Printer problems always appear at the worst time. We’re going to show you a few ways to get your printer back up and running if you’re printing from your PC, phone or tablet.

Printers are great when they work, but when they don’t it can be extremely frustrating. Here’s how to solve some of the most common problems, including not printing at all through to blocked nozzles and other issues.

Printers can run reliably for many years and thousands of prints, but they can also malfunction or stop working entirely.

Sometimes the reason is as simple as over- or under use. Many people don’t use their inkjet printers often enough and this can lead to problems with dried-up ink blocking the nozzles. Overuse is less common than misuse: paper clips, hair bands and even food can fall into printers and cause paper jams (and worse). 

If your printer can’t be fixed with these tips, check out our list of the best printers to buy.

My printer won’t print

There are many reasons why your printer won’t print, so start with the basics such as checking to see whether there is an error message or warning light on the printer. Make sure there is paper in the tray(s), check the ink or toner cartridges aren’t empty, the USB cable is plugged in or the printer is connected to Wi-Fi.

And if it is a network or wireless printer, try using a USB cable instead. In our experience, some Wi-Fi printers are unreliable in terms of their connection. So it’s worth unplugging your printer and any powerline network adapters it’s connected to, then turning everything back on again.

Choose the right printer!

Sometimes the reason a printer won’t print is because you’ve installed some software which has a ‘virtual’ printer and this has set itself as the default. When you hit Print, a file will be saved by this virtual printer instead of the document being sent to your physical printer.

To check this, open the Control Panel from the Start menu. Then go to Devices and Printers, right-click the correct printer to use and set it as the default. (While you’re there, you can also ensure the printer’s status is set to Ready. If not, this could be the source of the problem.)

Next, make sure that the correct printer is selected in the program you are printing from – you should see an option to choose from a list as in the image below.

Solve common printing problems: default printer

Microsoft has a printing troubleshooter that can help to identify problems. Click the Fix it button, download and run the program, then follow the steps in the wizard.

You can also open the Control Panel, Devices and Printers, right click the printer icon and select Troubleshoot. It doesn’t always help, but it’s worth trying.

HP has a Print and Scan Doctor to identify problems, and Canon has lots of great videos on its website – click your printer model and then click the Troubleshooting videos link.

Why can’t I print from my phone or tablet?

To print from an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, the printer must have Wi-Fi and also support AirPrint. The list of AirPrint printers is growing, but there are still a lot of printers, particularly older models, that don’t support it.

If you have a Mac with a printer attached, you can turn it into an AirPrint printer using HandyPrintPrinter Pro is an app for iOS devices that enables them to print to many wireless printers or a wired one attached to a PC or Mac.

Some Samsung phones, tablets and printers are designed to work together and printing is straightforward. Samsung also has its own app for printing to its printers, including from iPhones.

To print from any Android phone or tablet to any PC-connected printer you can use Google Cloud Print.

HP has a Print and Scan Doctor to identify problems, and Canon has lots of great videos on its website – click your printer model and then click the Troubleshooting videos link.

Why can’t I print from my phone or tablet?

To print from an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, the printer must have Wi-Fi and also support AirPrint. The list of AirPrint printers is growing, but there are still a lot of printers, particularly older models, that don’t support it.

If you have a Mac with a printer attached, you can turn it into an AirPrint printer using HandyPrintPrinter Pro is an app for iOS devices that enables them to print to many wireless printers or a wired one attached to a PC or Mac.

Some Samsung phones, tablets and printers are designed to work together and printing is straightforward. Samsung also has its own app for printing to its printers, including from iPhones.

To print from any Android phone or tablet to any PC-connected printer you can use Google Cloud Print.

3 Replies to “How to fix printer problems”

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