Dell Printer Troubleshooting

By Christopher Capelle

  • Overview

    Dell has become a major player in the tech world since its inception as PC's Limited in 1984, operating out of founder Michael Dell's college dorm room. Dell has consistently produced top-tier PCs and printers, yet no matter how good they are, some are bound to have problems. Whether it's user error, a defect or something unrelated to either, there are ways to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot a Dell printer.
    Dell Printer Troubleshooting
    Dell Printer Troubleshooting
    • Step 1

      Start with the obvious issues. Make sure all cables are connected, the printer is powered on and the ink cartridges are properly seated. If it's a networked printer, confirm that the network is functioning properly. If it's a shared printer, confirm that the host computer is turned on, printer sharing is enabled and the host computer is accessible via the network. Power the printer off and on again.
      Make sure the USB cable works.
    • Step 2

      Swap out the connecting cable to see if that's the issue. Connect the printer to a different port on the computer, or to a different computer. The goal here is to see if the problem is with the computer itself, the connection or the printer.

    • Step 3

      Open the print queue (Start Menu > Settings > Printers) and see if there's a logjam in the queue. If an odd paper size was selected, this could be gumming up the works. Clear all jobs from the print queue, and try printing again.
      A jammed print queue
    • Step 4

      Run the Dell diagnostic software (Start Menu > Programs > Dell) to confirm that the computer can see the printer and to check the ink levels, nozzles and print head alignment.
      Beware of leaky ink cartridges.
    • Step 5

      Use a flashlight to check inside the printer for any jams, foreign objects or broken parts. If the paper isn't feeding correctly, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean any gunk off the rollers and moving parts. A can of compressed air comes in handy here, as well.
      A cotton swab is good for cleaning the inside of your printer.
    • Step 6

      Delete the printer from the computer and reinstall the drivers. For Windows users, open the Control Panel and select "Printers." Highlight the Dell printer, right-click and select "Delete." Mac users can delete the printer by opening System Preferences, selecting "Print & Fax," selecting the Dell printer, and clicking the minus (-) icon at the bottom of the window. Use the original CD to install the drivers, or download them from Dell's website.
      Dell's website
    • Step 7

      Finally, try new ink cartridges. Make sure there isn't a dried up crust of ink clogging the print heads.
      Use only Dell OEM ink cartridges.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • USB cable
    • Printer drivers
    • Second computer
    • Replacement ink cartridges
    • Cotton swabs
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Flashlight
    • Tweezers
    • Compressed air
    • Tip: Don't let your printer sit idle for more than a week, since dried ink cartridges can virtually ruin a printer.
    • Tip: A direct connection to the PC itself is a better idea than through a USB hub.
    • Tip: Use the recommended type of paper for each printing job.
    • Warning:
    • Today's printers are extremely inexpensive, so if things go bad, think twice about putting any money into repairing it.
    • Never use third-party or reconditioned ink cartridges!

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