Color printers can print documents with vivid images by combining several different-colored inks. However, several issues can prevent them from printing in color.
A printer won’t print in color if it’s set to print only in grayscale or black and white. Color ink cartridges can also fail to spray ink if the print nozzle is dirty and clogged. Besides that, outdated drivers and software and non-genuine, third-party ink cartridges made from inferior materials can also prevent colored printing.
A printer that fails to print in color can be frustrating. Thankfully, the problem is pretty straightforward to diagnose and fix. This guide will show you what causes this problem and how you can fix it yourself.
Why Is My Printer Not Printing In Color?
A color printer should produce colored documents without any problems. But if you find that yours only prints in black and white or with faded colors, here are the troubleshooting steps you should take:
Printer Is Set To Grayscale Or Black And White
What it is: All printers come with accompanying software that you can use to customize their features. Among the many settings that are usually available, there are options for printing only in grayscale or black and white.
The device will only print documents using black ink when those settings are enabled. That’s regardless of if the device is a color printer or if the document has plenty of colors on it.
What happens: Your first troubleshooting step should be to check the printer’s settings. For example, if your device is not printing in color despite having enough color ink, the device is likely set not to use its colored ink.
As a result, anything you print will only come out in black, white, and gray colors.
How to fix it: You can solve this issue by entering the printer’s settings. Once there, disable any settings that relate to printing in black and white or grayscale.
Doing that will allow the printer to use whatever colors it has available to print your documents.
Printer Driver Or Software Is Outdated
What it is: All printers rely on software to communicate with computers and other devices. For example, all printers have drivers that allow computers to send information that the printer understands.
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Besides drivers, manufacturers also have print management software. These programs allow you to access the printer’s features quicker and monitor the device’s status and ink levels.
What happens: Printer drivers and software must be updated from time to time. That’s because outdated software might have errors that cause problems, like preventing the printer from printing in color.
If your printer is only printing in black and white despite having colored ink, the printer driver and software is likely outdated. As a result, the printer is malfunctioning instead of behaving as it should.
How to fix it: Updating your printer driver and other software is very straightforward. First, visit the manufacturer’s website and look for their Downloads page.
You can find the correct driver by searching based on your printer model number. Manufacturers make it very easy to find the software and drivers that you need to download.
Once you find the correct ones, download and install them to replace your current printer software.
Printer Cartridge Is Dirty
What it is: Ink printers work by moving ink cartridges over pieces of paper. As the cartridge moves to the correct position, its nozzle allows ink to spray onto the paper according to the document’s design.
That process happens quickly over several minutes to print each piece of paper that passes through your printer.
What happens: With lots of movement over an extended period, printer ink cartridges and similar parts can become dirty. That can prevent ink from flowing from the cartridge to the paper correctly.
More specifically, the color ink cartridges in your printer are likely dirty. As a result, the colored inks might not print onto the paper even though black ink (in a separate cartridge) prints without any problems.
How to fix it: You can solve this problem by cleaning the dirty printer cartridge, particularly the ‘printhead’ that sprays the colored ink out. There are two ways you can do that.
Firstly, you can instruct the printer to clean the cartridge automatically. You can do that by going through the printer’s settings through its app or by navigating its display if the printer has one.
The feature goes by many names but generally has a label like “Clean Print Head” or a similar label.
Alternatively, you can also clean the print head manually using a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water. Soak only the print head portion of the cartridge in the mix for 2 minutes to clear any blockages.
Then, remove the print cartridge and dab it against a paper towel to dry the print head. Finally, you can reinstall the cartridge in the printer and test it by printing a new color document.
Third-Party Or Non-Genuine Ink Cartridge
What it is: The market is full of printer ink cartridges made by third-party companies. The manufacturers that make these third-party ink cartridges insist that their products are compatible with your printer and can work normally, despite being much cheaper.
That compatibility, combined with lower prices makes them a very attractive option for many people, even if they’re not the best option for the printer.
What happens: Unfortunately, non-genuine color ink cartridges made by third-party manufacturers don’t always perform as they should. So, even if they work for a while, there’s a good chance that the cartridges are made using inferior and unreliable materials that break down after a while.
One likely outcome is that the colored ink cartridges fail to spray ink, leaving your color printer unable to print documents in color. Despite showing high ink levels, faulty ink cartridges can fail to distribute the ink as needed.
How to fix it: If your printer is using a third-party ink cartridge, the best thing you can do is replace them with genuine cartridges made specifically for your printer.
That way, you can rest assured that they’ll function correctly when you need to print colored documents.
Genuine cartridges cost a little more than third-party ones, but that extra cost comes with much more value. For one thing, you’re paying for added reliability in color ink cartridges that are designed for and tested with your printer brand and model specifically.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As you troubleshoot your printer, check out these frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you understand the device and its cartridges better:
Why Does My Computer Only Print In Black And White?
Your computer prints only in black and white because of its printer settings. For example, it might be set to print documents using only black and white ink or to print in ‘grayscale’, which uses different tones of black and white.
How Do I Know If My Printer Nozzle Is Clogged?
Printers these days have self-testing features for their printer nozzles. You can find the feature through the printer’s application or the printer’s control panel if it has one. By running the feature, the printer can tell you if its nozzle is clogged or not.
How Do You Unclog A Print Nozzle?
You can unclog a print nozzle automatically or manually. Firstly, your printer will have a feature to self-clean its print nozzles. However, you can also do it manually using a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water. First, soak the print nozzle in the alcohol for 2 minutes to clear the clog. Then, use a kitchen towel to dry the print nozzle.
What Does It Mean To Go Grayscale?
Printers have a ‘grayscale’ setting that allows them to print in shades of black and white. Even though it won’t print in color, the image is much clearer as it uses black ink to produce different shades of gray.
Can Color Printer Work With Only One Cartridge?
No, color printers will only work if they have all their cartridges. Typically, that means one black ink cartridge and one or more color cartridges.