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Chapter 4. Troubleshooting Common Problems > Handling Printer Problems

Handling Printer Problems

Printing is supposed to be straightforward, but there can be times when the printer just won't give you what you want. In such cases, you can fix common problems by reviewing this list:

  • Windows XP should display error pop-up messages in the system tray (the far right of the taskbar) when the printer is not functioning correctly. If the printer isn't connected or is out of paper, check for printer messages from Windows to locate the problem.

  • If you missed the error message, start with the basics: If a document won't print, make sure that the printer is plugged in and turned on. Also, check the printer cable—is it solidly connected to the printer and the computer? A loose cable is easy to fix and overlook.

  • Check the printer for error messages. Usually, these are displayed as flashing lights. More sophisticated printers may display actual messages. On my particular printer, I have lights for paper and error. Paper means a paper jam. Error means something else, usually something simple like the paper drawer isn't pushed in all the way, or I didn't clear the paper jam correctly. If you get an error message from the printer and you don't know what it means, check your printer manual.

  • You can tell whether the printer and computer are communicating because the printer should display some type of indication when it is receiving data. (Mine flashes the data light.) If you see this light, you know the data is getting to the printer, but the printer just isn't printing.

  • Some printers can “choke” on documents that are too complex. In some instances, the computer may not have sufficient memory to print such a complex document. If you are trying to print a complicated layout or complex graphics and the print job never comes out of the printer, you might not be able to print that document. Instead, try printing a single page. If that works, print the pages in batches. If it doesn't, you might need to make some modifications to the layout and formatting (or get a better printer).

  • For additional troubleshooting advice on printers, click Start, select Control Panel and click Printers and Other Hardware. From this window, under Troubleshooters, click Printing. Select your problem from the list of problems and then click Next to use the Troubleshooter to check out the problem and recommended solutions.



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