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    Why is my printer not printing?

    Who I am
    Aina Prat Blasi
    @ainapratblasi

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    We have to think of printers as our friends. While they are behaving normally, they start to go out of their way. The printers also behave the same way, they work “pretty well”, but then they stop and error messages start popping up.


    Here is what we will focus on in this article:

    • Basic problems
    • Wired and wireless network printing problems
    • USB printing problems
    • Software updates and printer driver problems
    • Paper jams
    • Ink and toner problems

    Check the basics first

    It's amazing how often the basics are often overlooked. Even when something like power failure occurs. Remember, it's possible to keep working on your laptop and forget the obvious and wonder why the printer isn't showing up on the laptop.



    • Is the printer turned on?
    • Is it connected to the computer?
    • Do you have paper and toner?
    • Is it powered?

    The network printer does not print

    Once the norm was a wired network printer. Now, wireless printers from HP, Epson, Brother and many other manufacturers are very popular. While they provide an easy way to share a printer with multiple devices, such as a computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, they also have a high level of problems when they stop printing.


    If you are setting up a wireless printer and are having trouble printing, try connecting it to the network. If the printer worked in the past, you might want to try these tips:


    • Restart Everything: Wired or wireless network printers rely on your home network, which includes a few different components: the printer, a computer, a router, a wireless access point, and a modem to connect to the Internet. Your network may have additional elements or combine some of the elements together. Regardless of how your network is configured, everything interacts, which means that if one device is blocked, it can affect all the others. Try restarting all devices to reactivate the network.
    • Do not reset a device to its default settings, just reboot. Once the network is backed up, try printing again.
    • Check network printer connectivity: Try printing a sheet directly from the printer. With network printers, this usually includes information on how the printer is connected to the network, including its IP address, a URL to access the administrative page, the type of network connection, and additional information. If necessary, refer to the printer manual for details on how to perform a test print. Once the test sheet is printed, confirm that the printer is connected to the network by checking the IP address; it should be similar to the rest of the addresses on your network.
    • If you see an IP address starting with 169, it is an indication that the printer was unable to connect to your network and is using a self-assigned IP address. Reconfigure the printer's network settings: If you still can't connect the printer to your network, you can try starting over. Turn off the printer, disconnect it from the network, then reinstall the printer following the original instructions in its manual. Make sure you keep track of any printer or network passwords that may need to be created.
    • Reinstall or reconfigure any special network drivers for the printer: Once the printer is able to communicate on the network, you may need to install or configure special network drivers for the printer, such as AirPrint for iOS devices or Cloud Print for Android devices .

    USB printers not working

    Problems with USB-connected printers are a little easier to fix. Remember to start with the obvious. Is the USB cable connected? Are the computer and printer turned on? If so, the printer should be visible on your computer.



    • On a Mac, you can check the preferences pane Printers and scanners (in Apple menu and in System Preferences) to see if the printer is present. If not, you need to install the printer on the Mac.
    • In Windows, you can check the control panel Printers. Depending on what version of Windows you're running, the Control Panel might have slightly different names, but if it has Printers in its name somewhere, you've come to the right place. If you need to install the printer, select the button Add printer and follow the on-screen instructions.
    • Don't see your printer yet? Try disconnecting and reconnecting the USB cable. If that doesn't fix the problem, try removing all other peripherals from the computer and connecting only the printer. If this solves the problem, it is likely that a faulty device is preventing other devices from connecting correctly. You can connect the devices one at a time until you find the culprit.
    • Still blocked? Try another USB cable.

    Common resources for printers

    For more information on your particular printer, we recommend checking with the device manufacturer. A printer manufacturer's site will likely contain instruction manuals, manual drivers, and additional software that can help you use the device. For your convenience, we've provided support links for the most common printers below.


    • Canon
    • HP
    • brother
    • Epson
    • Xerox
    • Lexmark

    The printer stopped working after a system update

    This is one reason why you have to wait a while before installing new operating system updates; let someone else be the guinea pig. If your printer suddenly stops working after a system update, you may need a new printer driver.



    Check with the printer manufacturer and see if new drivers are available, then follow the installation instructions for the drivers.

    If there are no new drivers, please send a note to the manufacturer asking when they will be available. If you find that the printer is no longer supported, you may still be able to make it work. Check if a printer of the same series has updated drivers.


    They will likely work for your printer as well, although you may lose some functionality. If it doesn't work, you have nothing to lose.

    Paper often jams in the printer

    • When clearing jammed paper, be very careful and make sure that any small part of the jammed paper is removed from the printer.
    • If occasional jams occur, a good cleaning should be performed using special paper designed to clean rollers, plates, and other objects in the paper path. You can find these printer cleaning sheets at most office supply stores.

    Problems with ink or toner in the printer

    Ink and toner problems can include streaks and discoloration (usually indicating a dirty printhead) or a toner in a laser printer that is about to run out.

    • For inkjet printers, the printhead is likely to need a good cleaning. The printer utility app that came with the printer includes a cleaning option. There are usually two; a soft clean and a heavy clean. Start with soft cleaning, as cleaning uses a good amount of ink. If the problem persists, try the industrial cleaning option.
    • For laser printers, the likely cause is running out of toner. If you do not have a toner cartridge on hand, you can extend the life of the current cartridge by removing the toner from the printer and slowly tilting the cartridge from side to side. Make sure the cartridge is closed when you do this. With any luck, this will redistribute the toner inside the cartridge and provide you with enough printouts to give you time to find and purchase a replacement cartridge.

    Further Reading:

    • The best wireless printers
    • How to print from android phone
    • How to connect a printer to Wi-Fi
    • The best inkjet printers
    • How to delete print queue
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