Printing Problems

Between September 2005 and July 2011 I was a regular contributor to MacFormat in the UK.

Whereas I’m posting the published articles for my MacWarehouse writing with the MacFormat ones I’ve decided to post the text as submitted, including any comments that I included for design. I am, however, allowing myself a few small edits for clarity.

The particular one is my third column, written in November 2005. This is presented purely as a historical record as much, if not all, of the information contained in it may well have changed in the meantime.

Printing problems in Mac OS X 10.4

Yesterday your printer was working and today it is not. How do you approach troubleshooting printing problems in Mac OS X 10.4? As with all troubleshooting taking a methodical approach should allow you to narrow down what the cause of the problem is. After each step try seeing if you are able to print.

1 – Check the queue

Open Printer Setup Utility, double-click the printer and ensure that the print queue has not been stopped. If there is an icon that says “Start Jobs” click it to restart the queue.

2 – Did you change anything?

Have you installed anything or made any changes to your Mac since you were last able to print? If you are able to do so undo those changes. If not, for example if you have updated your OS, see if the printer manufacturer has released a more up-to-date driver than the one you are using and try installing that.

3 – Check the application and document

Check to see if the problem occurs with just one application or document

4 – Check the printer

Is the Ready or On-Line light lit? Are any of the other lights lit as well or instead? If so check your printer’s manual to see what the lights mean. If you have a laser printer and you needed to clear a paper jam you will generally have to open and close the toner compartment before the Paper Jam light will go out.

Now try printing a printer test page. By doing this you are checking if the printer is capable of printing. Disconnect the printer from your computer or the network, and then switch it off for a few moments before switching it back on. This will allow the printer’s memory, if it has any, to clear and will put the printer into a known state. Once again check your manual to see how to print a test page.

5 – Check the cables

If you have one try using a different cable to connect the printer to your Mac. If your printer is on a network try connecting it to a known good network point.

6 – Check the ports

Can you use the port on the computer for anything else; can you print to any other printers on the network or connect to a server? If the printer was connected via USB can you use any other USB devices on that port? Also, for USB printers, check to see if the printer is recognized in Apple System Profiler.

7 – Delete and add the printer again

Open Printer Setup Utility select your printer and delete it. Once you have done that click the Add icon and set the printer up again.

8 – Delete and add all printers

Do the same but this time for all of your printers.

9 – Check permissions

Open Disk Utility, select your startup disk on in the left-hand pane and click on the Repair Disk Permissions button.

10 – Reset the printing system

Resetting the printing system will reset all printer settings to their defaults and delete all configuration files. Once you have done this you will have to re-add all printers and faxes that you have set-up. Open Printer Setup Utility and from the Printer Setup Utility select Reset Printing System. If you can’t even open Printer Setup Utility try holding down the Option (or Alt) key whilst trying to open it.


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