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HP DeskJet 3700 Printers - Fixing Poor Print Quality

This document is for the following HP printers:
HP DeskJet 3720 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3721 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3722 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3730 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3732 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3733 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3735 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3750 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3752 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3755 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3758 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3760 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3762 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet 3764 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3775 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3776 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3778 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3785 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3786 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3787 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3788 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3789 All-in-One Printer
HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 3790 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.

Step 1: 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 installing genuine HP ink cartridges resolved the issue, you do not need to continue troubleshooting.

Step 2: 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. Clean ink smears using the printer software.
After cleaning ink smears, try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 3: Make sure you are using the appropriate paper for your print job

Using incorrect paper for the print job might cause warping, lines, or streaks. Refer to the following guidelines to make sure the paper you are using is appropriate. If it is not, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
note:
To purchase paper in the United States and Canada, go to HP Home & Home Office.
  • Load the paper print side up in the input tray. Many papers have printing and nonprinting sides, like photo paper and other special media. 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. Load only clean, wrinkle-free paper into the printer.
    Image: 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.
    • For documents with dense printing, such as high contrast graphics or photographs, use HP Advanced Photo Paper for the best results.
    • Some media may 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 10-15 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.
Try to print again. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Check the print settings

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

Step 5: Check the estimated ink levels

Low ink levels can impact print quality. Read a section that matches your operating system for the steps to check estimated ink levels using the HP software.
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.
  • 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 page.
  • If any of the ink cartridges are low on ink, continue to the next step.

Step 6: 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. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    Opening the ink cartridge access door
  3. Wait until the carriage stops moving before you continue.
  4. Gently press down on the ink cartridge to release it, and then pull the ink cartridge out of its slot.
    Removing the ink cartridge
  5. Remove the new ink cartridge from its package. Be careful to only touch the black plastic on the ink cartridge.
    Removing the ink cartridge from its package
  6. 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.
    Removing the plastic tape
  7. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides with the contacts toward the printer, insert the ink cartridge into its slot, and then gently push the ink cartridge until it snaps into place.
    note:
    Install the color ink cartridge on the left and the black ink cartridge on the right.
    Snapping the ink  cartridge into place
  8. Repeat these steps for the other ink cartridge, if necessary.
  9. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Closing the ink cartridge access door
Continue to the next step to align the ink cartridges.

Step 7: Align the ink cartridges

Align the ink cartridges using the printer software.
note:
If you don't have the HP Printer Assistant software, go to Getting HP Printer Drivers and Updates to find and download your printer software.
After replacing any low or empty ink cartridges, try to print again. If the issue persists, continue to the next step.

Step 9: Examine the color blocks for defects

Examine the color blocks on the Print Quality Diagnostic page to make sure the color blocks do not show white lines, and are not faded or missing.
Figure : Color blocks without defects
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.

Step 10: Clean the ink cartridges

Clean the ink cartridges using the HP software, and then evaluate the results.
note:
To avoid issues that require cleaning, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

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 page. Make sure the lines are straight and connected and there are no dark lines or white gaps in the green color block.
Figure : Alignment lines without any defects
Alignment  lines without any defects
Figure : Green color block without any defects
 Green color block without any defects
  • If you see no defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic page, 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 appear 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 appear 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 the printer off. 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.

Step 12: Align the printer

Align the ink cartridges using the printer software.
After aligning the ink cartridges, try to print. If the error persists, continue to the next step.

Step 13: Manually clean the area around the ink nozzles

Do not perform these steps unless the Print Quality Diagnostic page or printout specifically shows smeared text or track marks. If you do not see track marks or smears, skip to the step to replace the problem ink cartridge.
If you see track marks or smears on the printouts, clean the area around the ink nozzles.
Figure : Example of smeared text
 Example of smeared text
Figure : Example of text with track marks
 Example of text with track marks
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • A clean, lint-free cloth or a clean, dry cotton swab
    • Distilled or bottled water
        caution:
      Do not use tap water because it might contain contaminants that can damage the printhead.
  2. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    The carriage moves to the center of the printer.
    Figure : Opening the ink cartridge access door
    Opening the ink cartridge access door
  3. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before you continue.
  4. Lightly press down on one of the ink cartridges to release it, and then pull the ink cartridge toward you out of its slot.
    Figure : Removing the ink cartridge
    Pressing down to remove the ink cartridge
      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.
  5. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides.
    Figure : Holding the ink cartridge by its sides
    Holding the ink cartridge by its sides.
  6. Lightly dampen a clean, lint-free cloth or swab with bottled or distilled water.
  7. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the cloth or swab.
      caution:
    Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
      Figure : Cleaning the area around the ink nozzle
      Cleaning the area around the ink nozzle
    1. Nozzle plate - Do not clean
    2. Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3. Ink cartridge contacts - Do not clean
  8. Wait 10 minutes for the cleaned area to dry before you continue.
  9. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides with the contacts toward the printer, insert the ink cartridge into its slot, and then gently push the ink cartridge until it snaps into place.
    Figure : Snapping the ink cartridge into place
    Snapping the ink  cartridge into place
  10. Repeat these steps to clean around the nozzles on the other ink cartridge.
  11. Close the ink cartridge access door.
Try to print. 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 Print Quality Diagnostic page 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 page 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. Open the ink cartridge access door.
    Opening the ink cartridge access door
  3. Wait until the carriage stops moving before you continue.
  4. Gently press down on the ink cartridge to release it, and then pull the ink cartridge out of its slot.
    Removing the ink cartridge
  5. Remove the new ink cartridge from its package. Be careful to only touch the black plastic on the ink cartridge.
    Removing the ink cartridge from its package
  6. 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.
    Removing the plastic tape
  7. Hold the ink cartridge by its sides with the contacts toward the printer, insert the ink cartridge into its slot, and then gently push the ink cartridge until it snaps into place.
    note:
    Install the color ink cartridge on the left and the black ink cartridge on the right.
    Snapping the ink  cartridge into place
  8. Repeat these steps for the other ink cartridge, if necessary.
  9. Close the ink cartridge access door.
    Closing the ink cartridge access door
Continue to the next step to align the ink cartridges.

Step 15: Align the printer

Align the ink cartridges using the printer software.
Try to print. If the print quality is unacceptable, continue to the next step.

Step 16: 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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