Resolving Basic Printing Issues

I would say a good portion of the help desk tickets that come into our office have to do with printing problems. These issues range from simply not being able to print to a ton of gibberish being printed and lots of pages of it.

One of the most common issues we deal with on a regular basis is that the printer just won’t print the document it was sent. The computer might act like it’s printing, but nothing ever comes out.

Another problem people face is printing incorrectly or gibberish, or simply failing to print the job, including an error message.

Printers are finicky little beasts, but there are a few things you might be able to do on your own to get your printing back on track without needing to wait for support to call you back.

Level One

Often the printer just needs to be cleared out. What we will generally recommend as we are trying to troubleshoot is to pull the power cord out of the printer, wait a few seconds and then restore power to the printer.

While the printer is unplugged, it’s also a good idea to go into the printer queue and delete any jobs that are stuck in there. You can usually open the queue by clicking on the printer icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Plug the printer back in and after it is finished booting up, try your print job again.

Level Two

If clearing out the printer doesn’t work, the next step in trying to resolve your printing issue is to delete and re-add the printer.

Open the control panel and then go to the devices and printers section. Right-click on the problem printer and remove it. It’s generally a good idea to follow the above steps first, and remove the power from the printer. I would also unplug the printer from the computer if it is plugged in directly.

Once the printer has been removed from Windows, you can usually re-add it by simply plugging it back into the computer. The machine will auto-discover the device and install the necessary drivers.

After the printer has been re-installed, try your print job again. If things still aren’t working, move to level 3.

Level Three

All of these steps build on each other, so if the first two didn’t work, you will need to start over from the beginning, adding on this new step. Meaning, first you would unplug the printer and clear out the queue. Next, you would delete the printer.

Once you have both of those cleared out, you might need to check for problems with your print spooler. To find the print spooler, open the start menu and type “services”. Once your services application has opened up, look for the print spooler.

Right-click on the “print spooler” and go to properties and select “disable”. Reboot your computer. When it comes back up, go back to the services and re-enable the service, setting it to automatic instead of disabled, and then start the service back up.

Now you can plug everything back in and reinstall the printer.

I guarantee this will resolve about 90% of your printing problems. However, there are still some problems that need more work, so definitely give us a call in that situation and we can take it from here.

Good luck!