According to my informal survey around the office, the number-one nightmare suffered by modern workers includes three things.

  1. First, a deadline—rapidly approaching, or already past.
  2. Next, a document—presentation handouts, a budget summary, a performance review—that needs printing.
  3. And, finally, a printer that... Just. Won't. Print.

Let's put this problem to rest before it has us tossing and turning even one more time. Here's what to do next time your printer refuses to do its job:

Step 1: Check the printer cable. I know this seems too easy, but the cable might have come loose (at either end). It happens much more frequently than you'd think.

Step 2. Ensure your juice intake. While you're crawling around wiggling cords, check the printer's power cord (and that of any surge protector involved). They really do come unplugged and wow, what a quick fix!

Step 3. Still no printing joy? Get help with a troubleshooter. You can download one, and it's a snap to use. It can identify and repair installation errors, network connection problems, and errors with the print spooler (software that temporarily stores print jobs on the computer's hard disk).

Troubleshooter

Step 4. Steer toward a new driver. Maybe a software upgrade, power outage, or viral infection has corrupted (or otherwise made useless) this critical piece of software that talks to your printer in its own unique language. You can get and install the right driver in one of three ways:

  • If you haven't already done this, tell Windows Update (accessible through the Control Panel or the Start menu search box) to automatically download and install recommended updates. Windows Update might have some catching up to do—and it might include the printer driver you need.

    Windows Update

  • Find the disc that came with the printer and pop it into your drive. It likely contains software that will install a driver for you.
  • Visit the printer manufacturer's website, where you can find and download the printer driver (there are usually instructions along with the download).

It's almost a certainty that one of these fixes will get your document onto paper. And, with these remedies at hand, we can all rest easy—at least about printing.

Now if I could just stop having that dream about forgetfully wearing my slippers to work...

Jeff