Here are a variety of printer problems and their solutions to make your printing life easier.
If nothing has changed on your printer or in your printer settings on your computer but your printer does not work then chances are that the problem is quite straightforward.
First check to see of the printer is on, especially if the trouble occurs first thing in the morning. Perhaps you or someone else turn the printer off when you finished your work the last time you sat down at you desk.
Check the printer status lights or status LCD screen. If there’s a flashing light or if the status screen shows an error, then it’s your first clue to a problem. Most printer manuals have a diagnosis process for alerts.
Chances are if the printer status is not normal, the fix is easy. Most common problems are related to paper or toner.
Check to see if the paper tray is empty. If so refill it. Make sure to feather the pages to eliminate static. Hold the pages in one had and flip through the pages at a fast rate with your thumb.
If the paper tray is not empty check for a misfeed. A sheet may have been caught in the mechanism. There may be a variety of printer access doors to check. Pull out any remnants. Even the smallest piece of paper could be causing the problem so check carefully. Tweezers are handy for this procedure.
If the problem is toner-related, check to see if the toner cartridge is empty or low. The printer warning should indicate this. Swap it for a new one and the unit should work.
The toner drum on laser printers also needs to be replaced usually once a year depending on the volume of printing the device handles. The printer’s error lights should indicate this if it is a problem. Print-outs will become fuzzy or faded when this starts to go.
If all the physical hardware on the printer seems to be fine check to see that it is connected to your computer. Personal printers connect via either a parallel or USB (universal serial bus) connector. If the connector is at the rear of your computer follow the cable from the back of the printer to the back of the computer to make sure the connection is good.
If the printer is connected by what looks like an oversized telephone cable or coaxial cable (like the cable for cable television) then your printer is connected through a network. If this is the case the problem gets suddenly complicated. If your network based printer is acting up for everyone in the office then you’ll need to call in your resident network expert. You probably have a print server, hub or cable problem. If it’s just you that’s having a problem with your network printer, make sure that your computer is connected to the network.
If the printer works but spews strange characters or it appears as if the PC and printer creates error, it likely that you have a printer driver problem. When a printer acts up and there is no hardware problem, the solution is often driver-related. A driver is a piece of software that allows a computer to “talk” to a printer. It’s a kind of translator.
Occasionally if a printer has worked previously, but won’t work with a newly installed program, there could be driver problems.
To remedy this, download a driver from the printer maker’s Web site, remove the old driver and install the new driver. Drivers are normally available under the “support” area of a Web site.
If you have an inkjet printer and you get smudged or blurry images, you might want to look up the utility on the printer that cleans and or aligns the printer heads. Most inkjet printers either have software that can start this process or have a setting on the printer itself that can kick start it.
If all of these solutions fail, you might want to search the manufacturer’s support area for printer issues. Often there will be bulletins issued on how to fix newly discovered bugs.
If you get have a scanner and printer and experience printing problems take heart, this is easily solvable. Detach both devices and remove the software and drivers for both devices. Then reinstall the printer first and then add the scanner second.