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Windows XP Professional: The Missing Manual by L.J. Zacker, Craig Zacker, David Pogue

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Printer Troubleshooting

If you’re having a problem printing, the first diagnosis you must make is whether the problem is related to software or hardware. A software problem means the driver files have become damaged. A hardware problem means there’s something wrong with the printer, the port, or the cable.

Test the printer by sending it a generic text file from the command line. (Printing a regular printer disk file isn’t an effective test, because if there’s a problem with the driver, the codes in the file are likely to contain the problem.) To perform such a test, locate a text file, or create one in Notepad (Section 7.1.8). Then choose StartAll ProgramsAccessoriesCommand Prompt; send the file to the printer by typing copy filename.txt prn and then pressing Enter. (Of course, remember to type the file’s actual name and three-letter extension instead of filename.txt.)

If the file prints, the printing problem is software-related. If it doesn’t work, the problem is hardware-related.

For software problems, reinstall the printer driver by opening the Printers and Faxes window, right-clicking the printer’s icon, and choosing Delete from the shortcut menu. Then reinstall the printer as described at the beginning of this chapter.

If the problem seems to be hardware-related, try these steps in sequence:

  • Check the lights or the LED panel readout on the printer. If you see anything besides the normal “Ready” indicator, check the printer’s manual to diagnose the problem.

  • Turn the printer off ...

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