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HP Photosmart C4780 All-in-One Printer support

Fixing Ink Streaks, Faded Prints, and Other Common Print Quality Problems

  • PrintPrint
This document is for the HP Photosmart C4600 and C4700 All-in-One printers.
The quality of the printout or printed image is not as expected. The procedures in this document should help with streaked or faded prints, prints without black or other colors, prints with blurred or fuzzy text, prints with ink streaks or smears, and many other problems.
Follow these steps to resolve many print quality issues from a Windows computer.
NOTE:Some of the following solutions require the full HP software. If you did not install the full software when you installed your printer, click here to go to the software and drivers page , and then download and install the full feature software.

Solution one: Use genuine HP cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP cartridges. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP cartridges or refilled HP cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP cartridges, the following solutions might not resolve your print quality issue.
Which cartridges you use depends on your country or region. Follow these steps to purchase cartridges or check cartridge compatibility for your printer using HP SureSupply.
  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and make sure that the country or region location is correct.

Solution two: Allow the printer to rest

Sometimes, print-quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 40 minutes, and then try the print job again.

Solution three: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure that 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, 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 product.
    Figure 1: Do not use wrinkled paper
    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.
      Figure 2: Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing
    • 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 10-20 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 will determine 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 printout
Figure 3: Horizontal streaks in printout
Image: horizontal streaks
Figure 4: Vertical streaks in printout
Image: 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. Vertical streaks in copies can often be fixed by cleaning the scanner glass.
After trying the preceding guidelines, try to print again.

Solution four: Check the print settings

Follow these steps to check the print settings to make sure that they are appropriate for your print job.

Step 1: Check the print quality settings

The print settings could be causing some print quality issues. Follow these steps to change the print settings.
  1. Open the Print dialog box in the software program you are trying to print from.
    • Windows XP: Click File , and then click Print . The Print dialog box opens.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon ( ), move the cursor to Print , and then click Print . The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your product, and then click Properties . The printer Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Choose the correct tab to find the settings
    • Windows XP: Click the Printing Shortcuts tab, and then click the type of job you are trying to print.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Paper/Quality tab.
  4. Review the following options, and then make any necessary changes.
    • Paper sizes : Make sure that the selected option matches your paper size.
    • Paper type : If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select that option.
    • Print quality : If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your printouts, increase the print quality. To print more quickly, decrease the print quality.
  5. Click OK , and then click OK again to start the print job.

Step 2: Check the Print in Grayscale setting

The print settings could be causing some print quality issues. Follow these steps to change the print settings.
  1. Open the Print dialog box
    • Windows XP: Click File , and then click Print . The Print dialog box opens.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Windows icon ( ), move the cursor to Print , and then click Print . The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your product, and then click Properties . The printer Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Choose the correct tab to find the setting
    • Windows XP: Click the Features tab.
    • Windows Vista: Click the Color tab.
  4. Under Color Options , make sure that Print in grayscale is not selected.
  5. Click OK , and then click OK again to start the print job.

Solution five: Check the ink levels, and then replace any low or empty cartridges

Follow these steps to check the ink levels on your printer, and then replace low or empty cartridges.
Follow these steps to check the estimated ink levels using the HP Toolbox.
  1. Make sure the product is on and connected to the computer.
  2. Double-click the HP Digital Imaging Monitor ( ) on the Windows taskbar.
    HP Solution Center opens.
  3. In HP Solution Center , click Settings , and then click Printer Toolbox .
    The Printer Toolbox opens.
  4. Click the Estimated Ink Levels tab to view the current estimated ink levels for both cartridges.
    Figure 5: Estimated ink levels
NOTE:Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low-ink levels, consider having a replacement cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace cartridges until print quality becomes unacceptable.

Solution six: Print and evaluate a print quality diagnostic report and troubleshoot defects

Follow these steps to print, and then evaluate a print quality diagnostic report.

Step 1: Print a print quality diagnostic report

  1. Load Letter or A4, unused, plain white paper into the input tray.
  2. Touch the lower left corner of the control panel four times until Support Menu displays on the control panel, and then touch OK .
    NOTE:The OK button becomes visible when you access the Support Menu
    Figure 6: Touch lower left corner of the control panel
    Image: The control panel
    1 - Lower left corner of control panel
  3. Touch the menu button next to Support in the upper-right corner of the control panel ( ) until Reports Menu displays, and then touch OK .
  4. Touch the button in the upper-right corner of the control panel ( ) until PQ Diagnostic report displays, and then touch OK . The print quality diagnostic report prints.
    Figure 7: Example print quality diagnostic report
    Image: Print quality diagnostic report

Step 2: Determine which cartridges printed which areas of the print quality diagnostic report

Different cartridges print different areas of the print quality diagnostic report. Use the following guidelines to determine which cartridge printed which areas.
  • The black cartridge prints the black areas of the report, such as the black bars and black text.
  • The color cartridge prints the color areas of the report, such as the cyan (blue), magenta, and yellow color bars.
Figure 8: Which cartridges print which areas of the print quality diagnostic report
Image: the different parts of the print quality diagnostic report
1 - Printed by the black cartridge
2 - Printed by the color cartridge
3 - Printed by the color cartridge
Make a note of which cartridges printed which areas of the print quality diagnostic report, and then continue to the next step to troubleshoot defects on the report.

Step 3: Check the ink-level indicators

Examine the ink-level indicators in the middle of the page. The colored bars represent the ink levels in the corresponding cartridge. Full color bars represent high ink levels, while color bars that approach the left side of the bar represent low ink levels.
Example of ink-level indicators showing full cartridges Example of ink-level indicators showing cartridges with less ink
Image: full ink levelsImage: low ink levels
If the print quality diagnostic report shows low ink and you are dissatisfied with print quality, click here to go to instructions in this document for installing a replacement cartridge .

Step 4: Check the print quality diagnostic report for defects

In general, if the printer and its 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.
See the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the print quality diagnostic report. The following examples are not inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on the print quality diagnostic report
DefectExample
Irregularly streaked or faded color barsImage: streaked or faded color bars
Ragged color barsImage: ragged color bars
The color bars are streaked with another colorImage: streaked color bars
The color blocks are have consistent white streaksImage: white streaks in the color bars
Smeared large textImage: smeared text
Ragged large textImage: ragged text
Jagged large textImage: jagged text
Jagged alignment patternsImage: jagged alignment patterns
Completely missing colors (no black for instance)
Page is nearly or completely blank
  • If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report , the print mechanism and ink supplies work correctly. If printouts are still unsatisfactory, try these general print-quality guidelines, and then do not continue the troubleshooting steps in the remainder of this document:
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that have been enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the problem is confined to a band near the edge of a printout, use the software you installed with the printer, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the power button to turn the printer off. This protects the cartridges from exposure to air.
    Image: Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout (graphic)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 .
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report , continue to the next steps.

Step 5: Use an automated tool to align the printer

  1. Make sure you have plain paper loaded in the printer.
  2. Open HP Solution Center:
      1. Click Start .
      2. Click All Programs .
      3. Click HP .
      4. Click HP Solution Center .
      1. Click the Windows icon ( ).
      2. Click All Programs .
      3. Click HP .
      4. Click HP Solution Center .
    HP Solution Center opens in a new window.
  3. In HP Solution Center, click Settings ( ).
  4. In the Print Settings section, click Printer Toolbox . The printer Toolbox opens in a new window.
  5. Click Align the Print Cartridges ( ).
  6. Click Print Page . The printer prints an alignment page.
    Figure 9: printer prints an alignment page
    Image: the printer printing an alignment page
  7. Lift the printer lid.
  8. Place the alignment page on with the printed-side down on the right-front corner of the scanner glass. See the engraved guide next to the scanner glass for help loading the alignment page.
    Figure 10: Load the alignment page
    Image: loading the alignment page
  9. Lower the printer lid, and then press OK to complete the alignment.
  10. Wait while the printer scans the alignment sheet and completes the alignment process.

Step 6: Use an automated tool to clean the cartridges

Follow these steps to run an automated tool to clean the cartridges if you found defects on the print quality diagnostic report. Sometimes several cleanings are required. Repeat this cleaning if you see improvements in print quality.
NOTE:To avoid issues that require cleaning the printhead, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. Open HP Solution Center:
      1. Click Start .
      2. Click All Programs .
      3. Click HP .
      4. Click HP Solution Center .
      1. Click the Windows icon ( ).
      2. Click All Programs .
      3. Click HP .
      4. Click HP Solution Center .
    HP Solution Center opens in a new window.
  2. Click Settings ( ).
  3. In the Print Settings area, click Printer Toolbox . The printer Toolbox opens.
  4. On the Device Services tab, click Clean the Print Cartridge(s) ( ).
  5. Click Clean to begin the process.
    NOTE:Mechanical noises during the cleaning process are normal. A test page prints when the cleaning process finishes.

Step 7: Clean the area around the nozzles

You need to complete these steps only if you noticed track marks or smears in the text on the print quality diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
CAUTION:Do not perform these steps unless your print quality diagnostic report specifically shows smeared text or track marks. If your report does not show this defect, continue to the next solution.
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Dry foam-rubber swabs, lint-free cloth, or any soft material that will not come apart or leave fibers (coffee filters work well)
    • Clean sheets of paper
      CAUTION:Do not use platen cleaners or alcohol to clean the nozzle area. These can damage the cartridge or the printer.
  2. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  3. Open the front access door.
    Figure 11: Open the front access door
    Image: opening the front access door
  4. Wait for the carriage to move to the center of the printer.
  5. Press down on one of the cartridges to release it, and then pull it out from its slot.
    Figure 12: Remove the cartridge
    Image: removing the cartridge
    CAUTION:Do not remove both cartridges at the same time. Do not leave a cartridge outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.
    CAUTION:Do not touch the cartridge contacts or nozzles.
    Figure 13: Do not touch the contacts
    Image: Do not touch the cartridge contacts
  6. Set the cartridge on a piece of paper with the ink nozzles facing up.
  7. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water.
  8. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
    CAUTION:Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
    Figure 14: Clean the area around the ink nozzle
    Image: the ink nozzle and cartridge contacts
    1 - Nozzle plate - DO NOT CLEAN
    2 - Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3 - Cartridge contacts - Do not clean
  9. Either let the cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  10. Insert the cartridge into its designated slot. The black parallelogram icon ( ) designates the slot for the black cartridge, and the magenta half circle icon ( ) designates the slot for the color cartridge.
    Figure 15: Insert cartridge
    Image: inserting the cartridge
    The cartridge rests in its slot at a slight upward angle.
    Figure 16: Cartridge rests at upward angle
    Image: cartridge resting at upward angle
  11. Press the cartridge in to snap it into place.
    Figure 17: Snap cartridge into place
    Image: snapping the cartridge into place
  12. Repeat these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzle on the other cartridge.
  13. Close the front access door.
    Figure 18: Close the front access door
    Image: closing the front access door
  14. Try to print again.

Solution seven: Replace the problem cartridge

Follow these steps to replace the problem cartridge if you saw defects on the print quality diagnostic report and the preceding steps did not resolve the issue, even if the cartridge is not low on ink. The problem cartridge is the one that printed the defects on the print quality diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
These steps are only basic instructions for installing a new cartridge. If you prefer detailed steps, click here for step-by-step instructions on replacing the cartridges .
Important: To check if you can replace your ink supplies under warranty, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies , select your country/region, and then look for "ink supplies warranty."
  1. With the printer on, remove the old cartridge.
  2. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging.
  3. Remove the pink pull-tab from the new cartridge.
    CAUTION:Do not touch the copper-colored electrical contacts or the ink nozzles on the cartridge. Doing so can cause bad electrical connections, clogged ink nozzles, or poor print quality.
  4. Hold the cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the printer, and then slide the cartridge into its color-coded slot until it snaps into place. Make sure that the icon on the cartridge matches the icon on the slot.
    • Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left.
    • Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
  5. Follow the steps in "Step five" of this document to align the printer.

Solution eight: Service the printer

If the steps above have not solved the problem, see the steps at the end of this document to service the printer.
Follow these steps to resolve many print quality issues from a Mac.
NOTE:Some of the following solutions require the full HP software. If you did not install the full software when you installed your printer, click here to go to the software and drivers page , and then download and install the full feature software.

Solution one: Use genuine HP cartridges

HP recommends that you use genuine HP cartridges. HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of non-HP cartridges or refilled HP cartridges. If you do not use genuine HP cartridges, the following solutions might not resolve your print quality issue.
Which cartridges you use depends on your country or region. Follow these steps to purchase cartridges or check cartridge compatibility for your printer using HP SureSupply.
  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and make sure that the country or region location is correct.

Solution two: Allow the printer to rest

Sometimes, print-quality issues can be resolved during a period of inactivity. Consider waiting for about 40 minutes, and then try the print job again.

Solution three: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure that 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, 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 product.
    Figure 19: Do not use wrinkled paper
    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.
      Figure 20: Plain paper with ColorLok technology is recommended for text printing
    • 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 10-20 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 will determine 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 printout
Figure 21: Horizontal streaks in printout
Image: horizontal streaks
Figure 22: Vertical streaks in printout
Image: 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. Vertical streaks in copies can often be fixed by cleaning the scanner glass.
After trying the preceding guidelines, try to print again.

Solution four: Check the print settings

Follow these steps to check the print settings to make sure that they are appropriate for your print job.

Step 1: Check the print quality settings

The print settings could be causing some print quality issues. Follow these steps to change the print settings.
  1. Open a document, click File , and then click Print .
  2. Select the Paper Type/Quality or Media & Quality menu.
  3. Review the following options, and then make any necessary changes:
    • Paper type : If one of the options matches your paper type exactly, select that option.
    • Quality : If you are dissatisfied with the quality of your printouts, increase the print quality. To print more quickly, decrease the print quality.
NOTE: To save these settings for future print jobs, choose Save in the Presets menu, and then name the new preset. If multiple printers are installed, open System Preferences , and then click Print & Fax or Print & Scan (depending on your Mac OS X version). Set the Default Printer to Last Printer Used .

Step 2: Check the Print in Grayscale setting

The print settings could be causing some print quality issues. Follow these steps to change the print settings.
  1. Open a document, click File , and then Print .
  2. Select the Paper Type/Quality menu.
  3. Click the Color Options pop-up or tab if it displays. If you want color printouts, make sure that Grayscale is not selected. If the option does not display, it is not available for the printer.
NOTE: To save these settings for future print jobs, choose Save in the Presets menu, and then name the new preset. If multiple printers are installed, open System Preferences , and then click Print & Fax or Print & Scan (depending on your Mac OS X version). Set the Default Printer to Last Printer Used .

Solution five: Check the estimated ink levels, and then replace any low or empty cartridges

Follow these steps to check the ink levels on your printer, and then replace any low or empty cartridges.
  1. Make sure your printer is turned on and connected.
  2. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences .
  3. Click Print & Fax .
  4. Select the printer in the list on the left side of the dialog.
  5. Click Options and Supplies .
  6. Click the Utility tab at the top of the window, and then click Open Printer Utility .
  7. The HP Utility opens. Click Supplies Status to display estimated ink levels (features and options may vary depending on your printer model).
NOTE:Ink level warnings and indicators provide estimates for planning purposes only. When an indicator shows low-ink levels, consider having a replacement cartridge available to avoid possible printing delays. You do not need to replace cartridges until print quality becomes unacceptable.

Solution six: Print and evaluate a print quality diagnostic report and troubleshoot defects

Follow these steps to print, and then evaluate a print quality diagnostic report.

Step 1: Print a print quality diagnostic report

  1. Load Letter or A4, unused, plain white paper into the input tray.
  2. Touch the lower left corner of the control panel four times until Support Menu displays on the control panel, and then touch OK .
    NOTE:The OK button becomes visible when you access the Support Menu
    Figure 23: Touch lower left corner of the control panel
    Image: the control panel
    1 - Lower left corner of control panel
  3. Touch the menu button next to Support in the upper-right corner of the control panel ( ) until Reports Menu displays, and then touch OK .
  4. Touch the button in the upper-right corner of the control panel ( ) until PQ Diagnostic report displays, and then touch OK . The print quality diagnostic report prints.
    Figure 24: Example print quality diagnostic report
    Example print quality diagnostic report illustration

Step 2: Determine which cartridges printed which areas of the print quality diagnostic report

Different cartridges print different areas of the print quality diagnostic report. Use the following guidelines to determine which cartridge printed which areas.
  • The black cartridge prints the black areas of the report, such as the black bars and black text.
  • The color cartridge prints the color areas of the report, such as the cyan (blue), magenta, and yellow color bars.
Figure 25: Which cartridges print which areas of the print quality diagnostic report
Image: the different parts of the print quality diagnostic report
1 - Printed by the black cartridge
2 - Printed by the color cartridge
3 - Printed by the color cartridge
Make a note of which cartridges printed which areas of the print quality diagnostic report, and then continue to the next step to troubleshoot defects on the report.

Step 3: Check the ink-level indicators

Examine the ink-level indicators in the middle of the page. The colored bars represent the ink levels in the corresponding cartridge. Full color bars represent high ink levels, while color bars that approach the left side of the bar represent low ink levels.
Example of ink-level indicators showing full cartridges Example of ink-level indicators showing cartridges with less ink
Image: full ink levelsImage: low ink levels
If the print quality diagnostic report shows low ink and you are dissatisfied with print quality, click here to go to instructions in this document for installing a replacement cartridge .

Step 4: Check the print quality diagnostic report for defects

In general, if the printer and its 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.
See the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the print quality diagnostic report. The following examples are not inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
Examples of defects on the print quality diagnostic report
DefectExample
Irregularly streaked or faded color barsImage: streaked or faded color bars
Ragged color barsImage: ragged color bars
The color bars are streaked with another colorImage: streaked color bars
The color blocks are have consistent white streaksImage: white streaks in the color bars
Smeared large textImage: smeared text
Ragged large textImage: ragged text
Jagged large textImage: jagged text
Jagged alignment patternsImage: jagged alignment patterns
Completely missing colors (no black for instance)
Page is nearly or completely blank
  • If you see no defects on the print quality diagnostic report , the print mechanism and ink supplies work correctly. If printouts are still unsatisfactory, try these general print-quality guidelines, and then do not continue the troubleshooting steps in the remainder of this document:
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that have been enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the problem is confined to a band near the edge of a printout, use the software you installed with the printer, or another software program to rotate the image 180°. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the power button to turn the printer off. This protects the cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report , continue to the next steps.

Step 5: Use an automated tool to align the printer

  1. Make sure your printer is on and connected, and unused, plain paper is loaded.
  2. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences .
  3. Click Print & Fax .
  4. Select the printer in the list on the left side of the dialog.
  5. Click Options and Supplies .
  6. Click the Utility tab at the top of the window, and then click Open Printer Utility .
  7. The HP Utility opens. Click Align (features and options may vary depending on your printer model). The printer prints an alignment page.
    Figure 26: printer prints an alignment page
    Image: the printer printing an alignment page
  8. Lift the printer lid.
  9. Place the alignment page on with the printed-side down on the right-front corner of the scanner glass. See the engraved guide next to the scanner glass for help loading the alignment page.
    Figure 27: Load the alignment page
    Image: loading the alignment page
  10. Lower the printer lid, and then press OK to complete the alignment.
  11. Wait while the printer scans the alignment sheet and completes the alignment process.

Step 6: Use an automated tool to clean the cartridges

Follow these steps to run an automated tool to clean the cartridges if you found defects on the print quality diagnostic report. Sometimes several cleanings are required. Repeat this cleaning if you see improvements in print quality.
NOTE:To avoid issues that require cleaning the printhead, always turn the printer off with the Power button.
  1. Make sure your printer is turned on and connected.
  2. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences .
  3. Click Print & Fax .
  4. Select the printer in the list on the left side of the dialog.
  5. Click Options and Supplies .
  6. Click the Utility tab at the top of the window, and then click Open Printer Utility .
  7. The HP Utility opens. Click Clean Cartridges (features and options may vary depending on your printer model).
NOTE:Mechanical noises during the cleaning process are normal. A test page prints when the cleaning process finishes.

Step 7: Clean the area around the nozzles

You need to complete these steps only if you noticed track marks or smears in the text on the print quality diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
CAUTION:Do not perform these steps unless your print quality diagnostic report specifically shows smeared text or track marks. If your report does not show this defect, continue to the next solution.
  1. Gather the following materials:
    • Dry foam-rubber swabs, lint-free cloth, or any soft material that will not come apart or leave fibers (coffee filters work well)
    • Clean sheets of paper
      CAUTION:Do not use platen cleaners or alcohol to clean the nozzle area. These can damage the cartridge or the printer.
  2. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already on.
  3. Open the front access door.
    Figure 28: Open the front access door
    Image: opening the front access door
  4. Wait for the carriage to move to the center of the printer.
  5. Press down on one of the cartridges to release it, and then pull it out from its slot.
    Figure 29: Remove the cartridge
    Image: removing the cartridge
    CAUTION:Do not remove both cartridges at the same time. Do not leave a cartridge outside the printer for more than 30 minutes.
    CAUTION:Do not touch the cartridge contacts or nozzles.
    Figure 30: Do not touch the contacts
    Image: Do not touch the cartridge contacts
  6. Set the cartridge on a piece of paper with the ink nozzles facing up.
  7. Lightly moisten a clean, foam-rubber swab with distilled water.
  8. Clean the face and edges around the ink nozzle with the swab.
    CAUTION:Do not clean the ink nozzle plate.
    Figure 31: Clean the area around the ink nozzle
    Image: the ink nozzle and cartridge contacts
    1 - Nozzle plate - DO NOT CLEAN
    2 - Area surrounding ink nozzle - Do clean
    3 - Cartridge contacts - Do not clean
  9. Either let the cartridge sit for 10 minutes to allow the cleaned area to dry, or use a new swab to dry it.
  10. Insert the cartridge into its designated slot. The black parallelogram icon ( ) designates the slot for the black cartridge, and the magenta half circle icon ( ) designates the slot for the color cartridge.
    Figure 32: Insert cartridge
    Image: inserting the cartridge
    The cartridge rests in its slot at a slight upward angle.
    Figure 33: Cartridge rests at upward angle
    Image: cartridge resting at upward angle
  11. Press the cartridge in to snap it into place.
    Figure 34: Snap cartridge into place
    Image: snapping the cartridge into place
  12. Repeat these steps to clean the area surrounding the ink nozzle on the other cartridge.
  13. Close the front access door.
    Figure 35: Close the front access door
    Image: closing the front access door
  14. Try to print again.

Solution seven: Replace the problem cartridge

Follow these steps to replace the problem cartridge if you saw defects on the print quality diagnostic report and the preceding steps did not resolve the issue, even if the cartridge is not low on ink. The problem cartridge is the one that printed the defects on the print quality diagnostic report as described earlier in this document.
These steps are only basic instructions for installing a new cartridge. If you prefer detailed steps, click here for step-by-step instructions on replacing the cartridges .
Important: To check if you can replace your ink supplies under warranty, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies , select your country/region, and then look for "ink supplies warranty."
  1. With the printer on, remove the old cartridge.
  2. Remove the new cartridge from its packaging.
  3. Remove the pink pull-tab from the new cartridge.
    CAUTION:Do not touch the copper-colored electrical contacts or the ink nozzles on the cartridge. Doing so can cause bad electrical connections, clogged ink nozzles, or poor print quality.
  4. Hold the cartridge by its sides with the nozzles toward the printer, and then slide the cartridge into its color-coded slot until it snaps into place. Make sure that the icon on the cartridge matches the icon on the slot.
    • Insert the color cartridge in the slot on the left.
    • Insert the black cartridge in the slot on the right.
  5. Follow the steps in "Step five" of this document to align the printer.

Solution eight: Service the printer

If the steps above have not solved the problem, see the steps at the end of this document to service the printer.

Service the printer

If you have completed all the preceding steps and are still experiencing a problem, service the product.
Determine if your product is in warranty or out of warranty. If you need help determining your product’s warranty status, go to HP’s Warranty Check Tool .
  • If your product is in warranty , contact HP.
  • If your product is out of warranty , fees might apply for contacting HP.
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.
HP Photosmart C4780 All-in-One Printer

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