Printers Revisited Part 2 – Problems and Solutions

Maybe we came down a bit heavily on the bad news in the last post, when we referred to the many printer issues that can send it to the scrap heap.  The fact is that there are lots of problems that you can sort out by yourself, without having to call in an expert, or trudge to the store for a replacement.

DRIVERS AND SOFTWARE:  If you have a multifunction unit, there will be separate driver software for each function, which of course can result in up to four times the potential for something to be corrupted.  If you have to re-install your software, it is smarter to go to the manufacturer’s website and download the most up-to-date version rather than to use the disk that came with the printer.

THE QUEUE:  When multiple printing jobs are sent to the printer they join a queue and if one of the early jobs is problematic, all of the following ones get Printer 4stuck.  This is compounded by the fact that we all become impatient at times, and when the job doesn’t start promptly after we have clicked on the PRINT button, we will almost certainly click on it again – and again and again.  The result is a stalled queue that is never going to resolve itself.  Follow these steps for the solution:  First, turn off the power switch on your printer, and click Restart on the computer.  When the computer has rebooted, turn the printer back on.  In the meantime, double-check the printer for a paper jam, loose wires, or any other obvious physical problem.  Click ONCE on the button for a simple print job, and you will probably find that thigs have corrected themselves.

PAPER:  When you are reloading paper, don’t just add more to the sheets that are remaining in the tray.  Take that bit out, add it to the new supply, and then load that entire new stack.  Photos will look better when printer on real photo stock.  Humidity can cause paper to mis-feed.   Don’t re-use paper.  Ever.

Printer 3THE NETWORK:  Most printers nowadays can function on your home wifi.  This is very handy if you have more than one device, and especially so if tablets or smartphones have no way to connect physically.  The most common difficulty here is if printers are replaced, or if the wifi password was changed for any reason, including a new router.  Getting your printer back into the loop might be as simple as re-entering the password.  A temporary fallback strategy is to use a USB cable to connect the printer directly to the computer, until the wifi issues can be sorted out.


EXPENSE:  Printer ink is more expensive per drop than Mouton-Rothschild Claret.  There are several ways to ensure that you are getting the most out of this significant investment:  FIRST: set your printer to print black-only by default.  It is a simple matter to adjust that setting if you ever do truly need colour.  SECOND: look carefully at the pages that you are about to print, and designate only those pages that you really need.  Often documents end with a bunch of boilerplate gobbledygook which, in turn, often spills over onto a few lines on the last page.  Save your ink and paper.  THIRD: Run your cartridge-cleaning utility occasionally, so that the ink doesn’t clog the jets.  FOURTH:  Don’t install a replacement the moment your printer warns you the ink is getting low.  You can probably print several more pages before a new cartridge is necessary.  FIFTH:  Always ask yourself if you really need to print at all.  Frequently, you could simply save that content, and refer back to it on the screen – for free.  SIXTH:  Experiment to see if generic cartridges that you can buy online (often at one-third the cost) will work for you.

READ THE MANUAL:  If you have lost your printer manual, you can always look it up at the manufacturer’s website.  Printers, and especially the multifunction units, are highly complex and the manual can show you little shortcuts and conveniences that you might never find on your own.  Furthermore, there is a right way and a wrong way for most functions, and lots of people have wound up buying a new machine simply because they botched a simple thing like installing an ink cartridge correctly.


Think of your printer as that clumsy, bumbling friend who is always trying to be helpful, but who may often need just a bit of TLC.


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