1. The Basics
Before getting into some of the more technical issues that may be occurring, as always it is a good idea to make certain that the printer is properly functioning and everything is connected properly. This would include checking the power supply and any connections with this. The printer needs a connection to the computer, and this is done through a USB cord, a parallel cord or it could be a networked printer that is connected through a CAT 5 cable. If this is connected properly, there should be a power light on the printer and you should be able to print. Otherwise, there are other issues to look at.
2. Printer Drivers
For the printer to work properly, it needs to have an up to date driver installed on the computer. This small piece of software is basically a program that allows the information in the document or webpage to get properly transferred onto paper. If the printer will not print certain pages or the printed document is full of strange symbols and does not look as it should, the driver may need to be updated or reinstalled.
Many printers will have a utility where this can be updated. Otherwise, this information can be found online. One caution would be to not utilize a driver that is listed as a universal driver. It may work for basic printing, but there are sure to be features that will not function properly. Using the driver that is specifically designed for the exact make and model of the printer will ensure the best results.
3. Blank, Faded, Smudged and Misaligned
Depends on the type of printer, there may be issues with the ink cartridges or printing nozzles. If blank pages are printed or the images are faded, this may be an indicator that the ink needs to be replaced. If there are smudges on the paper, there may be a clog in the system and a simple cleaning may remedy this. On most printers, there is an option to clean the printing system. Otherwise, removing the cartridges and replacing them will force the printer to think they are new and it will automatically clean and reset everything.
Sometimes, the printing will seem crooked or misaligned. When this occurs, the alignment needs to be adjusted. This is usually done through a utility on the printer. It usually involves printing a test page and then feeding this back through the printer to realign the print heads.
4. Paper Feeding Issues
If the paper does not get a good start into the printer, a print job will fail. Depending on the type of printer, the feeder tray will vary. In general, this should always be fully stocked. When the printer is out of paper, it will obviously not print. In some instances, a printer will work better when the tray is full. When it gets below a certain point, problems can often occur.
There may be times when the printer pulls more than one piece of paper when it is printing. When this occurs, the feeder should be checked, and in some cases fanning out the individual pieces will help it load the paper more smoothly.
5. Paper Jamming
One of the more frustrating printer issues would be when paper gets stuck or jammed in the machine. When this occurs, the printer should be turned off and the paper removed. If possible, this should be done by gently pulling the paper in the direction of printing. Failure to remove all of the bits of paper can cause further problems.
By being able to troubleshoot and fix some of these basic problems, one should be able to keep the printer running smoothly and limit any printer related frustrations. In some instances, the printer cannot be fixed. In these situations, it is best to seek out professional assistance.