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What to do when your HP printer is not printing?

by Anya Bazmarov
HP Printer Not Printing

We like HP printers around here. We find them awesome. However, sometimes even the best device will run into some hitches. If you have an issue with your HP printer not printing, don’t fret: you probably overlooked a key aspect of the HP printer setup process. It’s most likely not the printer’s fault. Probably.

I can’t count the number of times my friends and colleagues swore that their HP printer wouldn’t print no matter what they tried, only for me to check on it and see that it was a minor, easily-fixable issue. So, let’s start with the easy ones, move onto the more difficult solutions and see what you can do if nothing works. Whatever the case, those papers will be full by the time we’re done!

Is your HP printer properly connected to your computer?

This one sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s not as obvious as you might think. In order for your HP printer to print, you first need to double-check that it’s properly connected to the power outlet. As we move our legs, the table and various other devices, the power cord can sometimes come loose, most often on the printer’s side. So, plug both ends in neat and tight.

From there, you need to make sure that the HP printer is properly connected to the computer via the USB cable. This one, along with the power cable, forms the most basic connection that allows the printer to operate. Aside from being much more easily uncorked, the USB cable can also be quite tricky. If the printer uses a USB 2.0 cable, it needs to go into either a 2.0 or a 3.0 port on the computer. However, if it uses a USB 3.0 cable, it must go into a 3.0 port or nothing will happen.

There is also a slight chance that the USB port you’re trying to use on your computer is disabled via BIOS, so either use a different USB port or make sure that all ports are enabled in the BIOS settings.

PrinterHeadlines Tip: Although cables are rough, they can often sustain damage. This usually happens around both ends of the cable where, either due to wear and tear or mishandling, the wires get broken. It not only renders the printer useless, but also creates a safety hazard. Likewise, the wall plug, the printer’s power socket and both ends of the USB cables can get damaged, so you might want to check each of these if you suspect it’s a connection issue.

Do you have the right HP drivers installed?

When we talked about connection there, you’ll notice that we skipped the part about installing USB drivers. While this process is usually automatic, it isn’t always, and you must have the proper set of 2.0 or 3.0 drivers to connect your printer to the computer via USB.

Besides that, the printer has its own drivers that need to be constantly updated. If your printer previously worked but suddenly stopped doing what it’s supposed to, your OS may have been updated while your printer’s drivers remained stale, so you’ll need to fix that part as well. As always, HP customer support is there to help you with their drivers section.

HP printer not printing through Wi-Fi

Wireless printing’s neat. When it works, that is. The full suite of HP printer drivers should allow you to execute Wi-Fi print jobs without much hassle. After downloading and installing it, run the HP Easy Start application, click the “My Printer Is Not Shown” option and pick Wireless. The app should then guide you through the rest.

Of course, we know that things aren’t always so simple, as the HP printer error code list can tell you. There is a good chance you’ll need to log into your router’s user interface to get it to recognize the printer, even if you have the WPS Pin button on the printer ready. Without these steps, it’s almost guaranteed that your HP printer won’t connect to your WIFi. Once your printer is sending a wireless signal, the router’s interface should recognize the device. If it doesn’t, you might need to open a port on it. And, if the HP printer is still not printing, it’s time to move onto the next step.

Did you install the ink cartridges correctly?

From in-depth software calibration, we’ve now moved onto the rough-and-tumble part of HP printer troubleshooting. Way before there were wireless printers with digital screens, a common reason why the ink wasn’t being blotted onto the paper was simply because the cartridges weren’t inserted properly.

Believe it or not, this problem is still very much present today. In fact, with the advent of remanufactured cartridges, we’d say it’s become even more prevalent. Long story short, every ink printer has a certain kind of cartridge that it uses, be it a black or colored one (our HP printer not printing black ink guide shows how even black-and-white printing can be a nightmare). Since there’s no all-purpose solution here, you’ll need to consult your HP printer’s user manual in order to figure out which cartridges are supported and how to install them.

The latter part is especially important. It’s not just about setting them in the right direction: if they haven’t been pushed in all the way, the printer won’t be able to use them, so check the instructions thoroughly on this. And, since we mentioned remanufactured HP ink cartridges, it’s very much worth noting that a cartridge you have is either incompatible or defective and simply won’t work with the printer, meaning it will need to be replaced. However, we recommend you try the other steps first before getting new cartridges.

Is your device calibrated?

As HP printer ink cartridges get emptied out, we replace them. We insert the new cartridge and expect things to work as they did beforehand. However, replacing a printer’s ink cartridge isn’t the same as replacing a battery due to the amount of software involved.

Oftentimes, you will need to recalibrate your HP InkJet printer every time you’ve put in a new cartridge, regardless of the color. Again, this heavily depends on the model, but the calibration process tends to be uniform.

Through the start menu, navigate your way to the Printers section, right click the printer in question and go to Settings, then check what’s on the table. Your software might offer something called the “HP Photosmart Toolbox”. If it doesn’t, just go to the “Service This Device” part, and then click on the Calibration section. You’ll probably see a combination of:

  • Calibrate the device (probably want to run this first)
  • Clean the Print Cartridges (don’t worry, it won’t empty them out), and
  • Align the printer.

We recommend trying all of the available options, which will translate into a full calibration process.

How long since you cleaned the printheads?

If you thought manually aligning the cartridges was rough, you’re about to see what it means to get down and dirty when it comes to printing. Every InkJet printer has a printhead, which pumps the ink onto the paper (these guys explain what are printer printerheads well enough). The longer you use the printer, the more ink gets stuck on the printhead, which oftentimes leads them to stop functioning altogether. No printhead, no printing.

If you suspect a dirty printhead is the cause of your printer issues, there are two steps to consider. You can try taking out the printhead, cleaning it out and inserting it back in. We’re not gonna lie: this is often a tedious and messy process that will require you to not only consult our HP printer manuals, but probably a video as well. Plus, you’ll need a cleaning solution like this one to scrub the nastiness off.

Oftentimes, it’s easier to just replace a printhead that’s seen too much use. The problem is, getting a replacement isn’t that easy, especially with some of the models, and will probably take some time to arrive in the mail. If you’re unwilling to do either, you can have a professional serviceman clean the printhead for you.

Your HP printer is still not printing, what now?

That’s a good question indeed, since we’ve covered pretty much every reason why a HP printer won’t print. If you tried everything listed above (including multiple uninstalls and fresh installs of all drivers and software), it’s a near-guarantee that your printer has broken down.

From here, you can either send it to a professional print repair service or buy a new one. The choice depends on how much you paid for the printer in question. If you have a $3,000 printer, it definitely makes sense to shell out $200 for printer repairs. If you have a $200 printer, however… well, you can see where we’re going with this. Whichever the case, the decision is yours.

While all PrinterHeadlines contributors are printer specialists with many years of experience in the tech industry, we will sometimes refer to other articles and websites. This gives our users a chance to both verify the information they’re getting and gives them a chance to explore additional venues of knowledge.

To cite this article, please use:

Bazmarov, Anya in “What to do if your HP Printer is not printing?” on PrinterHeadlines.com, Published 5/08/2019, Last Accessed 29/08/2019, https://printerheadlines.com/hp-printer-not-printing/

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Photo Credits to:

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