The Printer Won’t Print -- 6 Quick and Simple Tips and Fixes to Common Printing Problems


Issues with printing - it's happened to all of us at least once (and probably happened right before the big meeting, too). These 6 tips can help you fix common printer problems.

It happens to all of us.

We click print; walk to the printer; and . . . nothing.

It’s an annoying fact of office life, sometimes rising to the level of panic if we can’t print an important document needed ASAP.Today’s copiers and printers are complex pieces of technology, combining software and machinery to copy, print, scan, and fax. As we all know, gremlins get into both hardware and software, combine the two and the opportunities for Gremlin mischief do arise.

However, many common print problems are simple user error or incorrect use of the equipment.

If you experience any of the following issues regularly, you may need to place a service call to get to the heart of the problem. Most of the time, these quick fixes will get you sorted out.

It Takes Too Long to Print

Higher resolution jobs equals slower printing. When you want a document to print fast, choose a lower resolution - “standard” or “draft.”

Documents that contain complex images and/or are large will also take longer to print than text-only documents. Most base models of printers have minimal memory -- if this is a recurring issue, considering adding RAM to speed image processing.

Be patient. Manufacturers are consistently speeding up the “warm up” time for copiers and printers. Still, to save energy, your device will cool down in sleep mode. Toner needs heat to fuse to paper and your printer needs to warm up. Smashing the button repeatedly to get the process to speed up simply won’t work.


Paper jams happen. I wrote about the science and effort that goes into preventing paper jams here. Here are a few quick tips to take care of paper jams:

  • Follow directions -- the printer control panel will show you where the jam is. For older models, the device’s user guide will be helpful.
  • Pull stuck paper out straight. Torn paper can require a service call to remove if stuck between rollers. Be careful when printing labels, the residue can cause further issues.
  • Use the right paper -- lighter paper jams more easily. Make sure the paper you’re using is supported by the printer.
  • Open the paper tray and shuffle the paper edges. This removes static electricity, which can cause sheets to cling to one another.
  • Moist paper jams. Store paper in a dry place and don’t overload your print trays -- paper will absorb moisture as it sits unused, leading to jams.
  • Use the guides in the tray so the paper is straight and will feed properly.
  • Look at the paper path and remove anything that shouldn’t be there – staples, paper clips, pieces of tape, bagel or pastry crumbs (you’d be surprised!), etc.

Not to be repetitive, but paper jams happen. When they do, here’s How to Fix a Paper Jam.

Print Quality Is Poor

Print quality is often driver or paper-related.

  • If you set your quality to “draft”, doublecheck that you’re still not printing draft quality.
  • Are you using the right paper or media type? Check your print driver.
  • Is the paper in the tray the right paper that matches what you’ve selected?
  • Depending on the type of media being printed on, the fuser may change temperature. Check that it’s adjusting properly. Some can be adjusted manually. Read the user manual and check that it’s set correctly. CAREFUL, fusers will be very hot if used recently.
  • Quickly check for damage on toner cartridges, the imaging unit(s), and the fuser.
  • Print sheets until smudge marks disappear.

If quality is still below par after these steps, call your copier service provider.

Print Job Didn’t Print

The first step is to double check that you sent the print job to the printer you “think” you sent it to. Does your office use print rules (they should, here’s why)? If they do, your job may have been rerouted to the most efficient printer for your print job, not the most convenient for you..  

If you need specific paper, double check the supply at the printer before printing -- you won’t have much luck attempting to print a legal-sized document on 8 1/2 “ by 11” paper.

If it’s stuck in the queue or just doesn’t print, restart the application you’re trying to print from. Still no luck? Reboot your computer. And if that still doesn’t work, turn the printer off for a few minutes.

If none of those steps work, call your IT support -- and tell them you’ve already rebooted because that’s the first thing they’ll tell you to do!

Out-of-Date Drivers

Device drivers need to updated. Check that a download isn’t required. 

Is Everything Plugged In?

In high traffic areas, the device can be jostled and the result is a loose connection. Double check that the printer is on and plugged in. Check the network cable too. If there’s a wireless connection, make sure the Wi-Fi is on and working in the office.

These generic tips are good for both printers and copiers. Different makes and models have their own quirks, so check out the user manual for your specific device too. A quick Internet search will find you a PDF of most user manuals. 

These simple tips can save you time and fix many common print problems without having to interrupt co-workers or your beleaguered IT staff.

Sometimes, your printers and copiers experience real problems. If you can’t get your print job to work, let the person responsible know. If you’re the responsible person, you already know to give your service provider a call. And we look forward to helping you!

10 tips (including "Don't kick your copier!") for getting the most of your copy machine. Get you guide now!

About The Author

Dave Quint, president and CEO of Advanced Systems Inc. and past president of BTA Mid-America. Dave has worked with copiers, MFPs, scanners, and document workflow software since joining Advanced Systems as a sales associate in 1989. His favorite part of the job -- “there is no greater joy than to see the positive impact these solutions have in our client’s businesses.’ You press print, we take care of the rest. Contact us for more information >>