When it’s working as it’s supposed to, technology can make your life much easier. But when it decides to malfunction, it can instantly become a major headache. Printers are no exception. Whether at home or in the office, you count on your printer’s ability to produce crisp, neat documents and pictures when you need them. The last thing you need before that big meeting is to find your reports aren’t printing or important data is getting cut off.
If you find yourself with printer trouble, don’t panic. Here’s a guide to the most common printer problems and easy solutions to help you get back to business.
Your printer isn’t responding
You keep hitting print, but nothing is happening. Or maybe you get an error message telling you the printer is offline or unresponsive. This can be one of the most frustrating problems to try to solve, especially if your computer or printer isn’t giving you any clear indication of why it isn’t working. Fortunately, it can also be relatively simple to fix. There are several easy-to-perform solutions that you can try to get your document to print.
How to fix it:
The first solution—as obvious as it may sound—is to make sure your printer is turned on and plugged in. A plug may have been accidentally knocked loose, or the printer might have turned itself off due to inactivity. If your printer uses a wired connection to your computer, make sure that all cables are properly connected. If you’re relying on wireless printing, make sure that your WiFi is turned on and that both your computer and printer are connected to the same network. If this is your first time printing to this specific printer from a specific computer, make sure you have downloaded the correct printer driver and software. It is possible that the driver may become corrupted. In this case, you will need to re-download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website. If all else fails, try turning the printer off and back on again, then follow the troubleshooting guide found in your printer’s User Manual if the issue has still not been resolved.
Your paper keeps jamming
Paper jams can not only slow down your printing job, but they can waste resources by damaging paper, rendering certain prints unusable. The most recent printer models are less prone to paper jams than older versions, but jams can still happen if the paper isn’t aligned properly or if the wrong paper is used.
How to fix it:
The first thing to do if your printer jams is to remove the paper from the paper tray and clear any stuck paper. Also, check to make sure there are no other foreign objects lodged anywhere in the machine. When replacing the paper in the feeder tray, square off the stack of paper and make sure it aligns with the guides on the tray. If you are using paper smaller than standard legal or letter-sized sheets, make sure the guides are adjusted accordingly. Otherwise, the sheet won’t go straight through the center of the rollers and can get caught. Also, make sure you’re not overfilling the tray. Too much paper in the tray can cause the paper to stick together, which causes the rollers to pull more than one sheet at a time. If you use paper that is heavier than your printer is designed to handle, it could also become stuck. Never mix different weights or types of paper in the input tray. If you’re using a heavier paper like cardstock, you might want to consider feeding it through sheet by sheet.
Your printer is slow (especially over WiFi)
Print speed is heavily influenced by your settings. In general, higher-quality prints will take longer than low-quality prints. If you are printing wirelessly, your print speed depends on how fast and secure your network is. If you feel like you are waiting forever for your jobs to finish printing, there are a few ways you may be able to boost your printing speed a few ways.
How to fix it:
If your printer is working slowly over WiFi, the first thing you can do is try moving your router closer to your printer. Make sure your router’s firmware is up to date and can support 802.11n and offer both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz. You can also try to use a wireless extender or a repeater. You can also adjust your printer settings. Unless you need high-quality prints for a presentation, try lowering your print quality in settings if you want faster printing. Single-sided printing is generally quicker than duplex printing because the printer doesn’t have to spend time flipping the paper over.
Your multifunction printer stops scanning
In an office, you can save a lot of space and money with an all-in-one machine that handles scanning, copying, and printing. If your device stops scanning, it can make maintaining proper documentation and sending clients and vendors files difficult or impossible.
How to fix it:
Your multifunction printer communicates with your computer via software. It is possible for your scanner software to become corrupted and prevent you from scanning documents. The simplest solution is to reinstall the printer’s software package. If that doesn’t work, check the user manual or the manufacturer’s support page. Investing in a good MFP from the start can help save you the cost of having to replace your unit if it fails.
Your prints don’t look good
Maybe you have no problems getting your printer to print documents, but the prints don’t meet your expectations. Text or images might look slightly smudged or pixelated, or the colors are too faded or just wrong. The issue may be with your paper quality, print settings, or ink/toner.
How to fix it:
If your prints look desaturated, your first instinct might be to replace the ink or toner cartridge. However, if you’re not getting low ink or toner warnings when you go to print, this might not be necessary. Sometimes, the powder in a laser toner cartridge may settle. You can fix this by removing the cartridge and shaking it side to side several times. If you are using an inkjet printer, you can run a nozzle cleaning and print head alignment from your printer’s maintenance menu. Sometimes, ink cartridges can dry out even before they are empty, in which case they will need to be replaced. If the colors are correctly saturated but just “off,” it might be that only one color of toner or ink has settled, dried out, become clogged, or run out.
Ensure that you are using the correct paper and that your printer’s settings match the paper you are using. If you are printing on coated photo paper, plain paper settings will produce low-quality results. Having your printer set to print on a different size of paper than you are using can also distort images. Printer settings often allow you to adjust the quality of your print job. While printing draft quality takes less time, the results will be noticeably lower quality. If you are printing for an important presentation or any other job where you need the final product to look crisp and professional, leave yourself extra time to print in presentation mode.
It’s costing you too much to print
If your office—or even your home—does a large volume of printing regularly, you might feel like you’re spending a fortune on paper and ink or toner. You can save some money by printing less where you can, but there are also some ways to minimize the resources you use when printing.