We have all been there. One short hour and a half from now, you have an interview for your dream job. You are printing up the final revision to your work history, the resume that proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that you and you alone are the one perfect candidate for this position — when all of a sudden your printer stops dead in its feed.
What to do?
Take a deep breath. We can’t promise to have you up and running again in ten minutes. But nine times out of ten, your printer malfunction is due to something very simple and you’ll solve your problem with some quick trial and error. Here’s what you need to check.
Is Your Printer Plugged In?
Particularly if you’re working in a very tight space with lots of cables and cords, it’s easy to get disconnected from the electrical socket. So first make sure your computer’s electrical supply is still plugged into the juice. Sometimes for no discernable reason cables fail; it’s always a good idea to have an extra on hand to swap out in case this happens to you.
Are the Red Error Lights Flashing?
Sometimes you can clear this problem simply by powering your printer on and off again. Does your paper tray need to be refilled? Do you have a paper jam? It can be difficult to locate the source of a paper jam. Pop open every door and latch that looks as though it can be opened and peer inside; gently feel around the paper tray, the feeding mechanism and the drum (if your printer has one) for any unseemly wad that might be hiding from view.
Perform the Self-Test
Most printers have an option that allows you to print out a page as a test. Instructions will be in your manual. If the printer won’t allow you to ruin the test, or you get an error message that reads, “Test page failed to print” (or words to that effect), chances are it’s a user permission problem. Right-click the file to access “Properties,” click first on “Security” and then on “Advanced” to reset.
Check the Print Queue
When you’re using the Windows operating system, sometimes print jobs get stuck in the print queue. This will block any other job from printing, and the stuck print job can’t be cleared through the simple expedient of turning your computer off and then back on again. You will need to stop the print spooler, manually delete the troublesome print job and then restart the print spooler again. Then try printing your original document again.
Corrupt Printer Driver
A printer driver is a little piece of invisible software that translates the data you want printed into an action plan your printer can understand. Sometimes these drivers stop functioning. Your printer will not print normally again until its corrupted driver is replaced.
Your Default Printer Has Changed
Some graphic aps come with their own faux-printer-like devices and stealthily switch your preferences so this becomes your printing default. Go into your control panel and make sure the printer you’re actually using is selected as your default.