Do you have printer problems? Try using the troubleshooting guide below to find out why your printer is not printing.

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Printer Problems Troubleshooting Guide

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This article is part of the Printer and Printing Troubleshooting Guide.

This article deals with printer problems.

Important
What kind of printer problem are you currently having? If your paper feeding mechanism is working (i.e. paper is coming out when trying to print), skip this article and go directly to our print quality problems article instead. 

Luckily, quite many printer problems are generic and can be solved independent of printer brand and model by going through a step by step analysis. Please go through the questions below and correct any problem that you find.

Before reading the troubleshooting guide:
1. Restart your computer followed by a restart of your printer (the latter resets the printer software).
2. Print a test page
3. Can't find your printer manual? Do a printer manual search!

Printer Problems Questions


» Have you made any recent changes to the printer?
» Do you have a power failure?
» Do you have a printer cable failure?
» Does the indicator lamp indicate a problem?
» Are you printing to the correct printer?
» Is the printhead obstructed in its movement?
» Are you out of paper or do you have a paper jam?
» Are your ink or toner cartridges empty?
» Is your printer connected to a network?
» Have you checked the printer queue?
» If nothing helped so far, get help from others!


Have you made any recent changes to the printer?

Have you made any changes recently on your printer or in the printer’s settings? If this is the case, please try to reverse what you have done before continuing since this might easily solve your current problem.

Do you have a power failure?

Have you checked that your printer problem is not due to a power failure? A printer that is switched on normally have a green indicator light lit. If the light is not green, check that your power button is set to on, that you have electricity in your wall outlet and that the power cable is connected at both ends. When power is applied, you should be able to hear the printing mechanism move inside or the printer should start to "hum".

If above is checked and the printer still not seems to indicate that it is switched on, it could be that your printer has a serious problem and you need to contact your printer maker. First of all, check the instructions that are given for this error in the printer manual before proceeding contacting your printer manufacturer.

Links to most printer manufacturers can be found on our printer manufacturer list. It's worth the effort to visit your printer makers website since your printing problem might be model specific. Some printer makers have their own printer troubleshooting forums or Q&A guides where you can find answers to the most common printer problems.

Do you have a printer cable failure?

The printer will not be printing if its not connected to the computer. Check that the printer cable connecting your printer to the computer is firmly attached at both ends. Apart from this cable, there should be one more cable which is the one connecting to the wall outlet.

Does the indicator lamp indicate a problem?

Is your printer indicator lamp lit in another color than green (orange or red for example) or is your indicator lamp blinking?

Check your printer manual for indications on what the color/blinking might mean. Every printer model have its own set of alerts which mean that you need to find your printer manual to understand what your specific printer problems are.

Are you printing to the correct printer?

Make sure that you are printing to the printer you think you are doing.

It could be that the printer is not printing if the default printer has changed or if you are trying to print to a virtual printer e.g. a PDF printer.

To check and change the current settings for the default printer:

Assuming that you are using Windows XP:
1. Go to the start bar.
2. Click on the control panel and choose Printers and Faxes.
3. A window opens up with icons for all available printers, right-click the icon for the printer that you want to use as the default printer.
4. On the menu that pops-up, look for the setting "Set as Default" or "Set as Default Printer". If it is checked, this printer is already set as the default printer otherwise click the selection to set the printer as the default printer.

Assuming that you are using Windows Vista:
1. Go to the start bar.
2. Click on the control panel and choose Hardware and Sound and clicking on Printers.
3. A window opens up with icons for all available printers, right-click the icon for the printer that you want to use as the default printer.
4. Right click the printer you want to set and mark it as the default printer if it's not already marked as such.

Is the printhead obstructed in its movement?

The printhead needs to be able to move freely. Open the cover on the printer and check that no paper is hindering the movement of the printhead.

If your printer is newly bought and unpacked, check that no tape is attached causing your printer problems by hindering the printhead movement.

Are you out of paper or do you have a paper jam?

Make sure your paper tray is not empty, nearly empty or jammed full. All these conditions might cause your printer problems since the paper feeding mechanism will not operate.

Do you have the correct paper size in the correct paper tray? Check your printer manual for the correct ranges of thickness and paper size.

If you print in a humid environment, your paper may be damp. This can obstruct the paper movement mechanism jamming the paper in the printer.

The rollers feeding the paper through the printer might be worn down. Note that changing rollers can be easy to do on some printer models while very hard to on others.

A paper sheet might jam the printing mechanism causing the printer to not run. If you have paper in the printer mechanism this needs to be manually removed before the printer can print again. Please note that you might need to open many access doors on the printer to verify that no paper is stuck. Always pull the paper in the direction of the paper path, if you pull the paper backwards you might damage the printer.

Are your ink or toner cartridges empty?

Ink cartridge or toner cartridge related printer problems should normally be detected by the printer which then should indicate this with a blinking or non green lit indicator lamp.

If this is the case, exchange the empty cartridge with a new one and you should be up and running again. You can find new printer cartridges that fit your printer model in our ink & toner search.

Is your printer connected to a network?

Is your printer connected directly to your computer or to a network? If it is connected to a network, check with your network administrator that the network connection and the network settings are in order. The network indicator lamp on your printer (next to the network socket) should normally be blinking in green.

If the printer is not printing, have you checked that you actually are standing and waiting for paper to come out from the correct printer? It is not to uncommon for people to go to Printer A while they are in fact printing to Printer B.

Have you checked the printer queue?

Check that the printer queue is not stuck causing you the printer problems. If you use the Windows operating system, go to start menu and click on your printer and faxes icon in the control panel. Double click on the printer in question and try to remove all documents from the printer queue before trying to print again.

If nothing helped so far, get help from others!

Continue reading our Printer and Printing Troubleshooting Guide to learn how to get help from others.

If you run Windows XP, you might be interested in reading the Advanced printer troubleshooting in Windows XP article.

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