5 Minute HelpDesk – Why Won’t My Printer Print?

Welcome to another 5-minute help desk brought to you by Computing Australia for  IT support in Perth.

It happens to most of us. You shoot off a document to the printer and turn to see the printer silent. In our latest 5-minute help desk post, we tell you what to do when you are faced with a printer that refuses to print. Hint – it doesn’t involve a hammer!

Check the connection

Let’s get to the basics first. Check if the printer cable is plugged in securely at both ends. You might be surprised by how frequently an unplugged cable is a culprit.
If the printer uses Wi-Fi, ensure there is good connectivity, and the device is within range. You can try plugging in with a USB to check whether the problem is with the printer or the Wi-Fi.
Restart your computer and printer. Yes, technology can be weird that way sometimes. Sometimes all you need is a simple restart.

Ensure the printer is added

If you are using a new printer, ensure that it is added to the list of available printers. Depending on the Windows version, you can do that in Settings or Control Panel. Go to Printers and Scanners, click on the Add a printer option. Some printers want to install other supporting software but in most cases, trust Windows to do the right thing.

Check if you are using the right printer

If you use multiple printers on your computer, you may have directed the document to print to a different printer. Go to File→Print and choose the right printer from the drop-down list. If you always use the same printer, setting it as the default printer would be a good idea.

Check the printer’s error lights

Once you ensure that the right printer is selected, the error lights on the printer can give a fair idea of the problem. It can be unclear, so check the manufacturer’s manual to understand what the blinking lights indicate. If you can accurately diagnose the issue, you can read this list to find out what to do to set it right.

Clear the paper jam

The printer can still show a ‘paper jam’ message, even after clearing the jam. This can be due to small scraps of torn paper stuck inside. Refer to the manual, open the access panel and clear out the paper. If it gets too mechanical for you, take the help of your IT technician.

Clear the queue

A jammed print queue is a common issue. If earlier prints have failed for some reason, these will be pending in the queue and blocking the current document. Right click on the printer icon in Window’s notification, or in macOS go to Printer & Scanners→Open Print Queue. Clear all the pending documents to print the current document. If you still want to print the pending documents, you need to get the printer spool running. You may need help with that one.

Check the print head and ink cartridges

Sometimes the printer throws up ‘out of ink’ error, even when there is sufficient supply. This can be due to clogged or dirty print head. For laser printers, try shaking the cartridge from side to side and then re-inserting it. Again, the ideal way would be to check the manual on the steps to be followed, as different models will have their specifications.
Always remember to replace or refill cartridges from the authorized sellers to ensure the proper functioning of your printer.

Run the Self-Test

Printers and computers, both can run self-diagnosis and print test pages, which can help you narrow down the issue. Test print from the printer as per the manual. For Windows, go to Devices→Printers & Scanners, select the printer→Manage→Print a Test Page. If the printer tests fine and Windows returns an error, then it’s a software problem. If the printer can’t test print, then the issue will mostly be with the printer.

Sometimes, the issue may be with the software or driver. If you are not reasonably sure of the diagnosis or how to solve it, it is best to take the help of your IT technician. That way, you can ensure you are not doing more harm than good.

If you are looking for IT support companies in Perth – consider Computing Australia. Our IT helpdesk supports you 24/7. Contact us or email at helpdesk@computingaustralia.group for any help with your printer or IT queries.

Computing Australia is a member of The Computing Australia Group of Companies

Today’s Jargon Buster

USB–stands for Universal Serial Bus. It is a cable connecting computers to devices like printers, cameras, external hard disks etc.

Printer Spooler–a Windows application than manages print jobs sent to the printer or printer server. You can think of it as a queue where all the print jobs line up and get printed.