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Quick Fix Guide for Everyday Printer Problems

fixing printer problems

With just an hour until you have to give a major presentation, the office printer isn't cooperating.

Before you fetch a Louisville Slugger and begin "Office Space"ing your company's only MFD, there's a chance that the issue is something easily remedied. Tiny printing problems happen to everybody—it’s the nature of the beast! Fortunately, most of these small snags are easy to fix without the need for expert backup. Let's take a look at some tips to help you tackle some of the most common printing glitches.

Paper Jam

Few events raise one's blood pressure faster in an office setting than a paper jam. Fortunately, most paper jams are nothing to lose composure over.

Step 1: Open the printer and find the trapped paper (check the interface to find where the jam will most likely be).

Step 2: Softly pull the paper out, remembering to keep the paper straight and apply even pressure.

Step 3: Make sure you get the entire piece of paper out, including any rips or tears, before you start it up again. If paper jams persist, make sure that the paper tray is not overfilled and that the sheets of paper are not misshapen or cut incorrectly. After that step, look to see if there aren't any paper fragments or other debris lodged in the device.

Printing Too Slow

If your print jobs are so slow that you're convinced that someone dumped molasses in the paper tray, there are a few reasons why this could be the case. Slow printing can happen for two main reasons: file size and network connection.

Step 1: Check the size of the file you’re trying to print. If the file is too large, reduce the file size or collapse memory-hogging layers. If the file size is okay, try using fast or draft mode. You can also save paper and speed by changing from double-sided to multiple pages-per-sheet.

Step 2: Check the printer's network connection. It may not be the printer at all, but simply the speed by which it communicates with your computer. When all else fails, you can always upgrade to a printer with better memory and processor speed.

Step 3: Check out the print manager. If too many other print jobs are gumming up the system, it may be time to clean out some old jobs. Make sure to check with your staff to make sure this is ok with them.

Not Printing

You made sure the document looked good in Print Preview. You assigned what you believe to be the proper printer. Everything should be fine. Still, there's nothing in the tray. What gives?!

Step 1: To troubleshoot this, check to make sure you’re sending the document to the right device. With very slight variations in some printer names, there's a chance it is printing on some other printer in the building.

Step 2: Once you’ve confirmed your hooked up to the right printer, have a co-worker try printing on the same device, and see if it works for them.

Step 3: If they can't get a document to print either, check the most likely culprits; ink levels, toner levels, paper levels, and, yes, power. You'd be surprised how much hair is pulled out of one's own head over a printer that simply wasn't turned on.

Bad Print Quality

If your documents hit the tray looking less-than-stunning, there are a few reasons—some of which you may be able to remedy yourself.

Step 1: Confirm the file you’re printing is compatible with your printer’s specifications. Typically, it will be set at 300 dpi.

Step 2: If the resolution is not the issue, the problem might be with the size of the image. Use Print Preview to get a sneak preview of how the image will look once it hits the tray.

Step 3: If Print Preview and the finished product are not looking similar, your print heads made be clogged or damaged. To get rid of smudges and lines in a laser printer or copier, print some blank pages to clear the toner head. For smaller inkjet printers, pop out the cartridges and press the print heads carefully yet firmly against a paper towel. The ink that shows up on the paper towel should appear almost like a stamp of the print head with crisp lines. Black or color ink should be consistent without breaks. If the bars on the paper towel can't be cleared with a little bit of firm pressure, the heads may be clogged, damaged, or the cartridge may be running low on ink.

We hope that these tips can help get you out of a printer pickle or paper jam. If these quick fixes don't do the trick, it may be time to consult a printer service professional.

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