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HP Photosmart 5520 e-All-in-One Printer support

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

  • PrintPrint

Issue

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.
Try the following solutions in the order presented to resolve the issue. When one of the solutions resolves the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting.

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 might depend on your country/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/region location is correct.
NOTE:For the United States only, go to the HP Home & Home Office Store .
Genuine HP cartridges can also be purchased from other retailers.

Solution two: Allow automatic servicing to complete

Your HP printer has an automatic servicing routine that can solve many print quality issues. There is nothing you need to do. The print quality should improve a few hours after you experience the issue.
If you cannot wait for the automatic servicing routine to complete, continue with the following troubleshooting steps.

Solution three: Check the paper

Follow these guidelines to make sure that the paper you are using is appropriate for the print job. If the paper is not appropriate, reload the printer with an appropriate paper type.
NOTE:To learn the types of paper your printer supports, see the specifications for your printer.
  • 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:The incorrect type of paper usually causes vertical streaks in printouts. If the problem occurs on a copy, dirty scanner glass is usually the cause of the issue. Do not replace cartridges to fix vertical streaks.
Examples of horizontal streaks and vertical streaks in the 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.
After trying the preceding guidelines, try printing the document again.

Solution four: Check the print settings

Follow these steps to change the print properties in Windows.
NOTE:If you are not using the latest version of Windows 8, the information in this document might not match. You can get the latest version from the Microsoft Store.
  1. In the software program you are trying to print from, click File, and then click Print. The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your product, and then click Properties. The printer Properties dialog box opens.
  3. Click the Paper/Quality tab.
  4. From the Paper Size drop-down list, select the option that matches your paper size. For example, if you have legal paper loaded in your product, select Legal 8.5x14in.
  5. From the Media drop-down list, select the paper type that matches the paper loaded in the product.
  6. Click the Advanced button. The Advanced Options dialog box opens.
  7. Under Document Options, make sure that Print in Grayscale is set to Off, unless you want to print in Grayscale intentionally.
  8. Click OK, and then click OK again to apply the settings.
  9. Click OK or Print from the Print dialog box to start the print job.
Follow these steps to check print quality and grayscale settings on a Mac.

Step one: Check the print quality 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 two: Check the grayscale print setting

  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 ink levels, and then replace low or empty cartridges

Low ink can contribute to poor print quality. Follow these steps to check the ink levels, and then replace low or empty cartridges according to the results.

Step one: Check the 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.
From the home screen of the printer control panel, touch the Ink icon (). The current ink levels display.
Figure 5: Example of estimated ink levels
Image: Estimated ink levels displaying on the control panel.

Step two: Replace any depleted cartridges

Watch a video or use the following steps to replace a depleted cartridge.

Video of replacing the cartridges

The following video demonstrates how to replace a cartridge.
If you have trouble viewing the video or to view the video in a different size, click here to play the video on YouTube .
  1. If the product is off, press the Power button () to turn on the product. Wait until the product is idle and silent before continuing.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure 6: Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    Figure 7: Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot
  4. Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge by pulling the orange tab.
    Figure 8: Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge
    Image: Remove the plastic wrap from a new cartridge
  5. Remove the orange cap from the cartridge. Twist the cap counter-clockwise until it snaps off.
    Figure 9: Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the cartridge
  6. With the nozzle and the contacts facing down, push the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks into place. Make sure that the color icon on the cartridge label matches the color icon on the slot.
    Figure 10: Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge
  7. Repeat these steps to insert the other cartridges.
  8. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 11: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door

Solution six: Print and evaluate a Print Quality Diagnostic Report

Follow these steps to print, and then evaluate a test page.

Step one: Print a Print Quality Diagnostic Report

  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the tray.
  2. From the control panel home screen, touch the Settings icon ().
  3. Touch Tools, and then touch Print Quality Report. The printer prints a test page.
    Figure 12: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects
    Image: Example of a Print Quality Diagnostic report with no defects.

Step two: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic Report for defects

If the printer and the cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars should be complete, unstreaked, and uniform in color across the width of the page. The black text on the page should not have ink streaks.
Examples of defects on a Print Quality Diagnostic report
DefectExample
Irregular streaksImage of irregular streaks.
Faded color barsImage of faded color bars.
Missing colorImage of a color missing.
Color bars with regular white streaksImage of regular white streaks in the color bars.
Jagged alignment patternsImage of jagged alignment patterns.
  • If you do not see defects on the Print Quality Diagnostic Report, the print mechanism and cartridges work correctly. Do not continue the troubleshooting steps in this document.
    If printouts are still unsatisfactory, try the following general print quality guidelines.
    • Make sure that the image you are printing has sufficient resolution. Images that are enlarged too much might appear fuzzy or blurry.
    • If the issue 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 degrees. The problem might not appear on the other end of the printout.
  • If you see one or more of these defects on the print quality diagnostic report, continue to the next step.

Step three: Make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly

If the vent on the top of the cartridge is clogged or obstructed, the cartridge might not work properly. Follow these steps to make sure that the cartridges are properly vented and seated correctly.
  1. Press the Power button to turn on the printer, if it is not already turned on. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before continuing.
  2. Open the cartridge access door. The carriage moves to the access area.
    Figure 13: Open the cartridge access door
    Image: Open the cartridge access door
  3. Press the tab on the front of the cartridge inward to release it, and then pull up on the cartridge to remove it from the slot.
    Figure 14: Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot
  4. Examine the vent area on each cartridge, above the HP logo on the top of the cartridge.
    Figure 15: Vent area on the top of the cartridge
    Image: Vent area on the top of the cartridge
  5. If the cartridge still has the orange pull-tab attached, pull to remove it.
    Figure 16: Orange pull tab
    Image: Orange pull tab.
  6. If the vent is clogged, use a straight pin to gently remove excess adhesive from the vent.
    Figure 17: Clean the clogged vent with a pin
    Image: Clean the clogged vent with a pin.
    1 - Clogged vent
    2 - With a straight pin, gently remove excess adhesive from the vent
    3 - Unclogged vent
  7. With the nozzle and contacts facing down, slide the cartridge into its slot. Press down on the cartridge until it clicks into place.
    NOTE:Make sure that each cartridge is installed in the correct slot. Match the shape of the icon and the color of the cartridge with the slot that has the same shaped icon and color.
    Figure 18: Reinsert the cartridge
    Image: Reinsert the cartridge
  8. Repeat these steps to inspect the vents on each of the cartridges.
  9. Make sure that each cartridge is firmly in place in its slot. Run your finger along the top of the cartridges to feel for any that are protruding, and if any are, press down firmly until each cartridge snaps into place.
  10. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 19: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door
  11. Try the print job again.

Step four: Clean the printheads

If you found defects on the test page, follow these steps to run a utility to clean the printheads.
  1. Make sure that plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper is loaded in the tray.
  2. From the control panel home screen, touch the Settings icon (), and then touch Tools.
  3. Touch the Down Arrow (), and then touch Clean Printhead. The product cleans the printheads, and then prints a test page.
  4. Review the print quality on the test page.
  • If these steps resolved the issue, there is no need to continue troubleshooting. The following precautions might prevent the issue in the future.
    • Avoid leaving unprotected cartridges out of the printer for an extended period of time.
    • Always use the Power button to turn off the printer. This protects the cartridges from exposure to air.
  • If the issue persists, continue to the next step.

Step five: Align the Printer

If there were defects on the print quality diagnostic report, follow these steps to align the printheads.
Follow these steps to align the printer using the control panel.
  1. From the home screen, touch the Setup icon (), and then touch Tools.
  2. Touch the Down Arrow (), and then touch Align Printer. The alignment page prints.
  3. Lift the lid on the printer, and then place the alignment page print side down in the right front corner of the scanner glass.
    Figure 20: Place the alignment page on the scanner glass
    Image: Place the alignment page on the scanner glass.
  4. Close the lid, and then press OK on the control panel. The printer will align automatically. Press OK to continue.

Solution seven: Service the Printer

These steps apply to all countries/regions except Asia Pacific.
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.
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