Print Services

Why is My Printer Not Working? | Tech Tips

Learn how to find why your printer isn't working and repair common issues to get your machines back up and running in no time.

Video

5 minute read

Nov 22, 2023

With decades of printing equipment experience, we’ve seen more than our fair share of issues. Whether you’re dealing with hardware or software-related trouble, it can be frustrating to try to figure out why your printer is not printing correctly and how to fix it on your own.

In this video, we'll walk you through some steps to identify and handle some of the most common problems. You can also follow the step-by-step instructions below to solve the problem yourself! 

If you regularly run into printer issues and don’t have an in-house team to fix printing-related problems, outsourcing might be an easy and cost-effective solution! Learn more about ways you can save on printing with Impact’s checklist, 8 Ways to Reduce Printing Costs.

How to Replace Ink Cartridges

If the documents your printer is producing look faded or have poor ink quality, the solution could be simple: replace your ink cartridges.  

To replace your ink cartridges:

  • Step 1: Open your printer’s ink cartridge compartment
  • Step 2: Remove old ink cartridges
    • Pro tip: write down the cartridge manufacturer, model number, and color so you know exactly what you need to replace it with
  • Step 3: Remove any protective strips or tabs on new cartridges
  • Step 4: Drop the new cartridges into the slots and click them into place
  • Step 5: Print a couple of times to make sure everything is working correctly

How to Fix Paper Jams

A paper jam may be the most famous type of printer mishap, seemingly making its way into movies and TV shows. But this printing issue is anything but a star.  

Luckily, we have the steps to solve this problem:

  • Step 1: Turn off and unplug your printer
  • Step 2: Find out where the problem is
    • Check the paper tray
    • Check the paper output area
    • If possible, remove back panels of the machine to check along the paper’s route
  • Step 3: When you find the jam, safely remove it from the machine
  • Step 4: Plug your printer back in and run some test prints to ensure it’s working properly

How to Fix a Blocked Printer Head

A printer head, which is the component of your printer that houses the ink cartridges, can become clogged by dried ink, obstructing the flow of ink from the cartridge. This issue almost immediately ruins the quality of your ink.

To fix this problem:  

  • Step 1: Use a damp paper towel to swab out the dried ink
  • Step 2: If that doesn’t work, you may have to soak the dried ink in a water/alcohol solution to break down bigger chunks
  • Step 3: Make sure the printer head is dry before putting it back in your machine

What to Look Out For: Hardware-Related Issues

There may be a number of reasons your printer isn’t working that are related to its hardware. These can range anywhere from damaged USB cables to lack of routine maintenance.

Let’s see what could be causing your problem:

  • Bad USB cables
    • Check your USB cable for damage, including cuts, dings, or misaligned pieces, and test the cable with other devices to confirm that it is the issue
    • If your cable is the problem, you’ll need a replacement
  • An open paper tray
    • Check that your paper tray is closed
    • Sometimes, your printer may give you a message that the tray is open, even if it’s not. In this case, check that the paper is correctly loaded into the tray since one misplaced sheet can keep the tray from closing, even when it appears to be completely shut
  • Neglecting routine maintenance
    • Clean and align print heads
    • Frequently check ink levels
    • Remove dust, dirt, and debris from the outside and inside of the printer

Remember: frequent cleaning and maintenance of your printers can help you avoid major headaches in the future!

How to Clear Print Job List: Windows & Mac

Thought you were done with print spooler issues? Another way to fix these problems is to clear the current print jobs in order to remove anything that may be causing a stoppage with your printer.

To clear print jobs on Windows:  

  • Step 1: Press the Windows key + R to open the “Run” dialog
  • Step 2: Type in “services.msc” and hit Enter to open the Services window
  • Step 3: In the Services window, find the “Print Spooler” service
  • Step 4: Stop the “Print Spooler” service
  • Step 5: Open File Explorer and navigate to the following directory: C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS
  • Step 6: Delete all files in the PRINTERS folder
  • Step 7: Start the “Print Spooler” service up again

To clear print jobs on Mac:

  • Step 1: Select the Apple menu, then “system preferences”
  • Step 2: Click “printers & scanners”
  • Step 3: Select your printer, then “x” out of the print jobs you want to cancel 

What to Look Out For: Software-Related Issues

We’ve already covered hardware-related issues to look out for with your printer, but being aware of the software-related problems is just as important to figure out why your printer may not be printing correctly.

You should look out for:

  • Outdated or incompatible print drivers
    • Check for driver problems as they can negatively affect how your printer operates
    • Make sure to use the latest drivers from your printer manufacturer’s website
    • If you believe your drivers might have become corrupted, you can re-download from there, too
  • Having the wrong printer connected to your computer
    • Set your printer as the default one for your computer, so print jobs are automatically sent to it
    • This will avoid sending your print jobs to machines on a different floor or in a different building
  • Computer compatibility
    • Check that your printer is compatible with the model of your computer, your chosen operating system (Windows or Mac), and the version of that operating system

How to Run a Troubleshoot: Windows & Mac

If you’re struggling to figure out why your printer isn't working and none of the solutions above worked, troubleshooting on your computer can help locate the cause of the problem. As long as your operating system has the ability to troubleshoot the issue, your computer will be able to run through multiple tests in an attempt to find the snag. 

To run a printer troubleshoot on Windows:

  • Step 1: Go to the control panel
  • Step 2: Navigate to “hardware and sound” and “devices and printers”
  • Step 3: Right-click your printer, then select “troubleshoot”

To run a printer troubleshoot on Mac:

  • Step 1: Press and hold “option”
  • Step 2: Choose Apple menu, then system information
  • Step 3: Select the printer in the hardware list and select “troubleshoot”

Concluding on Why Your Printer Isn't Working

Keeping your fleet of printers running effectively is important for the efficiency of your company. Dealing with paper jams, clogged printer heads, bad cables, or outdated drivers is an annoying hassle that can easily be avoided with the help of Impact’s managed print services, which are designed to help businesses like yours keep its machines up to date, clean, maintained, and working smoothly.

You can start your journey to full printing efficiency by cutting basic print costs you might not even know you have. Download Impact’s checklist, 8 Ways to Reduce Printing Costs, to find out more ways your business can save on printing. 

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