Computer and Printer Not PrintingOh, printers. It can certainly seem at times that they have a mind of their own, as they refuse to print when you tell them to. Of course, such printing problems most often occur when you need something to print RIGHT NOW for that paperwork that needs to be in the mail in the next 10 minutes, that IRS audit in half an hour, or the report that needs to be turned in to the professor in class this afternoon.

There are many reasons why a computer won’t print, so you should start troubleshooting with the simplest explanations and work up to the more complicated. Hopefully, you can get that printer working in time to print out your important documents.

Keep in mind that every time you try to print, you send a job to your printer’s queue. If you don’t delete these jobs, then your printer will spit out copy after copy of your document once the printing resumes. You can view the printer’s queue in the Control Panel under Hardware and Printers, though you will likely have a printer icon on your computer’s taskbar that you can click as well.

What are simple explanations for a nonworking printer?

First things first. Check that the printer is plugged into the wall, and that the power cord is plugged into the printer. It may seem too simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions are the ones that work.

Then, check to ensure that all of the printer’s parts are filled and in working order. Make sure that the tray doors—where the paper comes in and where it comes out—are open and there is paper in the paper feed tray. Inspect the ink cartridges and check for any jammed paper within the printer or any errant debris such as a child’s crayon or that pencil that you set down a minute ago.

Lastly, make sure that the printer’s cable is connected to both the printer and your computer if you are using a cord rather than a Wi-Fi connection. If you are using a printer cable, then check the ends that plug into the printer and your computer to make sure they aren’t blocked, crushed, or otherwise compromised in any way that would interfere with a good connection.

If you have another printer cable, you can try it to see if there is a short in the old cable. If you are using a Wi-Fi connection, ensure that your wireless router is on and the printer’s WI-Fi indicator light is lit.

Before you try to print again, turn the printer off and then back on. Sometimes the simplest solution is best, remember? Try to print, and if your documents don’t show up printed, then move on to slightly more complicated solutions.

What are computer-related reasons why my printer won’t work?

If the problem is not with the printer itself, then there is likely an issue with how your printer and computer are communicating. First, check your computer for any messages that you need to address before your printer will print. You might have a message about low ink cartridge levels or reminding you to reset your page orientations because the printer was shut off. You might just have to hit OK to remove the message and commence with your printing.

If you have no warning messages holding up your printer, then you need to look at your printer properties. In Windows 7, printer files are stored in the Control Panel under Hardware—other Windows versions will store the information in a similar manner. Choose Devices and Printers, Printers, etc.

First, make sure that the printer you are trying to use is set as the default printer. The default printer will be labeled with a check or some other signifier to let you know it is the go-to printer. To set the printer to the default, hold the cursor over the printer’s icon or name, right click and choose, ‘Set as default printer.’

If your printer is already the default, click the icon or printer file to open it so you can see the properties. Ensure that the printer is online. Try printing a test page.

What else could be the problem?

If your test page doesn’t print or your documents still won’t print, then you might need to update or reinstall the drivers to the printer. The drivers are the software that makes the printer run smoothly. Check for updates from your printer’s manufacturer that you haven’t installed yet.

If there are no updates, you can reinstall the drivers using the setup CD that came with the printer, or you can get drivers and updates from the printer manufacturer’s website. It is pretty easy to download new or updated drivers, but it can be a long process if you are watching the clock. Usually an Install Wizard will just require you to click Next, Yes, Install, or Done at the appropriate times.

Another option is to completely uninstall and reinstall your printer, but that is also another long process. If all else fails, you can try troubleshooting guides on your printer manufacturer’s website or try Microsoft’s Printing Troubleshooter, or invite your neighborhood computer whiz over for a chat.