Tips and tricks for staying ahead of printer issues

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 9/23/19

As you may know all too well, printers can be frustrating. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. They can jam, print weird colors, and run out of ink at the wrong times. But here I share some tips and tricks to help with some of the most common issues I see with our customers: Make sure you select the correct printer: If printing isn’t working, carefully look at which printer is selected when trying to print. In addition to real printers, Windows typically has other print options (such as Print to PDF or faxing) that are listed as printers.

Sometimes those other printers can be automatically or accidentally chosen.

Try a reboot of the printer and computer: If you can’t print at all, like with many other computer and tech issues, first try a reboot: turn the printer off and back on with the power button or simply unplug the power cord for a couple seconds.

If that doesn’t get things working, restart your computer. Sometimes the communication between the computer or device and the printer gets stopped and restarting one or both devices may revive the connection.

Be aware of the print queue: If you’ve tried to print a couple of times and the printer isn’t working, keep in mind that the documents (even if the same) may be saved in the print queue and will start printing when the issue is fixed. So, be sure to know where the cancel button is on the printer or bring up the queue via the Control Panel or Settings app.

Use a USB cable connection: If your printer has not wanted to print multiple different times from a computer, see if there’s a USB cable between your printer and computer. If not, it likely means your printer was set up on Wi-Fi so the computer can wirelessly print. However, sometimes the Wi-Fi connection is unreliable. So, if your printer and computer are within close distance, try connecting a USB cable between the two for a more reliable connection. Most printers don’t come with this cable, so you may have to purchase one.

You can try this yourself, but keep in mind that the computer usually treats the two different connections methods (Wi-Fi and USB) as two different printers, so after you connect the USB cable you want to be sure to use that printer in Windows, and not keep printing over the Wi-Fi printer option. If you need help, I suggest contacting a computer tech.

Don’t let the ink dry: This is a complaint I hear often and is so frustrating: someone that rarely prints goes to print and nothing is on the paper.

The ink can dry up, so I suggest printing a few pages at least monthly, and ideally weekly. If you do think the ink has dried up, you can go into the printer settings and usually find some maintenance options that can possibly help, such as a nozzle check and cleaning.

Look at getting a laser printer: Most households buy the ink-jet printers, which cost less in the beginning and have liquid ink cartridges. Laser printers cost more in the beginning but typically are more reliable, faster, and cost less to operate in the long-run. Laser printers use toner cartridges instead of liquid ink.

Toner is a powdered type of ink that doesn’t dry up, so laser printers are also great for those that don’t print often.

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