Fix common printer issues, including paper jams, streaks, and low ink. Use the printer's control panel.
- [Narrator] A printer is really its own computer, along with its own software, operating system and hardware. It's just that unlike a computer, the printer does only one thing, put ink on paper. Whether the printer is directly attached to your computer or available over a network, its job is to create hardcopy, or information on a sheet of paper that resembles something you created on the PC. When things don't work well, well that's when you troubleshoot. Common printer issues include paper jams, ink issues, weird printing and no printing.
General approaches are available to remedy these issues. If your printer features a control panel, use it. Some printers have software you use in Windows from which you can control the printer. Either way, become familiar with the printer's control panel or software program. For general printer troubleshooting, ensure that your printer is connected, either directly to the PC using a USB cable, or connected to a network that the PC can access. The network connection can be wired or wireless. So if the network's down, then you can't print, but you also can't get on the internet, so you probably noticed that issue first.
Another movie covers network troubleshooting. Ensure that the connections are firm. Ensure that the cables aren't damaged. Check to confirm that the printer is on. Further, some printers must be selected or placed online. If the printer control panel or status lamp indicates that the printer is deselected or offline, reset it online. The control panel may also show that the printer is out of paper, low on ink or some other issue that needs attention, such as a paper jam.
Resolving a paper jam involves discovering exactly where the paper is stuck. I've seen Smart Printers that'll tell you exactly where the jam occurred, and even show a graphic tutorial on how to unstick the paper. If you don't know where the paper is stuck, start with the paper tray. Ensure that it's full, and that the paper is set properly. Remove the paper tray, and reach inside to see if you can grab the paper and try to drag it out. You might want to turn off the printer first, so that the gears don't engage while you're poking around.
If you can open the printer, do so. Look for the stuck paper, and try to tug it free. Also, avoid using thick or overly thin paper stock, which the printer's feeding mechanism may not deal with properly. Low ink warnings may appear on the printer's control panel with an err indicator lamp, or even in Windows as a notification popup. For inkjet printers, the cartridge must be replaced. Properly eject the cartridge per the directions you find right inside the printer. No, you probably won't get ink on your hands, but I use rubber gloves just to be safe.
And then I place the used cartridge into a Ziploc-type of baggie. Insert the replacement ink cartridge per the directions shown inside the printer. For a laser printer, you can generally squeeze out a few more pages if you gently rock the toner cartridge left and right. This trick works only once, and I would recommend that you purchase another toner cartridge immediately, because you don't know how long the trick will postpone the inevitable. Rocking the cartridge might also remedy streaks on the page, though these are generally a sign of low or no ink.
If you see off-tone colors on printed material, it may indicate that one or more color cartridges are low. Replacing the cartridge is the only way to fix the problem. Spots or blotches on the paper might indicate that the ink cartridges need cleaning. Many inkjet printers feature a cleaning routine you can initiate, either through the printer's control panel or by using the printer's software installed in Windows. As a final resort, you can restart the printer. I did this a few days ago when my printer was acting stubborn and slow.
Turn it off, wait, then turn on the printer. Try printing again, and perhaps the issue has been resolved. If not, you'll need to try software solutions which are covered in another movie.
- Diagnosing the causes of PC issues
- Troubleshooting hardware and software
- Performing startup and system restore steps
- Accessing the Task Manager
- Using the Registry Editor
- Fixing Windows
- Checking and freeing storage
- Fixing common printer issues
- Troubleshooting audio
- Restoring network connectivity