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HP Printers - Black or Color Ink Not Printing, Other Print Quality Issues

This document is for HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 4535, 4536, 4538, 4675, 4676, 4678, ENVY 4511, 4512, 4513, 4516, 4520, 4521, 4522, 4523, 4524, 4525, 4526, 4527, 4528, OfficeJet 4650, 4652, 4654, 4655, 4656, 4657, and 4658 All-in-One printers.
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:
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.

Step 1: Reinstall the print driver (Windows only)

If you cannot print color from a Windows computer, uninstall and reinstall the printer software. Skip this step if your printer is able to print in color.
  1. Remove the printer from the devices list.
    For steps on removing the printer from the devices list, go to Uninstalling the Printer Software (Windows).
  2. Go to HP Customer Support - Software and Driver Downloads, and then install the latest software for your printer.
Try to print. If these steps resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.

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).
HP ENVY 4511, 4512, 4513, 4516, 4520, 4521, 4522, 4523, 4524, 4525, 4526, 4527, 4528, OfficeJet 4650, 4652, 4654, 4655, 4656, 4657, and 4658
Ink cartridge description
North America, Asia Pacific (excluding China, India, and Indonesia)
Western Europe
Africa, CIS, Latin America, and Middle East
China, India, and Indonesia
Black ink cartridge
HP 63 Black 
HP 63XL Black 
HP 302 Black 
HP 302XL Black 
HP 123 Black
HP 123XL Black
HP 803 Black
HP 803XL Black
Color ink cartridge
HP 63 Tri-color
HP 63XL Tri-color
HP 302 Tri-color
HP 302XL Tri-color
HP 123 Tri-color
HP 123XL Tri-color
HP 803 Tri-color
HP 803XL Tri-color
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 4535, 4536, 4538, 4675, 4676, and 4678
Ink cartridge description
Latin America
Asia Pacific
Europe, Middle East, and Africa
Black ink cartridge
HP 664 Black
HP 664XL Black
HP 680 Black 
HP 652 Black
Color ink cartridge
HP 664 Tri-color
HP 664XL Tri-color
HP 680 Tri-color
HP 652 Tri-color
Purchase replacement cartridges and other supplies from the HP Store or local retailers.
If you are using genuine HP ink cartridges and the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step to check for ink smears on the back of printouts.

Step 3: Check for ink smears on the back of printouts

If there are smears of ink on the back of your printouts, you can use an automated tool to resolve the issue.
  1. Make sure the printer is loaded with plain white paper.
  2. On the printer control panel, swipe the display to the left, and then touch Setup.
  3. Touch Tools.
  4. Swipe up on the display, and then touch Clean Page Smears.
    The printer slowly feeds a blank page.
  5. Wait for the printer to eject the blank page.
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step to make sure you are using the appropriate paper for your print job.

Step 4: Make sure you are using the appropriate paper for your print job

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.
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 in your operating system to make sure they are appropriate for your print job.
note:
Print settings vary by operating system and software program.
After checking the print settings, try to print again. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 6: Check the estimated ink levels

Low ink levels can affect print quality. Check the estimated ink levels from 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.
On the printer control panel, touch the Ink icon to display the current estimated ink levels.
Image:  Example of estimated ink levels displaying full ink cartridges.
  • If none of the ink cartridges are low on ink, you do not need to replace them yet. Skip to the step to print a Print Quality Diagnostic report.
  • If any of the ink cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step to replace the ink cartridge.

Step 7: Replace any low or empty ink cartridges

Replace any low or empty ink cartridges, and then try to print again.
  1. Turn on the printer.
  2. Make sure to load the printer with plain, white paper.
  3. Gently grasp the handles on either side of the printer, then raise the ink cartridge access door until it locks into place.
    The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Image: Opening the ink cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you proceed.
  5. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Removing the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  7. Remove one of the new ink cartridges from its package. Be careful to only touch the black plastic on the ink cartridge.
  8. Remove the plastic tape from the ink cartridge.
      caution:
    Do not touch the copper-colored contacts or the ink nozzles. Do not replace the protective tape on the contacts. Handling these parts can result in clogs, ink failure, and bad electrical connections.
    Image: Removing the plastic tape
  9. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the printer, then slide the ink cartridge forward into the slot.
  10. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
      Image: Inserting the ink cartridges
    1. Insert the ink cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color ink cartridge is on the left, and the black ink cartridge is on the right
  11. Repeat the previous steps to install the other ink cartridge, if needed.
  12. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    After you install new ink cartridges, the printer automatically prints an alignment page.
    Image: Closing the ink cartridge access door.
  13. Wait for the alignment page to fully eject from the printer.
    note:
    Before a print job, the printer automatically extends the output tray extender. Do not push in the output tray extender until the print job is complete.
  14. Lift the scanner lid.
  15. Place the alignment page with the print side down on the scanner glass. Position it according to the engraved guides around the glass.
    Image: Placing the alignment page on the scanner glass
  16. Close the scanner lid, then touch OK.
    The printer aligns the ink cartridges.
If replacing the ink cartridges resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.
Continue to the next step to examine the color blocks on the Print Quality Diagnostic report.

Step 9: Examine the color blocks for defects

Examine the color blocks on the Print Quality Diagnostic report to make sure the color blocks do not show white lines and are not faded or missing.
Image: Example of the color blocks without defects.
  • If the color blocks do not show white lines and are not faded or missing, skip to the step to check the alignment lines.
  • If any of the color blocks show white lines, are faded, or are missing completely, continue to the next step to clean the ink cartridges.

Step 10: Clean the ink cartridges

Cleaning the ink cartridges can improve print quality. Clean the ink cartridges from the printer control panel, then evaluate the results.
note:
To avoid issues that require cleaning, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. Make sure to load the input tray with plain, white paper.
  2. On the printer control panel, swipe the display to the left, then touch Setup.
  3. Touch Tools, then touch Clean Cartridges.
    The printer prints a Print Quality Diagnostic report.
    Image: Example of the Print Quality Diagnostic report
  4. Examine the print quality on the Print Quality Diagnostic report.
    • If the print quality is acceptable, click No. You can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the print quality is unacceptable, click Yes when prompted to perform the next level of cleaning.
    note:
    If the printhead is badly clogged, it might require another cleaning cycle. If so, wait 30 minutes before you perform both levels of cleaning again.
Continue to the next step to examine the alignment lines and green color block on the Print Quality Diagnostic report.

Step 11: Examine the alignment lines and green color block for defects

Examine the alignment lines and green color block on the Print Quality Diagnostic report. Make sure the lines are straight and connected and that there are no dark lines or white gaps in the green color block.
Image: Example of the alignment  lines without any defects
Image: Example of the green color block without any defects
  • If you see no defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic report, the print mechanism and ink cartridges are working correctly. If print quality is still not satisfactory, try these general print-quality guidelines. You do not need to continue the troubleshooting steps in this document.
    • Make sure the image you are printing has a high enough resolution. Images that have been enlarged might display fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the problem is near the edge of a printout, use the print settings to rotate the image 180 degrees. The problem might not display on the other end of the printout.
    • Do not leave unprotected ink cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the power button to turn off the printer. This protects the ink cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If any of the alignment lines are not straight and connected, or the green color block has dark lines or white gaps, continue to the next step to align the printer.

Step 12: Align the printer

Aligning the ink cartridges correctly aligns the printhead with the printer. Align the printer from the printer control panel, then evaluate the results.
  1. Make sure to load the input tray with plain, white paper.
  2. On the printer control panel, swipe the display to the left, and then touch Setup.
  3. Touch Tools.
  4. Swipe up on the display, then touch Align Printer.
    An alignment page prints.
  5. Wait for the alignment page to fully eject from the printer.
    note:
    Before a print job, the printer automatically extends the output tray extender. Do not push in the output tray extender until the print job is complete.
  6. Lift the scanner lid.
  7. Place the alignment page with the print side down on the scanner glass. Position it according to the engraved guides around the glass.
    Image: Placing the alignment page on the scanner glass
  8. Close the scanner lid, then touch OK
    The printer aligns the ink cartridges.
  9. Try to print again.
    • If these steps resolved the issue, you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the printout shows track marks or smears, continue to the next step to manually clean the area around the ink nozzles.
    • If these steps did not resolve the issue, and the printout does not show track marks or smears, skip to the step to replace the problem ink cartridge.

Step 13: Manually clean the area around the ink nozzles

Do not perform these steps unless the 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.
Image: Example of smeared text
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 ink cartridge contacts. These can damage the ink cartridge or the printer.
  2. Turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  3. Gently grasp the handles on either side of the printer, then raise the ink cartridge access door until it locks into place.
    The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Image: Opening the ink cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you continue.
  5. Disconnect the power cord from the rear of the printer.
  6. Disconnect the USB cable, if it is connected.
  7. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  8. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      caution:
    Do not remove both ink cartridges at the same time. Remove and then clean each ink cartridge one at a time. Do not leave an ink cartridge outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.
      Image: Removing the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  9. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
    Image: Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
      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.
    Image: Do not touch the contacts or nozzles.
  10. Lightly moisten a foam-rubber swab or lint-free cloth 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.
      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 by its sides with the nozzles toward the printer, then slide the ink cartridge forward into the slot.
  14. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
      Image: Inserting the ink cartridges
    1. Insert the ink cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color ink cartridge is on the left, and the black ink cartridge is on the right
  15. Repeat these steps to clean, then reinsert the other ink cartridge.
  16. Close the ink cartridge access door.
  17. Reconnect the power cord to the rear of the printer.
  18. Turn on the printer, if it does not turn on automatically.
  19. Try to print again, and examine the page.
    If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 14: Replace the problem ink cartridge

Replace the problem ink cartridge if you saw defects on the printout 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. Turn on the printer.
  2. Make sure to load the printer with plain, white paper.
  3. Gently grasp the handles on either side of the printer, then raise the ink cartridge access door until it locks into place.
    The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Image: Opening the ink cartridge access door.
  4. Wait until the carriage is idle and silent before you proceed.
  5. To release the ink cartridge, lift the lid on the ink cartridge slot, then gently push the lid back until it stops.
  6. Pull up on the ink cartridge to remove it from the slot.
      Image: Removing the ink cartridge.
    1. Lift the lid
    2. Gently push the lid back
    3. Pull up on the ink cartridge
  7. Remove one of the new ink cartridges from its package. Be careful to only touch the black plastic on the ink cartridge.
  8. Remove the plastic tape from the ink cartridge.
      caution:
    Do not touch the copper-colored contacts or the ink nozzles. Do not replace the protective tape on the contacts. Handling these parts can result in clogs, ink failure, and bad electrical connections.
    Image: Removing the plastic tape
  9. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the printer, then slide the ink cartridge forward into the slot.
  10. Close the lid on the ink cartridge slot to secure the ink cartridge into place.
      Image: Inserting the ink cartridges
    1. Insert the ink cartridge
    2. Close the lid
    3. The color ink cartridge is on the left, and the black ink cartridge is on the right
  11. Repeat the previous steps to install the other ink cartridge, if needed.
  12. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    After you install new ink cartridges, the printer automatically prints an alignment page.
    Image: Closing the ink cartridge access door.
  13. Wait for the alignment page to fully eject from the printer.
    note:
    Before a print job, the printer automatically extends the output tray extender. Do not push in the output tray extender until the print job is complete.
  14. Lift the scanner lid.
  15. Place the alignment page with the print side down on the scanner glass. Position it according to the engraved guides around the glass.
    Image: Placing the alignment page on the scanner glass
  16. Close the scanner lid, then touch OK.
    The printer aligns the ink cartridges.
Try the original print job again. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step to service the printer.

Step 15: 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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