Printer Troubleshooting Tools

(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
14 July 2019

I frequently get requests for help from people having trouble printing. The most common problems I find are the following:

  • The wrong printer is selected in the printer settings. This is sometimes caused by using the default setting to “Let Windows manage my default printer”. I prefer to turn that setting off so I always select the default printer.
  • A failed attempt to print is still in the printer queue and needs to be cancelled.
  • The printer is offline. This is usually fixed by rebooting the router and/or printer for a network connected printer and either disconnecting and reconnecting the USB cable or rebooting the computer for a USB cable connected printer.  

The first and last one is relatively easy to talk somebody through to troubleshoot, but unless they have installed a printer app that can easily get to the printer queue, doing it through the normal Windows settings menus can take too many steps to easily follow or remember. One day I was wondering if anyone had come up with a shortcut to directly open the printer queue and sure enough, a quick internet search brought up the following:

This method works for both Windows 7 and Windows 10. After creating a shortcut on one of my computers, I dragged it to a USB drive to copy it and then dragged it from the USB drive to another computer. Now I can also install it for other people to use and only have to edit the printer name in the shortcut to match their printer.

Another printer-related tool I found was for my own old Epson Stylus Photo R200 printer. It has been such a reliable printer and has such fantastic resolution capability that I have been reluctant to replace it, even though a major flaw is the ink is not water-resistant. Finally, it quit working with alternately flashing red lights for the ink and paper, which is the signal for the printer needing service. The most common cause is an internal counter reaching the set limit for either the waste ink pads or some other internal component. I knew that a software tool existed to reset the counters for Epson printers, but in previous searches in the past I had never found it available for free, as it is intended only for Epson repair technicians, and I did not trust the sources that offered it for money. Since I have ink I would like to use up, I decided to try again and this time I came up with the following:

This worked like a charm, and I am now able to run my old printer until it totally breaks down or the waste ink overflows (I could also wash the pads out to prevent that if I want to, there are video tutorials available on YouTube on how to do that). I did go ahead and buy a new Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 wide format printer to also use for more permanent printing of photos.

There are supposedly reset tools for other brands of printers, but I have not had occasion to need them yet. The HP Scan and Print Doctor tool is useful for those with HP printers. It can be found at the HP support site:

Windows 7 and 10 have some basic printer troubleshooting capabilities that can be accessed in multiple ways from the Control Panel or Settings or just enter troubleshooting in the Windows search box.

Posted by Joe Callison

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