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Article ID: 870622 - Last Review: September 18, 2011 - Revision: 7.0

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SUMMARY

This article describes how to troubleshoot Microsoft Office printing problems in Microsoft Windows XP and discusses the following topics:
  • How to troubleshoot your printer hardware
  • How to troubleshoot your printer driver
  • How to troubleshoot printing in Windows XP
  • How to troubleshoot program printing
  • How to troubleshoot in Selective Startup mode

INTRODUCTION

This article describes how to troubleshoot problems that you may experience when you try to print to a local printer by using Microsoft Office programs in Microsoft Windows XP.

MORE INFORMATION

This article does not provide in-depth information about how to troubleshoot printing problems over a network, but it does provide many important basic troubleshooting steps that you can use to help diagnose your printing problems. The troubleshooting steps that are listed in this article may also help you verify that your network printing problem is not being caused by a local problem.

For additional information about how to troubleshoot network printing problems, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
314073  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314073/ ) How to troubleshoot network printing problems in Windows XP

Check your printer hardware

Many printing problems can be caused by hardware-related problems. Before you continue to more complex troubleshooting methods, verify that the following hardware-related problems are not causing your printing problem:
  • Verify that your printer is connected to a working power source.
  • Verify that your printer is correctly connected to your printer port. The cable must be seated correctly in the appropriate port on your computer and at the printer.
  • Verify that your printer has paper available (or other appropriate printing media available), and that the paper is not jamming the printer.
  • Verify that your printer contains a sufficient supply of ink or toner to work correctly.
  • If your printer has an online-offline setting or an online-offline button, verify that your printer is online.
  • Reset your printer by turning it off and then turning it back on after 5 to 10 seconds. Many printing problems can be the result of a full printer buffer.
  • Verify that you followed all the installation instructions that were provided by your printer manufacturer.
  • If your printer documentation includes any troubleshooting steps, follow those steps.
  • If you can, perform a self-test on the printer. These "self-diagnostic" tools can frequently resolve or diagnose basic problems with your hardware. The method for performing a self-test is different for each printer. For instructions about how to perform a self-test, see your printer documentation.

    Note If the self-test does not work, your printer may be damaged or it may require servicing. Contact your printer manufacturer for more assistance.
  • If another computer is available, verify that your printer works correctly when it is connected to another computer. If your printer does not work correctly when it is connected to another computer, your printer may be damaged and may require servicing.

Verify printer properties

Incorrect printer property settings can cause the following problems:
  • Poor output
  • Incomplete output
Additionally, incorrect printer property settings can cause your printer not to print at all. Verify that your printer property settings are configured as recommended by your printer manufacturer.

To view the printer property settings, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to view, and then click Properties.
  3. Verify that all your printer properties are configured as recommended by your printer manufacturer.

    To do this, view the documentation that is included with your printer or contact your printer manufacturer.

Print a test page

To print a test page, you must have print permissions. You can also print a test page when you first install a printer.

To print a test page, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to test, and then click Properties.
  3. On the General tab, click Print Test Page.
  4. Click OK if the test page prints correctly.
If the test page did not print correctly, continue troubleshooting for help to resolve the printing problem. If you cannot print a test page, or if you cannot print in several or in all your Microsoft Windows programs, you have one of the following problems:
  • A printer driver problem
  • A Windows problem
  • A hardware problem
  • A connectivity problem

Test the printer driver

To test the printer driver, see if you can print from WordPad or from Notepad.

To print from WordPad or from Notepad, follow these steps:
  1. Restart your computer.
  2. Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and then click Notepad or click WordPad.
  3. Type some text, and then try to print the text.
If you can print from WordPad or from Notepad, the problem may be related to the program that you are using, or Windows may not be running a particular printing command that the program requires. A minor problem with the printer driver can affect printing.

To determine if the printer driver is causing the problem, you can test the printer driver by installing a different driver. To do this, use one of the following methods:
  • If you are using a PostScript printer, load the Apple LaserWriter NT driver. This is a basic PostScript driver. The Apple LaserWriter NT driver can show you if the problem is related to the particular PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file for the printer.
  • If the printer is not a PostScript printer, load the Generic/Text Only printer driver. This is a basic printer driver. The Generic/Text Only printer driver can show you if the basic printing stack is working correctly.
  • If you are using a plotter, load the Hewlett-Packard HP-GL/2 plotter driver. For more information about the plotter driver, visit the following Hewlett-Packard (HP) Web site:
    http://www.hp.com (http://www.hp.com)
    Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.
To install a printer driver, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to change drivers for, and then click Properties.
  3. To install a new or an updated version of the printer driver by using the Add Printer Driver Wizard, click New Driver on the Advanced tab.
  4. Click Next, and then use one of the following methods:
    • Click the appropriate printer manufacturer and printer model if the new or the updated driver is on the list.
    • Click Have Disk if the printer driver is not included in the list, or if you have received a new or an updated driver on CD or disk from the printer manufacturer. Type the path where the driver is located, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then follow the instructions that appear on the screen to finish installing the printer driver.
If the printer does not print when you use the basic drivers, see the "Check the printing stack" section. If the printer does print when you use the basic drivers, see the "Check the program" section.

Check the printing stack

  1. Remove and then reinstall the printer driver. To replace a damaged printer driver, follow these steps:
    1. Quit all the Windows programs that are running.
    2. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
    3. Right-click your default printer, and then click Delete. If you are prompted to remove extra files that are left on the computer, click Yes.
    4. Double-click Add Printer, and then follow the instructions that appear on the screen to reinstall your printer driver.

      Note If you are on a network, you may have to install the correct printer driver from a network printer share. Contact your network administrator for instructions.

      If you are using a service pack, reinstall the service pack after you reinstall the printers.
  2. Check the available space on the hard disk.
Print jobs may not print if there is not sufficient space to spool the print job.

Print at a command prompt

When you print at a command prompt, it tests the connection between your computer and your printer. This procedure is divided into two sections, depending on your printer type: PostScript or non-PostScript. For either procedure, you must know the printer port where your printer is connected.

To determine the port where your printer is connected, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Click the icon that represents the printer that you want to use, click the File menu, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Ports tab, look in the Print to the following port area, and then make a note of the port that your printer is connected to.
To print at a command prompt by using a PostScript printer, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. If your printer is connected to the LPT1 port, type copy con lpt1 at the command prompt. If your printer is connected to a port other than the LPT1 port, replace lpt1 with the correct port.
  3. Press ENTER.
  4. At the command prompt, type showpage, and then press ENTER.
  5. Press CTRL+Z, and then press ENTER.
If your printer ejects a sheet of paper, the connection between your computer and your printer is fine. If you cannot print at the command prompt, see the "Start Windows in Selective Startup Mode" section.

To print at a command prompt by using a non-PostScript printer, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click More Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, type echo hello, press CTRL+L, and then type dir > lpt1. If your printer is connected to a port other than the LPT1 port, replace lpt1 with the correct port. After you type the line, it appears as echo hello ^L > lpt1.
  3. Press ENTER.
If your printer prints a page that has a listing, the connection between your computer and your printer is fine. If you cannot print at the command prompt, see the "Start Windows in Selective Startup Mode" section.

Test the fonts

A damaged font may be the cause of the printing issues that you are experiencing. The following section will help you troubleshoot font issues.

Print a font sample

Fonts are used to display text on the screen and in print. Fonts have styles, such as italic, bold, and bold italic. If you suspect that a particular font is causing a problem when you are printing, try to print a font sample.

To print a font sample, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then double-click Fonts.
  2. Double-click the font that you want to print.
  3. On the sample page, click Print.
If the problem is limited to a particular font, a damaged font file may be the cause.

For additional information about testing and reinstalling fonts, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
314960  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314960/ ) HOW TO: Install or remove a font in Windows

Print TrueType fonts as graphics

If your problem appears to be related to fonts, turn on the Print TrueType As Graphics feature if it is supported by your printer, and then test to determine if your problem is resolved.

To print TrueType fonts as graphics, follow these steps.

Note To change the printing preferences, you must have print permissions.
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the icon for the printer that you are using, and then click Printing Preferences.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Under Document Options, click to select the Print Text as Graphics check box.

    Note The Print Text as Graphics check box appears in the Advanced dialog box only if your printer supports this feature.
  5. Click Enabled.
Note By default, when your printer supports Print Text as Graphics, TrueType fonts are downloaded to the printer. Generally, this speeds up printing because the fonts in your document reside in the printer's memory. If your printer cannot print a document when Print Text as Graphics is turned on, turn off this setting, and then try to print again.

Decrease your printer resolution

You may experience printing issues, if your printer is configured to print at a high resolution. To determine if this is the cause of your printing problem, decrease your printer resolution, and then test to determine if your problem is resolved.

To decrease your printer resolution, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the General tab, and then click Printing Preferences.
  4. Click a lower resolution (or dots per inch) for your printer in the Resolution box, and then click OK.
  5. Test to determine if your problem is resolved, and if not, return your printer resolution to the original setting.

Check the program

At this point, it has been determined that you can print from WordPad or from Notepad and the printing problem seems to be specific to one program.

To resolve the problem in the program, use the following methods:
  • Print a different, simpler file. Create a new document that contains less information. This test determines if the cause is the program or if the cause is something in the document.
  • Check the available disk space on the system drive by seeing if a small print job prints successfully.
  • See if you can print from another operating system. If printing succeeds, the problem is related to the output file.
If the new document prints, the problem may be specific to the one document. Use the following suggestions to see if the problem is specific to something in the document. If the new document does not print, see the "Start Windows in Selective Startup Mode" section.

Check memory and disk space

The document that you are trying to print may require more memory. Save the document that you are trying to print, and then paste a section of the document in a new file. If you cannot print graphics, paste one of the graphics in the new file. Close all files except the new file, and then try to print.

If you can print, your original document might require more memory than your computer has available. Your operating system might be low on memory.

To free memory, try one or more of the following methods:
  • Quit any other programs that you are running.
  • Close all the documents except the one that you are trying to print.
  • Quit all the programs that are running, and then restart your computer.
  • Make sure that you have sufficient free disk space on your hard disk. It is best to have at least 120 megabytes (MB) of free space.
Your computer uses disk space in the process of sending information to the printer. You can have trouble printing if you have less than 120 MB of free space on the hard disk where Windows is installed.

To determine the free space that is available on your hard disk, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  2. Right-click the icon of the hard disk where Windows is installed, and then click Properties. The General tab shows the total free space on your hard disk. 1 gigabyte (GB) of space equals 1024 MB.
To make more space available, use one or more of the following methods:
  • Empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Use the Disk Cleanup tool to free disk space. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup.
    2. In the Drives box, click your hard disk, and then click OK.
    3. In the Files to delete list, select one or more of the options.
    4. You can also click the More Options tab to see other options for freeing disk space.
  • Delete any documents or data files that are no longer used, or move them to another location for archiving.
  • Use the Add/Remove Programs tool to remove any programs that you do not want. To do this, follow these steps:
    1. Click Start, click Control Panel, and then click Add or Remove Programs.
    2. Click the program that you want to remove, and then click Change/Remove.
    3. Click Yes to remove the program.

Determine if printing is paused

To determine if printing is paused, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click your printer.
  3. Click Resume Printing or click Use Printer Online if either option appears on the menu.
  4. Try to print again.

Check the printer port

To make sure that you are printing to the correct port or to the shared printer path, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Ports tab, in the Print to the following ports list, click the correct port.
The most common printer port setting is LPT1. However, some printers require a different port. To determine the port that your printer should use, see your printer documentation.

Verify the shared printer path for a network printer

  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Properties.
  3. On the General tab, make sure that the correct printer name appears at the top of the page.
If the wrong printer name appears, or if you are not sure of the printer that you should print to, contact your network administrator for more information.

Change the spooler settings

If you have sufficient disk space and you still have a problem printing, try changing your spooler settings. When you print, information is typically written to a file on your hard disk before it is sent to the printer. This process is named print spooling. With print spooling you can continue to use your programs while the document prints. Print spooling is typically faster than printing directly to your printer. However, if you are low on disk space, turning off print spooling might increase printing speed.

Note With print spooling turned off, you must wait for your file to finish printing before you can perform other tasks in the program that you are printing from.

To check or change your spooler settings, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.
  2. Double-click the printer that you are trying to use. The print queue for that printer appears.
  3. If any documents appear in the print queue, click Print, click Cancel All Documents, and then click OK.
  4. Right-click the printer that you want to use, and then click Properties.
  5. Click the Advanced tab.
    • If the Spool print documents so program finishes printing faster option is selected, print spooling is turned on.
    • If the Print directly to the printer option is selected, print spooling is turned off, and you are printing directly to the printer.
  6. Change the setting to see if this speeds up printing. To change the setting, click one of the options that are listed in step 5.
    • If you are printing to a network printer, you might not be able to change your spooler settings.
    • For some printers, the printing speed can be much slower when it prints graphics than when it prints text.

Look for resource conflicts

Your printer hardware must be configured so that it does not conflict with other hardware that you have installed.

To look for resource conflicts, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click System.
  2. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Hardware tab, and then click Device Manager.
  3. Double-click Ports.
  4. Right-click the appropriate port for your printer, and then click Properties.
  5. Click the Resources tab, and then verify that there are no conflicts listed in the Conflicting device list.

Start Windows in Selective Startup mode

To look for device drivers or memory-resident programs that might be interfering with the print function of the program you are using, start in Windows mode, and then test printing to a file in the program.

Note You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to finish this procedure. If your computer is connected to a network, network policy settings may also prevent you from completing this procedure.

Warning When you follow the steps in this section, you may make the System Restore Service unavailable, and you may remove any previously created restore points.

For additional information about how to use the System Restore utility to restore the computer to an earlier state, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
306084  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306084/ ) How to restore the operating system to a previous state in Windows XP

To start Windows in Selective Startup mode, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Run, type msconfig in the Open box, and then click OK.
  2. On the General tab, click Selective Startup, and then click to clear all the subsequent check boxes.

    Note You cannot click to clear the Use Original BOOT.INI check box.
  3. Click OK, and then click Restart to restart your computer.
If the printing problem does not occur when you start Windows in Selective Startup mode, use clean boot troubleshooting to help determine the source of the problem.

For additional information about how to perform a clean boot in Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
310353  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310353/ ) How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP
The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

For troubleshooting steps and an automatic fix for common printer problems in Windows, please see the following Microsoft web page:


Troubleshooter: Printer problems in Windows (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/help/printer-problems-in-windows)

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