Easy Ways to Fix Common Printer Problems

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Easy Ways to Fix Common Printer Problems

Printer problems always arise at the worst times. Here are some ways to re-enable your printer if you are printing from a PC, phone, or tablet. Printers are great at work, but otherwise can be very frustrating. Printers can run for years and thousands of prints, but they can also malfunction or stop working altogether. Sometimes the reason is as simple as being overused or underused. 

Many people don't use inkjet printers often enough and this can cause problems with dry ink blocking the nozzles. Overuse is less common as misuse of paper clips, hair bands, and even food can fall onto the printer and cause paper jams (and worse). Here's How to Fix the most common Printer Common Problems, including not printing at all to clogged nozzles and other problems.

Printer can not print ?

There are many reasons why your printer won't print, so start with the basics like checking to see if there's an error message or warning light on the printer. Make sure there is paper in the tray, check that the ink or toner cartridge is not empty, the USB cable is plugged in or the printer is connected to Wi-Fi. And if it's a network or wireless printer, try using a USB cable instead. 

In some experiences there are Wi-Fi printers that cannot be relied on in terms of their connection. So it's a good idea to unplug your printer and any powerline network adapter connected to it, then turn everything back on.

Choose the right printer!

Sometimes the reason the printer won't print is because you have installed some software that has a 'virtual' printer and this has set itself as the default. When you press Print, a file will be saved by this virtual printer, not a document sent to your physical printer. 

To check, open Control Panel from the Start menu. Then go to Devices and Printers, right click the correct printer to use and set it as default. Next, make sure that the correct printer is selected in the program you are printing from – you will see an option to choose from a list as in the image below.

Microsoft has a printing troubleshooter that can help identify problems. Click the Repair button, download and run the program, then follow the steps in the wizard. You can also open Control Panel, Devices and Printers, right-click the printer icon and select Troubleshoot. Not always helpful, but worth a try.

Why can't I print from my phone or tablet?

To print from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, the printer must have Wi-Fi and also support AirPrint. The list of AirPrint printers continues to grow, but there are still many printers, especially older models, that don't support it. 

If you have a Mac with a printer installed, you can convert it to an AirPrint printer using HandyPrint. Printer Pro is an app for iOS devices that allows it to print to many wireless or wired printers attached to a PC or Mac. 

Some Samsung phones, tablets and printers are designed to work together and printing is easy. Samsung also has its own app for printing to its printers, including from the iPhone. Install Cloud Print on mobile devices from Google Play Store. 

Next, use Google Chrome on your PC, go to menu, Settings, Advanced Settings and click Manage. You can then add the printer attached to your PC. As long as the PC and printer are turned on, you can print from your Android device.

Is it necessary to replace the cartridge?

The printer warns that the ink is running low before it is completely depleted. If you only print occasionally the remaining ink or toner will last a few more weeks, if not months. Order a new cartridge as soon as it appears, but do not install it until it stops printing or the colors fade. The trick with laser printers is to remove the low cartridge and shake it gently from side to side. This sometimes allows the remaining toner to be used up. 

In other cases, a counter is used and after a certain number of pages have been printed, the cartridge is considered empty. HP has an interesting scheme with many of its printers where you pay per month and the cartridges automatically arrive at the right time. 

If your color ink has run out, but you need to continue printing, you may be able to set your printer to print only in black and white. These are the settings you'll find in the printer properties in Control Panel – or click an option when you go to print via the app you want to use to print.

Why don't web pages, Excel documents, and photos print properly?

  • Web Pages
Web pages can be of any size and are not limited by the width or height of the paper in your printer. They are usually not designed to be printed, which is why problems can occur. Always select the Print Preview option so you can see what you will get. 

It may not require all pages, for example if there are a lot of comments or advertisements, so use the options during print to select which pages to print, such as 2-4 to print pages 2 through 4. Select landscape mode if the web page is very large. 

Most of the time you will find the option shrink into printer settings helpful when your document or photo is too big to fit on the page. Some web pages, such as printable coupons, have a print button within the web page. Use that instead of the print menu in the browser.
  • Office Documents
If you are trying to print an Excel sheet, make sure to select only the cells you need to print before clicking Print. You can then select 'Print options' and change other options to make sure they fit on the A4 sheet. You can do other things, like reduce the size of the margins, and switch from landscape to portrait orientation. 

Similarly, when printing Word or other documents, you can usually specify which pages to print so you don't have to print them all.

Office Documents

  • Photos and pictures
For photos or images that you want to print, it's usually best to right-click in Windows Explorer and click Print. This way you will be able to choose how large to print each photo. 

If you select multiple photos in one folder, then right-click and select Print, you'll be able to print them all at once, with more than one photo per sheet (and you can also choose a paper size here). This is similar to the 'n-up' option you will find in the Printing properties which allows you to print multiple pages of a document on a single A4 sheet.

Why does the printer display “Error”?

There are several possible reasons, but the most common are paper related. The first thing to check is if the input tray is empty, but it's also a good idea to check for paper jams. If you find one, try to figure out why it happened instead of just removing a crumpled sheet of paper from the paper tray and assuming you have fixed it. 

Remove the paper from the tray, open all the lids and look inside. You may need a torch to see through the paper and a long pair of tongs to reach it, especially if only a very small part has been torn off and is left inside.

Look under the printer as there may be a removable access panel to check and clean the paper-feed mechanism. Scrap paper can absorb moisture, which makes it sticky and is then pulled through two or more sheets at once. Keep in the bag until needed. Check out Canon's troubleshooting video to see how to remove bits of paper stuck in the printer. 

Also, try using thinner paper: most home printers will only handle photo paper optimally. They usually can't print on cards because they're too stiff to feed into corners.

Why is the print quality bad?

The nozzles on the inkjet printer head can become clogged causing horizontal streaks on prints and poor or incorrect colors. Cleaning the printheads can solve the problem. The procedure varies from printer to printer and there may be options on the printer control panel or in the printer software on the computer. you may need to look for this in the manual. 

In your printer properties (either in the application or in the Windows Control Panel), you may find the maintenance section. Click and you can clean the print head or align it.

Print Results

Paper type affects print quality and copy paper may disappoint you. It can be too absorbent and the inkjet ink seeps into it like blotting paper. Buy good quality paper for the best prints, and this is usually from the printer manufacturer itself, especially for printing photos. 

Laser printers don't rely too much on paper, and a smudge or speck in the same place on every page usually means there's dirt somewhere on the printer, usually on the 'drum'. Be careful when cleaning the imaging drum, only use isopropyl alcohol and a soft, lint-free cloth. Hopefully the information on How to Fix Common Printer Problems can be useful, good luck!

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