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Printer handling: what to do when things go wrong

If a printer isn't working the best thing to do is remove your job from the printer queue and send it to a different printer. Do not re-send the job, since that will merely cause the queue to build up and result in a large amount of wasted paper when the printer finally comes back on line.

Printer Messages

If you see a red light button blinking this usually means that the printer has a problem of some sort. Inspecting the error message will give you a clue about the origin of the problem. The most common problems are listed below.

Out of paper message (LOAD TRAY N PLAIN A4)

Refill the paper tray(s) making sure that all the new sheets are tucked below the metal restraints at the corners of the tray (if present). Make sure that the blue paper guides are snugly against the edges of the paper - they should both be pointing at A4. Adjust the green knob to centre the tension indicator (if present). Do not overfill the paper tray.

The printers take the same A4 paper as the photocopiers, so if there is no spare paper nearby you can fetch a box from a ground floor photocopying room.

N.B. If the printer is asking for a paper size other than A4, or keeps asking for paper even though you have filled its trays, email help@maths. This is usually a result of someone having submitted a job with an unusual page size. Pressing the "Go" or "OK" button will generally persuade the printer to print its job on A4 paper, although the result may look odd or have edges cut off.

Toner out/low message, or poor print quality

For DAMTP printers you can change empty toner yourself if you feel confident to. New toners are stored in the room BL.20. There are recycling boxes placed around the site e.g. one outside B0.25 and one in the photocopier area by the top floor common room, please place the old toner in one of these boxes. Otherwise, report the problem by sending email to help@maths. If you need to print in the meantime please use a different printer.

Toners are best kept in their packaging until ready for use. If you get stuck while changing a toner cartridge, please put it back in its box and email help@maths who will be happy to assist you.

N.B. Sometimes a printer starts flashing the message Toner Low while still managing to print. It does this until it displays "toner out"... There is no need to report it until the printer starts flashing its maintenance light or the printouts start to appear faint. At that point please e-mail help@maths (as the label on the printer should say), and a new toner cart will usually be fitted within a day. In the meantime you can use another printer. The printers seem to start warning about "low toner" when there is still about 25% left, replacing them at that point would cost a lot more than when they run out.

Paper jam error message

If in doubt, email help@maths, or ask another knowledgeable person to help. Open up the various hatches and remove any jammed paper taking care not to tear it (if you do the printer may need to be stripped down to remove the shreds). When all the hatches have been closed, it may be necessary to reset the printer by pressing Go on the panel.

If you still get a paper jam error and you are convinced that no paper is stuck in the printer, check the paper tray. Sometimes a pick error, when the paper does not feed into the printer, is the cause. Look for signs of damage to the front edge of the top sheet in the tray. Check that the blue paper guides are pointing to A4, as having them out of place can cause repeated paper jams. If necessary reload the tray as described above.

Queuing problems

Sometimes the software controlling the printer gets confused. If lpq returns a message like lw is ready and printing but nothing is coming out of the printer, e-mail help@maths explaining the problem.

Sometimes, confusingly, lpq might report your file is first in the queue for the printer, but it never prints, even though you know that the printer is working for other people. The reason for this is that the first stage of the queueing process (transferring the file over the network) is not working properly. Look for lpq messages reporting no daemon and report the problem to help@maths.

49.XX error

If the printer is displaying a 49.XX error, then it needs to be power cycled (that is turn it off, wait a couple of seconds and turn it back on again).

Printing from the Laptop Network

Resetting Printers

Use the online printer status web page to query the printer status, and if needed reset the printer. To do this

  • Goto the web page given above
  • Select the appropriate "Manage Print-Name" link and then see what the "Current CUPS queue status" is
  • If it shows disabled select "Authenticate via Raven" to enable the controls
  • Authenticating via Raven is sometimes enough to reset the printer, check if the printer got re-enabled by refreshing/reloading the web page and checking the "Current CUPS queue status" again
  • If the printer still needs resetting select the button labelled reset. As the printer is reset the web page will refresh with its system information, you can ignore this if you wish. Once the page stops being refreshed the "Current CUPS queue status" should show enabled, accepting jobs.

Note that although this takes care to minimise the risks of losing jobs, if a printer is reset while printing then the job may simply be lost.

Since you cannot easily tell remotely if a printer is processing a job be especially careful when resetting any printer which may be used by others -- especially people outside your research group.

If you are in any doubt about the state or serviceability of a Printer, please email