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HP Printer Won’t Print: 7 Reasons (How to Fix It) Troubleshooting Guide

It’s frustrating to need a document and find your HP printer won’t print. Whether you see a flashing light or don’t get a response from the printer, there are several reasons your printer isn’t working.

There are a few reasons your HP printer won’t print. To fix it, you can check cable connections (USB and power), update the printer driver, cancel pending print jobs, set it as Default Printer, and check issues on your computer.

hp printer won't print

Knowing what might cause your HP printer to stop printer (and how to troubleshoot) will eliminate stress and get you back to printing.

Reasons Your HP Printer Won’t Print

If you find your HP printer not printing, there could be several problems with the device.

The most common is a paper jam. You’ll usually know this is the issue because you can hear the printer struggling to feed the sheets through the internal workings. Open the printer and check every place that paper feeds through the machine. You’ll likely find the jam and can carefully pull it out.

Sometimes your HP printer works, but the final results look faded. In the case of faded prints, check the toner. When your printer is low on toner, it can’t create the vivid images and text you’ve seen before.

Turn off Economode, which saves ink and produces lighter prints, then run a test to see how the ink looks. Replace the toner cartridge if necessary.

Faded prints can also happen if your printer doesn’t use black ink, even if you just installed a new cartridge. Make sure you remove the protective tape from the cartridge top, then run a diagnostic test to see the root of the problem. The test will give you some ideas to try to solve the issue.

How to Fix an HP Printer Not Printing

There are other printing problems you might encounter beyond those described above. If your HP printer won’t print, try these six solutions to solve the issue.

1. Basic Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting tips are the ideal first step because they solve multiple issues with one solution. You don’t need to know the specific problem when troubleshooting since you’re treating the entire printer as the problem.

  1. First, check the connection between the printer and the computer. With so many cords connected to the back of your computer, they can dislodge over time. Ensure the cable has a secure link to the printer. Follow the cord to the other end to verify it’s in the correct computer port. 
  2. Next, ensure the printer has power. Follow the power cord from the back of the printer and ensure it’s plugged into a working outlet.

If you’re using a surge protector, check that it’s getting electricity. You should reset the surge protector or get a new model that delivers uninterrupted electricity to the connected devices.

2. Update the Driver

Though your HP printer can last for years, the driver may need frequent updates. HP will release a new driver if they notice security or compatibility problems.

To update your HP printer driver, you can use HP Smart or HP Print and Scan Doctor.

Some driver updates even streamline your printer’s efficiency or add new features. Regularly checking for updates can significantly impact your printer performance.

You can get driver updates from HP customer support online. Search for your printer model and see what updates are online.

You can read summaries about the new features included with each driver. Some will patch bugs that crop up over time, while others might use ink more efficiently or give you new printing options.

After updating the driver, you might need to reset your HP printer.

3. Set a Default Printer

Your computer tries to simplify all the work you need to do to make everything run smoothly, so it sets a default printer. In many cases, the default printer might be Adobe, and it will try to save a document as a PDF instead of printing a physical copy.

Nothing will happen if you try to print a document and the HP printer isn’t the default. Your computer will save the file as a PDF or search for a printer that isn’t connected.

Computers running Windows as the operating system have an automatic setting to let Windows choose the default printer. The system will set a printer based on the last one used. You can uncheck this box from your printer settings and manually set the HP printer as your default.

Right-click on the HP printer and select “Set as default printer” on the menu. You’ll see a green check on the printer icon, verifying that it’s the default. When you try to print a document, it will automatically go to the HP printer first without needing additional input from you.

why won't my hp printer print

Here’s how to connect your HP printer to WiFi.

4. Cancel All Jobs

Every time you send a document to the printer, it lines up in the queue to print. In some cases, files can fail but remain listed in the queue. Canceling all jobs will give your printer a fresh start and potentially troubleshoot any issue.

  1. Open your printers from the control panel. You’ll see your HP printer with the green check mark since it’s your default option.
  2. When you right-click on the printer, the top menu option is “See what’s printing.” It shows the printer queue, and you can right-click each job and cancel it.

You can also go to the top printer menu and select “Open as Administrator.” This choice gives you the ability to cancel all documents at once. You’ll confirm the action before it takes effect, allowing you to see what’s in the queue that you might need to re-send later.

After manually canceling each job or clearing the queue as an administrator, you shouldn’t see any documents waiting to print. Send a page through the printer and see if it prints immediately since there isn’t anything in the queue.

More reading: 5 Fixes for HP Printer Not Printing Color

5. Verify Printer Status

While these top four steps typically solve common problems, you might try them all and still need help with your HP printer. In that case, you most likely have a hardware problem related to a paper jam, lack of paper, or empty ink cartridges.

Try each solution one at a time to know the root cause and save time and money on repairs.

The most common solution is to add new paper, then check for a paper jam. You can print a document and listen to see if the machine struggles. This sound can help you find the location of the blockage.

If the paper isn’t the problem, it’s time to buy new ink cartridges. Even if your printer says the ink levels are fine, the ink might have dried out and jammed the nozzles. Fresh cartridges can solve the problem. 

Here are five steps to change ink in your HP printer.

6. Repair Computer System Files

A printer problem doesn’t have to be the fault of HP. Sometimes your operating system might have an error that prevents communication with external devices, like your printer.

You can run the diagnostics for Windows and see if there are any system problems to repair. You’ll see what files are corrupt and have a chance to fix them from the diagnostics dashboard.

Once you run the test and repair any errors, turn the computer off and let it stay off for a few minutes. Turn it back on, let everything load, and then try to print a document.

7. HP Printer is Offline

Your printer might now print because it’s gone offline.

Here are seven ways to bring your HP printer back online.

hp printer not printing

Final Notes

If your HP printer won’t print due to connectivity issues or ink problems, you now have tips for finding a resolution.

These 7 steps are effective solutions, so if they don’t work for you, contact HP for specific help. It helps to consider the age of your printer when troubleshooting. It might be easier to upgrade your printer instead of struggling to update an old model.