yourself, you can contact the customer support offered by your printer manufacturer.
- Fix Printer Problems: Common printer problems and their solutions
- How to Setup HP Printer on Windows Computer?
- Adding a Printer on Mac (Automatic and Manual Process)