General printer troubleshooting
Printer does not have power indicator
First, make sure that the printer is on. When a printer is on it should have some light or LED (usually green) indicating it's receiving power and is on.
If you do not have any indicator light make sure the printer is connected to a working power outlet by verifying each end of the power cable. Next, press the printer power button.
If after following the above steps your printer still cannot get a power status indicator it's likely you're encountering a serious printer issue and we suggest contacting the printer manufacturer for additional steps and instructions on repair or replacement.
Cables not connected properly
Your printer should have two cables connected to it. The power cable and the data cable, the power cable should have already been verified as being connected if your printer has a power indicator light as mentioned above. Make sure the data cable (parallel cable or USB cable) is also connected from the printer to the computer.
Printer error (orange or blinking light)
After your printer has completed its initial startup you should have a solid green light. If the light indicator is blinking or orange often this is an indication of a printer error. For example, this could indicate a paper jam, issue with the ink or toner cartridge, or other serious error.
Because there is no standard to what a blinking light or orange light means if you're getting either of these we suggest referring to the printer documentation for troubleshooting steps or methods of determining what the status indicator is reporting.
No paper or paper jam
Without paper your printer will not be able to print. Make sure you have paper in the paper loaded into the printer paper cartridge or tray. Next, verify that no printer paper is jammed or partially fed into the printer. If you have one or more pieces of paper stuck in the printer these will need to be manually removed before the printer will print again.
Inkjet printer ink related issues
Often when you're encountering an ink related issue you're printer status indicator light (mentioned above) should be flashing. If this is not occurring you may want to skip to the next section. However, if you've recently inserted a new ink cartridge you may want to try the below suggestions.
Printer self tests
Most printers have a way of printing a test page. This page allows you to determine if the printer is physically working or not. This test is usually accomplished by holding down a series of keys. If you are not sure if your printer has this feature or how to perform it refer to your manual or visit your printer manufacturers website.
In addition to testing the printer using the printer self-test Microsoft Windows users can also perform a software self-test to determine if their computer is able to see the printer and it's able to print. Follow the steps below to perform this test.
Microsoft Windows 98, 2000, ME, XP, 2003, and Vista users
- Click Start, Settings, and open Control Panel.
- Double-click the Printers or Printers and Fax icon.
- Right-click on the Printer you want to test and click Properties. If you do not see your printer listed your printer is not installed.
- In the Printers Properties window click the Print Test Page button.
- If the printer is able to print a test page, you're printer is installed and setup properly. However, if you're unable to print in other programs it's possible that the program you're attempting to print from has issues.
Older versions of Windows with older printers
Get to a MS-DOS prompt or Windows command line
Get to the root directory - Type: cd\
Reroute dir to printer - Type: dir > lpt1
The above should take the directory listing and print to the printer. If this does not print, refer to your operating system troubleshooting section. Extra Note: This will not paper feed, therefore press your FF or PP, or manually eject the paper.
If your printer does not have any flashing lights and is connected properly it's possible you may be encountering a driver related issue. We suggest visiting our printer driver listing, which links to all major printer manufacturer driver pages and downloading the latest printer drivers for your printer.
Parallel (LPT) printers
If the printer you're connecting to the computer is an LPT (parallel port) printer we also suggest verifying the below suggestions if your printer is not working.
Parallel port in CMOS
- Enter the computers CMOS setup.
- Once in CMOS verify that your parallel port is enabled or installed.
- Next, verify the printer or parallel port mode. This option will often have different modes. If your parallel port is set to ECP mode, we suggest trying a different mode.
Other parallel device
If you have a parallel printer with other parallel devices such as a parallel scanner or zip drive, temporarily disconnect these devices to verify they are not causing your issue.