- Ink: Number one on our list simply because it is the most obvious. Are you having difficulty printing because you are out or running low on ink? Check this first if your printed page was not printed to your satisfaction.
- Paper Jam Remnants: We all know our printers are not shy about letting us know when there is a paper jam, however some of these printers are not aware of small pieces of paper that get left behind from prior paper jams. Over time the pieces disrupt the flow of paper more and more, and the first sign of trouble is often squiggly lines in your prints. These small pieces of paper often require tweezers to extricate them so be sure to snag some from the bathroom and get those pieces out.
- Check the Paper Size: For those straddling the metric and imperial world this is a common problem, your computer and paper in the printer do not agree on the size. If using US Letter make sure that you are telling the printer to use that paper and not A4. This happened to use recently, for a few days we were convinced that something was wrong with the alignment and perhaps serious settings tinkering were needed and it turned out we simply forgot to move the paper size back to US Letter from A4.
- Check Alignment: Did the colours on your print not come out quite right yet you have full cartridges? This is likely an alignment problem and it is easily corrected. Remove all of your cartridges and reinsert them, then use the built in alignment diagnostic tool in your printer. This tool may need to be used more than once. The last time we needed to fix our alignment it took two runs of the diagnostic tool to get it into ship shape.
- Clean Printheads: Do your prints have dashes and ink pools? A common cause of these issues is dirty printheads. Not to worry, cleaning them generally does not involve cleaning supplies or taking anything apart. To clean the printheads simply select it from the menu in your printer, generally it is found under "Ink Tools." Most printers have a "clean printheads" and "deep clean printheads" option and we like to try and solve first with "clean" before reaching for "deep clean," just because we're thrifty about ink.
Ever made a mistake like our US Letter & A4? Share your tale of printer troubleshooting in the comments.