Printer Trouble Shooting #2


The printer attached to your computer rarely, if ever, requires maintenance except for clearing an occasional paper jam or replacing the paper and ink cartridges. For an electro-mechanical device that’s fairly amazing. However, a printer can stop in the middle of printing, print strange characters or produce unwanted multiple blank sheets of paper. So, what to do? If the printer is producing multiple sheets of paper and is more or less out of control, turn off the power to the printer. This stops the problem momentarily. Now, let’s address the source of the problem. On the Desktop screen click the Start button, click the Control Panel, and click Printers & Faxes or Devices & Printers. In the window that opens, you should see an icon for your printer model. Double click the icon. For Windows XP a window will open with the model of your printer displayed at the top of the window. For Windows 7 click “See what’s printing”. Displayed in the window are any documents waiting to be printed or are currently “printing”. In the top menu, click on “Printer” and another sub-menu window appears. Click “Cancel all Documents”, and then answer Yes to confirm and close the window. This will remove all pending print jobs from being printed and clear the printer queue for future printing. Wait 20 – 30 seconds for the task to complete. You can confirm this by watching the printer icon in lower right corner of the screen disappear. Shut down the computer, turn the printer back on, restart the computer, and reprint your document.


Some printers exhibit a problem in which it fails to print anything from the computer. You can test the printer by doing the following: Right click your printer’s icon, left click Properties or Printer Properties, and click “Print Test Page”. This should print a single page of documentation, along with red, green, yellow, and blue colors in the flying Microsoft Windows flag. This procedure tests only the printer, the printer software, and the Windows operating system. Not included in this test are any programs that utilize the printer. To see if your program is properly “connected” to your printer, open your program, hold down the Ctrl key and press the “P” key. This should display the Print window with your printer shown in the Name: field. If it doesn’t show your printer, select it by clicking the down arrow to the right of the field. If you make a change, then OK the window.


If the non-printing problem continues check the USB cable connection between the printer and the computer. You can also try to unplug the cable momentarily from either the computer or the printer and plug it back in. This forces the USB printer circuitry to reinitialize the connection. If the problem continues, power down the printer and the computer. Turn the power back on to the printer, allow it initialize, and then turn on the computer.


If printing difficulties remain, it may be necessary to reinstall the printer software. You can also visit your printer manufacturer’s Web site (HP, Dell, etc.) for support information about your model computer and printer.


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