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  • Writer's pictureNorm McLaughlin

Fixing Printer Problems

Updated: Sep 10, 2023


solving printer problems
You may encounter various issues trying to get your printer to do what you want it to do

In the course of assisting clients in Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and the Redlands with their technical issues, I often find that people are having printer problems of various sorts. Just last week I encountered one printer issue on Thursday and two more on Friday. Almost every week I seem to be assisting someone with a printer problem of one kind or another.


The printer issues I encounter frequently tend to fall into one of three categories. Firstly, someone may need assistance with installing their printer in the first place. Or they've changed their router and the printer has lost connection with the network and is no longer accessible by their computer. Or thirdly, they may have succeeded in getting the printer to print, but they’ve been unable to implement the scanning functionality or some more complex printing requirement. Those are a few of the more common printer problems, though various other issues can also arise.


Printer Installation Problems


In theory, installation of a printer is a straightforward process. Whether it's an HP printer, a Brother, a Canon, an Epson, or another brand, just follow the instructions provided, use the manufacturer’s app on your mobile device, install on your computer, and your printer should be up and running, printing and scanning. However, even after following the instructions to the letter, I’ve sometimes found clients to be stuck and unable to complete the process.


When you're installing a printer for the first time, it's necessary to first connect it to WiFi before you can proceed with the installation. That’s assuming you're not installing it using a USB cable. If you are using USB, which tends to be less common with newer printers, then it tends to be a more straightforward process because the connection to the computer is effected automatically using the USB cable. But assuming you're connecting the printer to your WiFi and wanting to potentially have other devices printing to the printer over WiFi, the first step is to connect it to your WiFi network.


Connecting Your Printer to WiFi


Printers which have a display panel, which may or may not support touchscreen functionality, are more straightforward to connect to WiFi than those which don't. Some printers don’t have any form of display panel at all, but simply various buttons and LED’s. The colours and patterns of the LED’s indicate what’s going on with the printer at any given time.


For printers with a display panel, it’s often an easy enough procedure to connect the printer to WiFi by getting the printer to search for your WiFi network SSID and then entering the password. An even easier way to do this is to use WPS (WiFi Protected Setup). To utilise WPS, simply press or hold down the relevant button on your router for a second or two. For the next couple of minutes you can connect the printer (or another device) to the router’s WiFi network without the need for a password.


However, many printers don't have a display panel and don’t support this functionality. For these printers, you need to put the printer into a mode whereby it’s ready to connect to WiFi by pressing a certain combination of buttons. For whichever brand of printer you're installing, there will be an app for use on your mobile device which will facilitate the connection of your printer to the WiFi. Once the printer’s connected to the WiFi you can then proceed from there. Your mobile device will need to be connected to your WiFi, and then you'll follow a set of steps, one of which will be to put the printer into the required mode to receive the the WiFi settings. The app will search for the printer and, after finding it, will transmit the WiFi settings to the printer. Once the printer is connected to the WiFi, this is usually confirmed by some sort of LED on the printer, possibly a blue one or a green one, depending on the brand.


One issue I've encountered several times has been with certain printers being unable to connect to 5 GHz WiFi networks. You may have a 2.4 GHz WiFi network and a 5 GHz network in your home or at your place of business, and various devices may be connected to one or the other. If you find that your printer is unable to connect to the 5 GHz network, it’s worth trying to connect it to the 2.4 GHz network instead. The printer will function in exactly the same manner whether connected to the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz network.


Once the printer is connected to your WiFi, it’s usually a case of going to the printer manufacturer’s website to download the required drivers and other software. If you have an HP printer, it's going to be the HP Smart app which is available from the Microsoft Store. If it's another brand, it’s going to be the manufacturer's app, or whatever is available on their website for your printer. As an alternative to downloading the software, you could use the disc supplied with the printer, if one was provided.


Whichever method you’re using, launch the installation software and follow the steps. The software should find the printer and install it, providing you with printing and scanning functionality. It’s worth adding that, if you are using the HP Smart app, and you want to be able to scan from the printer’s display panel, you will need to download additional software from HP to implement this functionality.


Printer Problems Following a Change of Router


You may have changed your router, whether you've moved to a new location, or transferred to a new ISP, or simply upgraded the router. If so, the new router will have a different SSID (WiFi network name) and password. The most efficient approach to ensuring that your printer continues to work seamlessly is to change the SSID and password on your new router to the same as what these were previously. This requires a log-in to the router to make these changes. After doing so, the printer and any other devices which were connected to the previous WiFi will then readily reconnect to the new WiFi, even though you've changed your router.


I am aware that many people wouldn’t feel comfortable making the changes I’ve just described and would prefer not to adjust any of the router’s settings. In this case, you would need to work through the steps to get your printer reconnected to your WiFi. Following that, it would be a good idea to run the installation software again to ensure that everything is fully installed.


Solving Scanning Problems and Other Printer Functionality Issues


A third printer issue occurs when you’ve been able to get your printer printing but not scanning, or perhaps without full printing functionality. This may occur on a Windows computer if you’ve simply added the printer in Control Panel or the settings. In this case the computer may have detected the printer and installed it, but potentially not with the fully featured driver from the printer manufacturer. You may simply have a default or basic driver which will provide you with only basic printing functionality.


A recent client was printing from a Mac computer to three different printers at their home-based business. Amongst other things, she was finding that she could print to A4 paper but not to A3. When she would open the print dialogue, the option to print to A3 wasn't even available. This was because the printer had been added using Bonjour which utilised Apple’s built-in driver rather than by downloading and installing the driver from the manufacturer’s website. As a result, the print functionality was limited. Once the manufacturer’s drivers were downloaded and installed and the printer re-added, the full functionality of printing to A3, together with other options, was then available.


Conclusion


I've described just a few problems you may encounter with your printer. The first issue relates to getting your printer installed in the first place. The second problem occurs if you've changed your router, resulting in a change to your WiFi settings. And a third issue needing to be resolved is when you need to scan as well as print and also to print with full functionality, not just the basic functionality.


If you’re having difficulty with any of these printer-related issues, or you have any other problems with your printer and you're somewhere in Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan or the Redlands, please feel free to give me a call. I'd be more than happy to come to you to assist in getting your printer fully up and running. Fixing printer problems is one of my specialities so please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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