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Colors or Black Are Incorrect or Missing When Printing or Copying

  • PrintPrint


This document covers the following printing or copying problems for all HP Officejet, Deskjet, Photosmart, PSC, Color Copier, Digital Copier, and Fax products that use inkjet technology:
  • The printout is missing one or all colors.
  • The printout is black-and-white instead of color.
  • The printout is in color, but the color is not correct.
The most common reason for missing or incorrect colors is a print cartridge with one of the following problems:
  • One or more of the ink colors is empty. The black ink and all three colors of ink in the tri-color cartridge must be available or colors will be incorrect or missing. Under normal usage, the print cartridge will run low on one color of ink shortly before all ink colors are emptied.
  • The protective tape is not removed from a new cartridge.
  • Contacts on the cartridge are not making proper contact with the print carriage.
  • The cartridge is remanufactured or refilled.
  • The cartridge is defective.
NOTE:If there is a cartridge-related error message on the front panel display of the all-in-one or on the computer screen, read HP document HP Inkjet Supplies - Print Cartridge Errors .
Begin troubleshooting by determining if the problem is within the HP product or a software problem (all-in-one products only).

Determining if the problem is cartridge related

Follow the steps below to determine whether the problem is caused by the cartridge.
  1. Verify that plain, white paper is loaded in the product. Replace any special or colored papers since these may affect the printed colors.
  2. Print or copy a picture containing large areas of red, green, and black.
    In the image below, the yellow ink is low so the green grass under the model airplane faded to blue. Under normal conditions, yellow is frequently the first color to be depleted. If the grass were yellow, the blue ink would be low. If the red ink is low, reds will not look correct or will be missing.
    Figure 1: Low yellow ink in printout
  3. Examine your printout:
    • If one of the colors changes or fades part way through a print job, the ink is too low to correctly produce the color. Replace the cartridge and then try this step again.
    • If a color is completely missing or if the printout looks correct, proceed to step 4.
  4. Print a self-test report from the all-in-one front panel to determine if the problem is with the all-in-one or is a software problem.
    If you do not know how to print a self-test page or what it should look like, review document Printing Self-Test Reports (bpu00734). Return to this document to continue troubleshooting by clicking Back .
    NOTE:If the self-test pages print correctly but there is a greenish tint to the black portions of the printout when printing on photo paper or other specialty papers, try setting the Paper Type setting to plain paper.
    A self-test report similar to those shown below will print. Your test page may look slightly different, but will include all three ink colors and black.
    Figure 2: Three examples of self-test pages

Review the results

Examine the self-test page, and then select the choice below that matches the results:
  • If black or any of the bars of the three ink colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow) are missing, faded, or streaked, the problem is cartridge related or within the HP product. In the example below, the yellow is completely missing in the top two test patterns and streaked in the third test pattern. Refer to the "The self-test report does not print correctly " section of this document to correct the problem.
  • If the self-test report has black, cyan, magenta, and yellow printed on it and they are not faded or streaked, the problem is software or settings related. Refer to the "Self-test page prints correctly (all-in-one products only) " section of this document.
    Figure 3: Close-up with missing and streaked yellow ink
    1 - Missing or faded yellow.

The self-test report does not print correctly

Follow the steps below to determine if the problem is the cartridges or the product.
The following HP all-in-one products have an Estimated Ink Levels window in the HP Toolbox.
HP Officejet modelsHP PSC modelsHP Photosmart modelsHP Deskjet models
HP Officejet G series

HP Officejet K series

HP Officejet V series

HP Officejet D series

HP Officejet 4100 series

HP Officejet 4210 series

HP Officejet 4250 series

HP Officejet 5100 series

HP Officejet 5500 series

HP Officejet 6100 series

HP Officejet 6200 series

HP Officejet 7100 series

HP Officejet 7300 series

HP Officejet 7400 series
HP PSC 700 series

HP PSC 900 series

HP PSC 1200 series

HP PSC 1300 series

HP PSC 2100 series

HP PSC 2170 series

HP PSC 2200 series

HP PSC 2300 series

HP PSC 2400 series

HP PSC 2500 series
HP Photosmart 2600 series

HP Photosmart 2700 series
HP Deskjet F4100 All-in-One series

HP Deskjet F2100 All-in-One series
  • If you have one of the all-in-one models listed in the table above and the HP software has been installed, check the estimated ink levels in the Printer Toolbox by following steps 1 and 2 below.
  • If you have a different HP product or the all-in-one software is not installed, skip to step 3.
The all-in-one counts the number of drops of ink that it sprays from the print cartridge. This is used to track the amount of ink used. If the all-in-one software is running, a low ink warning will be displayed when the print cartridge should be getting low on ink.
NOTE:The HP Officejet D and 7100 series use separate print heads and ink tanks. Running the ink tanks empty will damage the print heads or cause other problems. Always replace the ink tanks when the low ink message appears.
The ink levels displayed are estimated ink levels based on the drop counters. The ink cartridge may still be out of ink even if the level indicator shows that some ink should remain. Follow the steps below to check the estimated ink levels:
  1. In the HP Director software, click Settings , click Print Settings , and then click Printer Toolbox .
  2. In the Printer Toolbox, select the Estimated Ink Level tab. Replace any cartridge with one or more of the colors low or empty.
    If the ink levels are not low, proceed to step 3.
    Figure 4: Estimated ink levels
    1 - Low color ink
    2 - Ink levels OK
  3. Follow the steps below to check and clean the print cartridges and the print carriage:
    1. Turn on the power to the unit and open it to access the print cartridges. The power must be on to access the print cartridges because the print cartridges are locked in place by the capping station when the power is off. The capping station prevents the print cartridges from drying out while not in use.
    2. When the print cartridges can be accessed, without turning off the all-in-one with the On button, unplug the power cord from the all-in-one. This will prevent the cartridges from moving back to the capping station or being damaged.
    3. Remove the cartridge(s) from the carriage and inspect them for ink level (if possible).
      If the print cartridge is new,verify that the protective tape covering the nozzles has been removed. Do not remove the copper circuit with the electrical contact points.
      Figure 5: Removing the protective tape from a new print cartridge
    4. Clean the cartridge with a cotton swab or cloth lightly moistened with distilled, filtered, or bottled water. Tap water may contain contaminants that can damage the print cartridges.
    5. Clean the areas of the cartridge indicated in call-out 2 and call-out 3 below. Clean the nozzle plate, indicated by call-out 1 below, as a last resort to recover the cartridge. Remove any buildup from the bottom of the ink cartridge. Do not touch the nozzle plate with anything other than the cotton swab.
      Figure 6: Cleaning the cartridge
      1 - The nozzle plate
      2 - Areas to clean to remove buildup
      3 - Cartridge electrical contacts
    6. Clean and dry the electrical contacts on the ink cartridge with a dry soft clean cotton cloth.
      Figure 7: Cleaning and drying the electrical contacts
    7. Inside the HP all-in-one product, clean the cartridge contact points inside the print carriage (the ink cartridge holder) with a soft clean cloth or cotton swab. See the image below.
      CAUTION: To avoid damaging the HP product allow cartridge contact points to dry for at least five minutes before reinserting the cartridge(s) and verify that the contacts are free of any cotton or cloth fibers.
      Figure 8: Cleaning the contact points in the cartridge carriage
    8. After waiting five minutes to allow the carriage contacts to dry, reinsert the ink cartridges and then plug in the power cable.
  4. Follow the steps below to run the print cartridge cleaning utility to flush contaminants out of the print nozzles:
    For products with a Setup or Menu button on the front panel, access the cartridge cleaning utility by pressing this button. It may be listed in the Maintenance submenu.
    The HP Officejet 500 and 600 product families and HP PSC 300 series products have this feature in the Maintenance section of the Manager software.
    Repeat Steps 3 and 4, if necessary, to correct the problem. If the problem still exists after performing these steps twice, continue to step 5.
  5. If the black or color cartridge has been refilled, remanufactured, or is not an HP cartridge, replace it with a new HP cartridge. Refilled or remanufactured print cartridges frequently have nozzle clogging problems due to impurities in the ink and fail far more frequently than HP cartridges. HP cannot guarantee that refilled or non-HP cartridges will print correctly in HP products. Print quality is subject to the quality of the ink and cartridge.
  6. If all of the steps above have been followed and the problem remains, replace the print cartridge with a new HP print cartridge.
  7. If the problem has not been resolved after following all of the steps above, contact HP for assistance.

The self-test page prints correctly (all-in-one products only)

If the self-test page prints correctly, the problem is one of the following:
  • The wrong print driver has been installed or is in use.
  • The print driver is set to print in black and white only.
  • An image color matching profile needs to be selected.
  • There is a problem with the software program or software program settings.
Follow the steps below to correct the problem. Try printing after completing each step to see if the problem is resolved.

Step 1: Verify that the correct print driver is selected in the software program

If more than one printer driver is installed on the computer, verify that the correct print driver is selected in the software program:
  1. Open the software application and then open the file you want ot print.
  2. Click File and then click Print .
  3. In the Print box, select the all-in-one printer from the list of available printers, and then click Print .
If the page you are printing contains color, the page should print in color. If the page does not print with color, see "Step 5: Select a color management profile ."

Step 2: Restart the computer

The computer resources may be low. Restart the computer and then try printing again.

Step 3: Verify that the correct print driver is installed

The wrong print driver may have been installed. The HP Officejet driver that is available from the Add Printer Wizard in Windows is a black and white driver provided for the original HP Officejet only. This product was not capable of printing in color.
NOTE: Do not use the Add Printer Wizard or the Add New Hardware Wizard to install the HP all-in-one product software. They do not provide a successful installation and they might install the wrong driver. Consult the product documentation or HP Web site for assistance installing the driver properly.
To verify that the correct print driver is installed, complete the following steps:
  1. Click Start , click Settings , and then click Printers to open the Printers folder.
    If the printer list shows only "HP Officejet" instead of HP Officejet [model] series, then it is an incorrect driver. For example, the HP Officejet G series should have an icon that reads, "HP Officejet G series."
  2. If the driver is listed as only "HP Officejet," click the icon to select it and press Delete to delete the driver.
  3. Install the correct driver for the all-in-one. For most operating systems and products, the current drivers shipped with the product. If the software disks are not available, download the software from the HP all-in-one Web site or contact HP for assistance.
    Microsoft based mini-drivers are available in Windows 2000 and XP for many HP all-in-one models. These drivers will list the whole product model, such as HP Officejet R80, instead of just the series and may not support all of the possible functions of the all-in-one.

Step 4: Verify that the Print in Grayscale option is not selected

If all three colors and black are present on the test page and the correct driver is installed and selected, the Print in Grayscale option might be enabled.
NOTE: The HP PSC 1100, 1200, and 1300 series and Officejet 4100 series do not have this option. Proceed to step 5 if you have one of these all-in-one products.
Complete the following steps to verify this setting:
  1. Click Start , click Settings , and then click Printers .
  2. Right-click the printer driver for the all-in-one, and then click Properties .
  3. Depending on the driver installed, read the following options, and then complete the appropriate steps:
    • HP provided software: Select the Color , Advanced , Setup , or Quality tab (depending on the model and version of Windows). If a check appears next to Print in Grayscale, click the check to remove it. If this tab has an option for Color Smart or Color Smart II , select this option. Click OK to accept the change.
    • Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP mini-driver - If you are using a Windows mini-driver from the operating system, on the General tab, click Printing preferences . Click the Paper/Quality tab to view the Color Printing options.
Figure 9: The Print Properties Print in Grayscale section

Step 5: Select a color management profile

A color management file needs to be selected in Windows 98, Me, 2000, or XP before some software programs will print correctly. This is true of the imaging included with those operating systems. Complete the steps below:
  1. Click Start , click Settings , and then click Printers to open the Printers folder.
  2. In the Printers folder, right-click the HP all-in-one printer icon, and then click Properties .
  3. Click the Color Management tab.
  4. Click Add to see the list of available color profiles.
  5. In the Add Profile Association box, select Diamond Compatible 9300k G2.2.icm .
  6. Click Add and then click OK . Print the file again. If the software program does not print in color, use Microsoft Paint to print a document with colors.

Step 6: Determine if the problem is with the software application

Try printing from the Paint program by following the steps below:
  1. Click Start , click Programs (or click All Programs in Microsoft Windows XP), click Accessories , and then click Paint .
  2. In the Paint program, select the Paintbrush tool and the largest of the square brush tips.
  3. Draw black, red, light blue, and yellow lines in the working area by selecting the colors at the bottom.
  4. Click File and then click Print .
If the page prints correctly, the all-in-one is working correctly and there is some sort of problem with the software program you were originally trying to print from. Contact the manufacturer of the program for assistance.

Step 7: Remove and then reinstall the all-in-one software

e the HP software. The all-in-one product usually has an uninstall option. To check for this option, click Start , click Programs , and then click the appropriate all-in-one product.
If this option is not present, try using the Add/Remove Software tool in Windows. Reinstall the software following the directions provided with the product.
If the steps above do not correct the problem and a self-test page prints correctly, contact HP for assistance.

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