Printers are a very common household device and sometimes the printer does not work seemingly out of nowhere. There are many issues you may run into like error messages, stuck print queues, failed print jobs and running out of ink or toner. This guide will provide some tips and tricks on how to troubleshoot a printer.
Manufacturer Support Resources
Printer manufacturers have various resources available for consumers online. From drivers to troubleshooting guides on how to fix your printer, their web resources should be able to provide adequate self-help.
Below will be links to the support pages for various printer manufacturers that Micro Center carries. If you need drivers, a manual or instructions specific to your printer model, refer directly to the manufacturer's website for those resources. You can also call manufacturers directly for support if needed.
Printer Setup Tips and Tricks
Q: How do I set up my printer?
A: While there are different ways a printer can be setup, the basic process is connecting the printer to your computer and installing the drivers. Drivers will either be included on a DVD with the printer or will need to be downloaded from the manufacturer website.
You can connect your printer to your computer directly via a USB cable, or through your network. You can also manually add your printer through Windows 10 in the Control Panel or Settings, but you may still need to download drivers from the manufacturer.
Q: Do I have to use Wi-Fi for my printer?
A: While most printers offer Wi-Fi as the primary way to connect, some printers still offer a direct USB connection to the computer. However, you may need to purchase a printer cable separately as they're not always included in the box. Many printers will also let you plug them directly into your router with an ethernet cable. This way, you can still use it as a network printer without having to set it up wirelessly.
Q: How do I connect my printer to Wi-Fi?
A: Printers use many different methods of connecting to Wi-Fi, so you'll want to check the user manual for your specific model. Most printers will have a Network Setup menu that will allow you to select your network and type in your password. Other printers might require use of a WPS button on the router, or Wi-Fi Direct. Wi-Fi Direct enables the printer to create its own network to connect to.
Q: My computer isn't detecting my Wi-Fi printer during setup.
A: Double check that your printer successfully connected to your Wi-Fi and restart both the printer and computer. If that doesn't fix it, restart your router and reconnect the printer to Wi-Fi. If necessary, you can manually search for a network printer via the IP address or hostname, which can usually be obtained from the printer itself.
Q: My computer isn't detecting my USB printer during setup.
A: Restart the computer and the printer, try switching to a different USB port on your computer. Test another USB printer cable if you have one available.
Q: Do I need to install the drivers for the printer?
A: If you just need to print things, it's not necessarily a requirement to download and install the drivers from the manufacturer. If you plug in the printer with a USB cable, your computer will use a basic driver that will allow you to print.
However, if you plan to do any scanning or faxing, you'll need to install the drivers from the manufacturer. If you use a driver disc that came with the printer, make sure you check for an updated driver.
Q: Do I need to remove an old printer before installing a new one?
A: It's not a requirement. Old printer drivers should not interfere with your new printer. However, it may be helpful to remove the old printer drivers so they don't show up in the list anymore.
Q: I'm having issues printing from my computer, what can I do?
A: If you're specifically having issues with printing from a computer, refer to the links below. The steps outlined in these articles can sometimes resolve other issues such as scanning to your computer as well, but are focused primarily around printing.
Microsoft has a pretty extensive guide on printer troubleshooting steps that you can use in Windows 10 on their website here:
Microsoft's Windows 10 Fix Printer Problems Article
Apple also has a guide on their website for Mac systems:
Apple's Printer Troubleshooting Guide for Mac Systems
If you have an HP printer specifically, you can also try running the HP Print and Scan Doctor:
HP Print and Scan Doctor
Resolving Poor Print Quality
Q: The ink on my page is fading, what should I do?
A: The most likely cause is that your ink is starting to run low. You should be able to view current ink levels on your printer through the printer's menu or by opening up the printer software on your computer. If it's low, you'll want to get new cartridges.
Q: I'm getting weird lines/spots on my prints, what should I do?
A: Inkjet printers typically have some built-in functions you can access to clean and align the printer heads or printheads. These are usually located under a maintenance menu or accessible through the printer software on your computer. Double check the manual for your specific printer. If that doesn't help, try pulling out the ink cartridges then putting them back.
Q: My printer is printing pages crooked, what should I do?
A: Inkjet printers have something called an encoder strip which can get ink on it and cause this problem. Opening the printer and wiping it off will usually fix this, check with the manufacturer or online to see exactly how to do this.
Q: What do I do if my printer is printing blank pages?
A: If your printer is capable of it, try copying something to see if it works. If it can copy pages properly, that means it should not be a hardware issue and is likely some type of communication error from the computer. In this case, you should follow the troubleshooting guides linked above. If it cannot copy properly, try resetting the printer, running the maintenance options or replacing your ink cartridges.
Q: How do I fix paper jams?
A: Paper jams are usually resolved by removing the paper that’s stuck in the printer. However, if it’s a frequent problem, it could be an issue with the paper you’re using or the printer itself. Printers use rollers to feed paper in, and if they're dirty it can sometimes cause issues with jamming. Wrinkled paper or a very humid room can also potentially cause jams as well.