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How to Install a Printer

Printers have quickly become a must-have home office tool, and their installation has been significantly streamlined over the years. While most printers will install automatically, adding the printer to a network or sharing the printer with other users can still be a bit tricky. Once you learn how to do it, you can even enable your printer to allow you to print from anywhere in the world!

Read the installation guide for your printer if you have it. Lots of printers can be very finicky, and if you have an installation guide you should follow its exact instructions before deferring to these general instructions. You can usually find the installation guide as a PDF file on the manufacturer's support page for your model.

  • You can quickly find the support page for your printer by opening Google and searching for "manufacturer model support".

Plug the printer into your computer. Make sure to plug it into a USB port directly on your computer, and not a USB hub.

  • Some printers will need to be plugged into a power source as well.

Wait for your operating system to detect and install the printer. All modern versions of Windows and OS X should be able to automatically detect the printer and install the necessary drivers for you. You may need to be connected to the internet in order for your operating system to download the appropriate files. For most users, this should be all you need to do in order to begin printing from your computer to your new printer. If you are using an older version of Windows/OS X, or the printer is not automatically detected, read on.

Install the software that came with the printer. This will usually install any drivers that weren't installed automatically by Windows, and may install extra printing software that allow you to take advantage of additional features on your printer. If you don't have the disc that came with the printer, and it wasn't automatically detected by your operating system, read on.

  • As long as your printer was properly automatically installed, you usually don't actually need to install anything else.

Download the drivers from the manufacturer's website. If you don't have the disc and the printer wasn't installed automatically, you can download the drivers directly from the manufacturer. You will need to know your printer's model number, which should be prominent on the printer itself.

Run the downloaded drivers. After installing the drivers, your printer should now be ready to print from any program on your computer that supports printing.

How to Clear a Paper Jam

However advanced your printer, one piece of wrinkled paper can grind it to a halt. Most paper jams are straightforward mechanical problems. It can take patience to remove the paper, but once you've found it, you know the solution. If you can't find the issue or the printer still won't work after the paper is removed, consult your owner's manual or an expert repairman.

  • Turn off the printer. This reduces the chance of damaging the printer or injuring yourself. Wait for the printer to finish shutting down. Unplug the printer for additional safety.

Gently move print head sideways to free paper. In an inkjet printer, the print head is the component that moves across the paper, expelling ink from the attached cartridges. If the print head has not moved to the side of the printer, it is probably stuck against the paper. Gently try to move the print head sideways.

  • Using force may permanently damage the print head.

Slowly remove paper. To remove paper, grasp it firmly and pull very slowly. If the paper tears, it can spread paper fibers that interfere with printing. Pulling too roughly can also cause injury, as even a powered-off printer may pinch or scrape your fingers.

  • Use tweezers to reach narrow areas. Pull even more slowly when using tweezers, and alternate tugging from the left and right ends of the paper.
  • Whenever possible, pull in the direction the paper would travel through the printer.
  • If there's no way to avoid tearing, grab the paper from both ends of the jam. Try to catch hold of all torn pieces.

Remove the print head and try again. If the paper is still stuck, follow the instructions for your printer model to remove the print head or the ink cartridges. Gently tug out torn paper scraps, or grasp intact crumpled paper with both hands and pull gently downward.

  • If you don't have your printer manual, search online for "manual" and the name of your printer model.

Check the output tray. On inkjet printers, paper sometimes gets stuck in mechanisms near the output tray. Look into the slot feeding the output tray and gently remove any visible paper.

  • Some models have a knob that will enlarge this slot, making removal easier.

Try further disassembly. If the printer still will not function, you can try taking it all apart to search for paper. Because there are many different models of printer, you should look for specific instructions in your user manual. Search online or contact the printer manufacturer if you do not have a manual.

  • Some models have a knob that will enlarge this slot, making removal easier.

How to Fix a Print Spooler

The print spooler helps your Windows computer interact with the printer, and orders the print jobs in your queue. If you see any error message about the print spooler, this tool has been corrupted or is failing to interact correctly with other software. You may need to try more than one method to fix the spooler.

Open your printer spooler properties. You can't solve all print spooler issues just by changing the options, but this is a quick and safe place to start. These methods should work on any version of Windows from XP onward (and may work on an earlier OS)

  • Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialogue. Type services.msc and press ↵ Enter.
  • Double-click Print Spooler. Alternatively, click Start → Control Panel → Administrative Tools → Services → Print Spooler

Stop and start the spooler. The Stop and Start buttons are located in the Print Spooler Properties window you just opened, on the General tab. Some errors are fixed by stopping, then starting the print spooler again. Leave the window open, as we have a couple other changes to make.

Set the Spooler to start up automatically. Select the drop-down menu following "Startup type." Select Automatic to ensure the spooler starts up each time your computer does, so it doesn't miss any incoming print jobs. Press Apply in the lower right to save your changes.[1]

Change the recovery options. Next, click on the Recovery tab. This controls how the spooler responds to its own errors. A few adjustments will maximize the chance of the spooler solving its own issues, and minimize the chance of it causing a crash. Change the settings to match the following:

  • First failure: Restart the Service
  • Second failure: Restart the Service
  • Subsequent failures: Take No Action
  • Reset fail count after: 1 days
  • Restart service after: 1 minutes
  • When you're finished, click Apply.

Forbid interaction with desktop. Click the Log On tab. If the box next to "Allow interaction with desktop" is checked, uncheck it.[3] Keeping this box checked can cause issues, and should not be necessary for any reasonably modern setup.[4] As always, click Apply.

Restart and try again. At this point, you can try printing again. You may need to close the Properties window and/or restart your computer before the changes take effect. If you still get an error message, continue on to the next step..