Technology can be a thing of beauty when all systems are go. But when hardware or software do not perform, delays are costly and frustrating. Our strategies are designed to help organizations of all sizes avoid that hassle and expense, partly by helping you to print less. But you still need to print sometimes, so here are the top printing snags and our quick-fix remedies to solve them.
Printers are the perfect finish for a home office, allowing users the convenience and ease of use without having to travel or pay to print documents or photos. Owning a printer has countless benefits, though, like any other technology, printers have a few minor caveats. However, don’t be dismayed because many common printer problems have easy solutions!
1. The Endless Paper Chase
Problem: Printing takes too long
Nothing is worse than making great time with a project only to hit the wall when it comes time to print. Slow print time can be caused by a high resolution setting, a memory issue, and/or choice of drivers.
High-resolution images have more data for your PC and printer to process, which can cause slow print times. If you’re not looking for gallery quality, select draft, standard or normal mode for office documents. For presentations or formal pieces switch your setting back to high-quality. If processing large files with complex images is part of your regular workflow, consider adding memory to keep your printer humming along.
Switch from two-sided to simplex mode. You’ll use more paper but one-sided printing takes considerably less time.
Your driver can determine speed outcome, too. High-end lasers and even some inkjets are available with a choice of drivers including PostScript, PCL and/or the manufacturer’s host-based driver. In general, PCL is best for faster office printing and PostScript is better for graphics intensive applications and industries.
2. The Workflow Logjam
Problem: Paper jams
So you’ve remedied the cause for slow printing only to end up with the King of All Printer Nightmares – the paper jam.
Your User Guide or control panel instructions should walk you through this easily enough. In fact, some Xerox printers provide video assistance and lighted interiors to make jam clearance a snap. Start by inspecting the paper path and remove any jammed material, being careful to take out any stuck paper straight —and above all—not tearing it. If it’s caught between rollers, follow the guide on how to release the pressure.
If it’s a misaligned paper that caused the jam, remove the tray to make sure the paper is positioned correctly and reseat the tray. Sometimes you may find no misfed sheet at all, in which case you’ll need to remove the paper stack, check to see if it’s squared properly and reposition it back in the tray—all after taking a deep breath.
As a rule you should always make sure the type of paper being printed is supported by your printer. And also remember to store your paper where it’s dry to avoid moisture that can make printing difficult.
3. A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words
Problem: Really bad looking prints
Your printer is operating perfectly—but your final product looks terrible. Smudges, poor image quality or faded type make even the best documents look sloppy and unprofessional.
Try these easy fixes for better quality laser printing. If your issues persist, the problem is more likely to be due to supplies or hardware.
- Check your print driver to make sure you have the correct paper or media selected.
- Double check that the paper loaded in the tray matches the type selected in the printer driver.
- In some laser printers, the fuser has an adjustment for paper type. If your printer’s fuser can be adjusted manually, check to see that it’s set properly but be aware: fusers get very hot so exercise caution.
- Check out your toner cartridges, imaging unit(s) and the fuser for damage. These components vary by model and manufacturer so it’s best to refer to the User Guide.
- If you’ve got smudge marks, print several blank sheets of paper and they will eventually fade away.
4. Nothing’s Happening
Problem: My printer isn’t printing
Next to the almighty paper jam, nothing happening also ranks high on the printing problem list.
First, check that you sent the print job to the right printer; you may very well be printing dozens of documents in the next department. To make your main printer your default, click navigate to Printers and Faxes in Windows®. Right-click on your printer icon and select Set as default printer.
Did you check that there’s enough—and the correct kind—of paper in the tray? While you’re at it, make sure your printer is on and that all cables are secure. Both USB- and network-connected computers require that the print driver be installed on the computer you’re printing from. Print drivers with a two-way communication feature can tell you what might be causing your issue via desktop or driver notifications, without making a trip to the printer.
And finally, if your printer just won’t print or your print job seems stuck in the queue, the easiest solution is to restart. Begin by restarting your software application. If that doesn’t work, reboot your computer. Lastly, turn off your printer for a few minutes before switching it back on.
- 5.My printer is printing, but the pages are streaked, blotchy or faded
The quality of the print job depends not only on the printer itself but on the ink or toner cartridge and the drum unit if there is one. The type of paper also influences the print quality, so make sure you have the right type of paper for the type of printing that is being done. If the paper is not an issue, the toner may be the culprit. First, take the toner out and gently rock it from side to side. Don’t shake the toner and be careful not to touch the toner roll because it can leave fingerprints. If you don’t print frequently, sometimes the toner settles and needs to be “activated.” If your printer uses ink instead of toner, it is possible that the ink has dried and needs to be replaced.
- 6.A blank sheet of paper prints after each time I print something
The reason an extra sheet of paper is being printed is because of the print settings. This setting is typically used in offices where the print volume is high and there are multiple users printing. The extra sheet of paper prints out to separate print jobs, but if you are the only one printing this can be really annoying. Thankfully, it is an easy fix! Go to your printer and devices on your computer, click on your printer and then click on printer preferences. You should be able to deselect the separator pages from there.
- 7.Printer connectivity problems
If you have tried the test page and it has printed out fine, but are still having issues you could be dealing with a connection issue. Printers can be connected locally or through a network. Local printers are typically connected by a USB while printers use a parallel cable. If you are using a USB, ensure that the USB cable is connected to both the printer and the computer. Try changing the USB cable if you have another one handy, or use a different USB port if available. If the connection is still not working, then the USB or printer drive could possibly be corrupted. A corrupted USB is a software issue.
Parallel cables are hardly used anymore, but if you are using one then ensure that the cables are connected firmly to both the printer and computer. Unlike USB, the parallel cable either works or does not work.
Troubleshooting printers that are part of a network are more difficult. If you do not have experience with printers or computers, it is advisable to contact a specialist to assist you. If multiple computers / printers are affected, make sure that the connection is properly established. The issues could stem from the router / switch, the wrong IP address, or a misconfiguration. For one of these issues, contact your local IT specialist.
If only one computer is giving you a problem, it is possible that the printer is misconfigured with the computer. You can try to reconfigure it, but if that does not work then the issue may be more complex. Again, an IT specialist would be able to help you!
- Printing only half a page
If only half the page is printing out, many things could be wrong. Unplug the printer, turn off the computer and restart both devices. Once everything is back up and running again, run a self-test page. If the self-test page doesn’t print normally, there may be additional error lights on the printer. You can search the web for what the lights mean and go from there. The problem could be concerning the printer or the toner or drum unit. The error message should explain what the problem is, but if it doesn’t you can always search for the error message online to get an in-depth explanation.