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HP ENVY, DeskJet Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for the following printers:
Printer Model
HP ENVY 5530 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5536 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5531 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5539 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5532 e-All-in-One Printer
HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 4515 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5534 e-All-in-One Printer
HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 4518 e-All-in-One Printer
HP ENVY 5535 e-All-in-One Printer
The quality of a printed document or photo is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded printouts, color or black ink not printing, documents with blurred or fuzzy text, ink streaks or smears, and other print quality problems.
note:
Windows operating systems only: If you are experiencing garbled, jumbled or illogical text, incomplete printouts, or missing text or graphics, go to Continuous Pages of Strange or Garbled Characters Print in Windows.
Figure : Example of garbled, jumbled or illogical text, or an incomplete print job
Image: Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout

Step 1: Remove the black ink cartridge

If you just set up your printer and you notice that black ink is missing or faded on your printouts, remove the black ink cartridge and print only with the tri-color ink cartridge. This allows the printer to operate in single-cartridge mode, which creates composite black from the tri-color ink cartridge.
  1. Turn on the printer.
  2. Locate the slots on the left and right sides of the printer.
    Figure : Locate the slots on the sides of the printer
    Image: Locate the slots on the sides of the printer
  3. Slide your fingers into the two slots, and then gently lift up to open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
  5. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the black cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  7. Set the black cartridge aside, with the nozzles facing up.
    Figure : Cartridge with nozzles facing up
    Image: Cartridge with nozzles facing up
  8. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  9. Try the print job again.
    • If the printer operates correctly in single-cartridge mode, let the black cartridge rest with the nozzles facing up for several hours or overnight, reinstall it, and then try to print again. If you are satisfied with the print quality, you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the printer does not operate correctly in single-cartridge mode or you are not satisfied with the print quality after you reinstall the black cartridge, continue to the next solution.

Step 2: Use genuine HP ink cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP ink or toner supplies. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP or refilled cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP cartridges, the steps in this document might not resolve the issue. To check the authenticity of your cartridges, go to the HP anti-counterfeit webpage (in English).
Purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies from the HP Store or local retailers.
note:
Rough handling at the store or during installation can cause print quality problems with newly installed ink cartridges. If you see print problems with newly installed ink cartridges, wait for a few hours for the automatic servicing routine to complete, and then try to print again.
If using genuine HP ink cartridges did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Allow the printer to rest

Sometimes, print quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 30 minutes, and then try the print job again.
If allowing the printer to rest did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If it is not, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
  • Load the paper print side down in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, such as photo paper and envelopes. Usually, the smoother side is the "print side," and sometimes the non-print side has a logo of the paper manufacturer on it.
  • Do not use wrinkled or curled paper. Use only clean, wrinkle-free paper.
    Do not use wrinkled paper
  • Use the correct paper type for your project.
    • For everyday text documents, plain paper with ColorLok technology works well. Paper with ColorLok technology is industry-standard paper that works well with HP ink.
      ColorLok logo
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photos, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for best results.
    • Some paper might not absorb ink as well as others. If your prints smear easily, make sure you are using a recommended paper.
  • Store photo paper in its original packaging inside a resealable plastic bag. Store the paper on a flat surface in a cool, dry place. Load 10-20 sheets of photo paper only when you are ready to print, and then put the unused paper back in the packaging.
  • Try using a different paper. This determines if the problem is related to the paper.
note:
Inappropriate paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts (or, if the problem occurs on a copy, dirty scanner glass usually causes the issue). Do not replace cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in the printout
Figure : Horizontal streaks in printout
Illustration of horizontal streaks
Figure : Vertical streaks in printout
Illustration of vertical streaks
Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal streaks or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks.
Do not replace cartridges for vertical streaks in a printout. Instead, check the paper as described earlier in this document, or search for a document that covers this issue.
After checking the paper, try to print again. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 5: Check the print settings

Check the print settings to make sure they are appropriate for your print job.
After checking the print settings, try to print again. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 6: Check ink levels

Low ink levels can impact print quality. You can check ink levels in the printer control panel.
note:
Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low ink levels, consider having a replacement ink cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace ink cartridges until print quality becomes unacceptable.
From the home screen on the printer control panel, touch the Ink icon . The control panel displays the estimated ink levels.
Figure : Example of estimated ink levels
Image:  Example of estimated ink levels.
  • If the ink level graphic shows low or empty ink cartridges, and the quality of your printouts is unsatisfactory, continue to the next step and replace the ink cartridges now.
  • If the ink level graphic shows full ink cartridges, do not replace the ink cartridges yet. Skip to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostic report

Step 7: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges

Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
  1. Press the Power button to turn the printer on, if it is not already on.
  2. Open the scanner lid.
  3. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  5. Pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  6. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the pull tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Figure : Remove the plastic tape
    Image: Remove the plastic tape.
  7. Hold the cartridge at a slight upward angle with the cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the cartridge into the empty slot.
  8. Close the lid on the cartridge slot to secure the cartridge into place.
    note:
    Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Figure : Insert the cartridge
      Image: Insert the cartridge.
    1. Insert the cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color cartridge is on the left, and the black cartridge is on the right
  9. Repeat the previous steps to install the other cartridge, if necessary.
  10. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  11. Close the scanner lid.
  12. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the cartridges and prints an alignment page.
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 9: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic report for defects

Review the diagnostic areas of the Print Quality Diagnostic report to check for defects. Defects on the report can help you identify the print quality issue, and then troubleshoot it.
    Figure : Diagnostic areas of the Print Quality Diagnostic report
    Image: Diagnostic areas of the Print Quality Diagnostic report
  1. Sample text
  2. Alignment patterns
  3. Color bars
In general, if the printer and its ink cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be present, unstreaked, and uniform in color. The black text on the page should not show ink streaks.
Use the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the diagnostic report. The following examples are not all-inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report
Defect
Example
Large text is ragged on one end
Image: Ragged large text
Irregularly streaked or faded color bars
Image: Streaked or faded color bars
Ragged color bars
Image: Ragged color bars
Color bars are streaked with another color
Image: Streaked color bars
The color blocks have regular white streaks
Image: White streaks in the color bars
Completely missing color (example shows no black)
Image: Missing color (black)
Page is blank or nearly blank
Image: Nearly blank page
Jagged alignment patterns
Image: Jagged alignment patterns
  • If there were no defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, return to the step to check print settings.
  • If there were defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, continue to the next step.

Step 10: Clean the ink cartridges

If you found defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report, run an automatic tool to clean the ink cartridges.
note:
To avoid issues that require cleaning, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon .
  2. Touch Tools, and then touch Clean Printhead. The printer cleans the printhead, and then prints a test page.
  3. Check the print quality of the test page.
    • If the print quality is good, touch Done.
    • If the print quality is not good, touch Clean Again. The printer cleans the ink cartridges again, and then prints another test page.

Step 11: Align the printer

For the best print quality, align the ink cartridges.
  1. Load plain white paper in the paper tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon .
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch the Down Arrow once.
  4. Touch Align Printer.
    The printer prints a test page, and then prompts you to scan the page.
  5. Lift the scanner lid, and then place the page on the glass according to the instructions on the alignment page.
  6. Close the scanner lid, and then touch OK.
Print another Print Quality Diagnostic report, and examine the page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, you can stop troubleshooting.
  • If the Print Quality Diagnostic report shows track marks or smears, continue to the next step to clean the area around the ink nozzles.
  • If the Print Quality Diagnostic report does not show track marks or smears, skip to the step to replace the problem cartridge.

Step 12: Clean the area around the ink nozzles

Do not perform these steps unless the test page or printout specifically shows smeared text or track marks. Clean the area around the ink nozzles if you see track marks or smears on the printouts.
Figure : Example of smeared text
Image: Example of smeared text.
Figure : Example of text with track marks
Image: Example of text with track marks.
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Dry foam-rubber swabs, lint-free cloth, or any soft material that does not come apart or leave fibers (coffee filters work well)
    • Distilled, filtered, or bottled water (tap water might contain contaminants that can damage the ink cartridges)
        caution:
      Do not use platen cleaners or alcohol to clean the area. These can damage the ink cartridge or the printer.
  2. Make sure the printer is on.
  3. Open the scanner lid.
  4. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    The carriage moves to the ink cartridge access area.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  5. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
  6. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  7. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the ink cartridge
      Image: Remove the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
      caution:
    Do not remove both ink cartridges at the same time. Remove and clean each ink cartridge one at a time. Do not leave an ink cartridge outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.
  8. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
    Figure : Hold the ink cartridge by its sides
    Image: Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
  9. Inspect the ink cartridge contacts for ink and debris buildup.
      caution:
    Do not touch the copper-colored contacts or the ink nozzles. Touching these parts can result in clogs, ink failure, and bad electrical connections.
    Figure : Do not touch the contacts or nozzles
    Image: Do not touch the contacts or nozzles.
  10. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water, and then squeeze any excess water from it.
  11. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
      caution:
    Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
      Figure : Clean the area around the ink nozzle
      Image: The ink nozzle and ink cartridge contacts.
    1. Nozzle plate - Do not clean
    2. Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3. Ink cartridge contacts - Do not clean
  12. Either let the ink cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  13. Hold the ink cartridge at a slight upward angle with the ink cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the ink cartridge into the empty slot.
    Figure : Reinstall the ink cartridge
    Image: Reinstall the ink cartridge.
  14. Close the ink cartridge lid to secure the ink cartridge into place.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge lid
    Image: Close the ink cartridge lid.
  15. Repeat these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzle on the other ink cartridge.
  16. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the ink cartridge access door
    Image: Close the ink cartridge access door.
  17. Close the scanner lid.
  18. Try printing again.
If manually cleaning around the ink nozzles did not resolve the issue, continue to the next step.

Step 13: Replace the problem ink cartridge

Replace the problem ink cartridge if you saw defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report and the preceding steps did not resolve the issue, even if the ink cartridge is not low on ink. The problem ink cartridge is the one that printed the defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink or toner supplies, go to Printer and Page Yield Overview, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.
  1. Press the Power button to turn the printer on, if it is not already on.
  2. Open the scanner lid.
  3. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the cartridge access area. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before continuing.
    Figure : Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door.
  4. To release the cartridge, lift the lid on the cartridge slot, and then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  5. Pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Figure : Remove the cartridge
      Image: Remove the cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the cartridge
  6. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging, and then pull the pull tab to remove the plastic tape.
    Figure : Remove the plastic tape
    Image: Remove the plastic tape.
  7. Hold the cartridge at a slight upward angle with the cartridge contacts facing the rear of the printer, and then slide the cartridge into the empty slot.
  8. Close the lid on the cartridge slot to secure the cartridge into place.
    note:
    Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left. Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
      Figure : Insert the cartridge
      Image: Insert the cartridge.
    1. Insert the cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color cartridge is on the left, and the black cartridge is on the right
  9. Repeat the previous steps to install the other cartridge, if necessary.
  10. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure : Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  11. Close the scanner lid.
  12. Follow the instructions on the control panel to start the cartridge alignment. The printer aligns the cartridges and prints an alignment page.
Print another Print Quality Diagnostic report. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 14: Service the printer

If you have followed all the steps in this document and your printer is producing printouts with print quality issues, service the printer.
Service or replace your HP product if the issue persists after completing all the preceding steps.
Go to Contact HP Customer Support to schedule a product repair or replacement. If you are in Asia Pacific, you will be directed to a local service center in your area.
To confirm your warranty status, go to HP Product Warranty Check. Repair fees might apply for out-of-warranty products.
note:
Keep a print sample that shows the problem. If the ink cartridges, printhead, or printer is replaced under warranty, the support agent will request the print sample. If the printer is returned to HP, the print sample must be returned with the printer. Place the sample in the output tray when you package your printer for shipping.

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