printer won't print



Is your printer not printing for the first time, or has it suddenly stopped printing? here are some diagnostics stops you can take to fix the problem(s).

I plugged my printer into my router, but it doesn't print. what do I do?

this will only work IF your router supports plugging printers into it (Apple's routers do, but only mac-capable printers over Bonjour protocol).

usually routers only support USB storage devices like flash drives and USB hard drives - no bluetooth.

if it is a network printer, then of course you can plug it in with an ethernet cable or wirelessly (but not bluetooth). if you need a wireless USB print server then buy one.

Questions to Ask

  • Is the printer powered up? If it is not, make sure it is plugged into an outlet, it is possible things have gotten loose over time (probably not, but good to check).
  • Printer manufacturers state that plugging the printer into a power strip reduces the power to the printer. I refute this. The voltage going the printer is exactly the same (I measured it with a DMM), and the current coming through is only reduced by a few mA (enough to power the LED's). not a big deal. But to satisfy them, plug the printer power directly into a wall outlet.
  • If you are connecting the printer with USB or wired ethernet, is the cable securely connected and the connectors and sockets not damaged or loose or wobbly?
  • Have you made the mistake of plugging a telephone cable connector into the wider RJ45 ethernet jack?
  • Have you made the mistake of plugging a USB connector into the RJ45 ethernet jack (it can be done, but it shorts things out and it's loose)?
  • Is this printer configured for wireless or wired ethernet, or usb?
    • wired ethernet: you need a router connected to the printer with ethernet cable (not USB, that's for storage if you have it, unless you have a mac and mac router). don't use telephone cable. make sure your ethernet jacks are not damaged in any way or the connectors may come loose/out. If damaged, use an undamaged connector if you have one on the router, or replace the router (sorry, necessary), and if the printer connector is damaged, replace the printer (sorry, necessary), and if the cable is damaged, replace the cable ($15 at any office supply store, the catches should be somewhat stiff and springy). If you have kids, and your network stuff is out in the open, this *may* be a necessity unless they are calm. If you can go wireless, it might save your equipment.
    • wireless: you need to configure your printer through its control panel probably, find your router SSID name and select it, and enter your router's wireless password/passkey, takes some effort since it's not a qwerty keyboard. you still need to install the printer software on your laptop to make the printer icon(s).
    • usb: then no remote stuff normally allowed without buying a wireless USB print server. you need to install the printer software on your laptop to make the printer icon(s). Have you plugged the USB cable into an ethernet jack? (looks like a big telephone jack)
  • If it's a Lexmark or Dell printer, those have special problems with the RPC service. you might want to try printflush from Brad Kovach. this may fix your printer problem (try both icons, it will zap your print jobs & reset the spooler and rpc service).
  • Tip: Reinstalling the printer software may fix the driver problems, every once in a while software corruption happens due to random filesystem corruption (cosmic rays?). and you have to check your disk for errors. the steps at this link may make the printer work again.
  • It is also possible the printer is in an error condition. if your printer icon has red or yellow ! or x on it, then this is the case, winflushprintjobs or printflush may fix the problem. If not, you may have run out of ink, or a head needs to be replaced (see your printer manual for head replacement, in which case you may need to replace the ink too).
print spooler flushing software
Brad Kovach's Printflush, available from free (Open Source)
Lexmark/Dell/All-printer-fixing batch file (zipped), stops stubborn print spooler service and manages lexmark printer weirdnesses (and normal printers). requires that you unzip it. it's a simple batch file, so really all you have to do is download it, double-click the zip file, and then double-click the batch file inside. no installation needed. fixes Lexmarks and Dells and any other relabelled Lexmark especially, and flushes all local jobs on NT and above. It is under the GPL3 License. Brad Kovach's site seems to be down as of 3/6/2012.