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How to Troubleshoot Your Printer from Windows 8

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When you can't print something from within Windows 8, start with the basics: Are you sure that the printer is turned on, plugged into the wall, full of paper, and connected securely to your computer with a cable?

If so, try plugging the printer into different outlets, turning it on, and seeing whether its power light comes on. If the light stays off, your printer's power supply is probably blown.

Printers are almost always cheaper to replace than repair. But if you've grown fond of your printer, grab an estimate from a repair shop — if you can find one — before discarding it.

If the printer's power light beams brightly, check these things before giving up:

  • Make sure that a sheet of paper hasn't jammed itself inside the printer. (A steady pull usually extricates jammed paper; sometimes opening and closing the printer's lid starts things moving again.)

  • Does your inkjet printer still have ink in its cartridges? Does your laser printer have toner? Try printing a test page: From the desktop, right-click in the bottom-right corner and choose Control Panel. From the Hardware and Sound category, choose Devices and Printers. Right-click your printer's icon, choose Printer Properties, and click the Print Test Page button to see whether the computer and printer can talk to each other.

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  • Try updating the printer's driver, the little program that helps it talk with Windows 8. Visit the printer manufacturer's website, download the newest driver for your particular printer model, and run its installation program.

Finally, here are a couple of tips to help you protect your printer and cartridges:

  • Turn off your printer when you're not using it. Inkjet printers, especially, should be turned off when they're not in use. The heat tends to dry the cartridges, shortening their life.

  • Don't unplug your inkjet printer to turn it off. Always use the on/off switch. The switch ensures that the cartridges slide back to their home positions, keeping them from drying out or clogging.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.


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