Tricks for dealing with problem printers

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 7/13/20

Printers are one of the common pain points for most of our customers. Sometimes printers refuse to print at all or they spit out illegible prints. Replacing the ink can also be expensive and annoying. Nevertheless, you probably want a working printer, and here I share some advice that will hopefully help with that now or in the future:

If your printer stopped working recently, it might be due to update: One of Microsoft’s typical Windows 10 updates (released on June 9) inadvertently caused printing issues. Later Microsoft did release an optional update that should fix the printer issue. However, the update is based upon which Windows 10 version and edition you have and must be manually downloaded and applied. So, I suggest contacting a computer tech for help if you think your printer was affected by this widespread issue.

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.

Use the power button to turn the printer completely off and then back on or simply unplug the power cord for a couple of seconds. If that doesn’t get things working, restart your computer.

Sometimes the communication between the computer or device and the printer gets interrupted and restarting one or both devices may revive the connection.

Be aware of the print queue: If you’ve tried to print a couple times and the printer isn’t working, keep in mind that the documents (even if duplicates) may be saved in the print queue and all start printing when the issue is fixed. So, be sure to know where the cancel button is on the printer so you can spot printer jobs. To get rid of many print jobs, bring up the print queue via the Control Panel or Settings app and you can delete duplicate or old print jobs hopefully before they start printing.

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 who 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 inkjet 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 powder type of ink that doesn’t dry up, so laser printers are also great for those who don’t print often.

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