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HP Photosmart 7520 e-All-in-One Printer support

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

  • PrintPrint
This document is for the HP Photosmart 7520 and 7525 e-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.
To resolve most print quality issues, use genuine HP cartridges, and in some cases, you might need to allow the printer to complete the automatic servicing routine. Check the paper and print settings to make sure that they are correct for the print job, and clean the cartridges and printhead. You might need to replace any empty or defective cartridges.

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 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 solutions.

Solution three: Check the paper

Use the following guidelines to make sure that the paper 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 and vertical streaks in a printout
Figure 3: Horizontal streaks in a printout
Image: Horizontal streaks  in a printout

Continue with the following troubleshooting steps if your printout contains horizontal lines or other print quality issues besides vertical streaks.
Figure 4: Vertical streaks in a printout
Image: Vertical streaks in a printout

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.
Try to print again after trying the preceding guidelines.

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.
NOTE:Microsoft designed the Windows 8 interface for use with touchscreen monitors. In some areas of this document, the instructions direct you to "click" an element on the screen. In Windows 8, users with touchscreens can also tap those elements to perform the task.
  1. In the software program that you are trying to print from, click File , and then click Print . The Print dialog box opens.
  2. Select your printer, and then click Properties . The 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 printer, select Legal 8.5x14in .
  5. From the Media drop-down list, select the paper type that matches the paper loaded in the printer.
  6. Select a print quality option.
    NOTE:If you want higher quality printouts, select a higher quality output setting. Selecting the Best or Maximum dpi might resolve print quality issues.
  7. Click the Advanced button. The Advanced Options dialog box opens.
  8. Under Printer Features , make sure that Print in Grayscale is set to Off , unless you want to print in Grayscale intentionally.
  9. Click OK , and then click OK again to apply the settings.
  10. Click OK or Print from the Print dialog box to start the print job.
Follow the steps for your operating system.
  1. In the software program that you are trying to print from, click File , and then click Print .
  2. Select the Paper Type/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.
  4. In the Paper Type/Quality menu, click Color Options , if it is available.
    • If you want color printouts, make sure that ColorSmart/sRGB is selected.
    • If the option is not available, continue to the next step.
  5. Click Print to try the print job again.
  6. Optional : To save these settings for future print jobs, follow these steps:
    1. In the Presets menu, click Save As , name the new preset, and then click OK .
    2. If you have multiple printers installed, open System Preferences ( ) on the Dock, and then click Print & Fax .
    3. Set the Default Printer to Last Printer Used .
  1. In the software program that you are trying to print from, 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 or Media 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.
  4. In the Paper Type/Quality or Media & Quality menu, click Color Options , if it is available.
    • If you want color printouts, make sure that ColorSmart/sRGB is selected.
    • If the option is not available, continue to the next step.
  5. Click Print to try the print job again.
  6. Optional : To save these settings for future print jobs, follow these steps.
    1. In the Presets menu, click Save As , name the new preset, and then click OK .
    2. If you have multiple printers installed, open System Preferences ( ) on the Dock, and then click Print & Scan .
    3. Set the Default Printer to Last Printer Used .

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

Follow these steps to check the estimated ink levels on your printer, and then replace low or empty cartridges according to the results.

Step 1: Check the estimated ink levels

Follow these steps to check the estimated ink levels.
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.
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.
  • If none of the cartridges are low on ink , you do not need to replace them yet. Continue to the next solution.
  • If any of the cartridges are low on ink , continue to the next step to replace them.

Step 2: Replace any low or empty cartridges

Follow these steps to replace any low or empty cartridges.

Video of replacing a cartridge

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. 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 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. Repeat the previous step until you have removed all of the cartridges from the printer.
  5. Pull the orange tab to remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
    Figure 8: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap
    Image: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
  6. Twist the orange cap counter clockwise until it snaps off the new cartridge.
    Figure 9: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge.
  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 the colored icon on the cartridge matches the colored icon on the slot.
    CAUTION:Do not lift the carriage latch handle to install the cartridges. Doing so can result in incorrectly seated cartridges and printing problems. The latch must remain down to install the cartridges correctly.
    Figure 10: Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge.
  8. Repeat the previous steps until you have inserted all of the new cartridges into the printer.
  9. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 11: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  10. When you insert a new cartridge, the printer automatically prompts you to align the cartridges. Touch OK on the printer control panel to complete the alignment.

Solution six: Print and evaluate a Print Quality Diagnostic report and troubleshoot defects

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

Step 1: Print a Print Quality Diagnostic report

Follow these steps to print a test page.
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the input tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ( ).
  3. Touch Tools , and then touch Print Quality Report . The printer prints the 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 2: Check the Print Quality Diagnostic report for defects

In general, if the printer and its cartridges are working correctly, all the color bars on the test page should be present and unstreaked. The black text should not show ink streaks. The example in the previous step shows a test page with no defects.
Review the following table for examples of defects that can exist on the test page. These examples are not all-inclusive, but tend to represent the most common issues.
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 test page , 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 display on the other end of the printout.
    Garbled, illogical text, and incomplete printout (graphic)Windows only: 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 test page , continue to the next step.

Step 3: 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.
  2. Open the cartridge access door.
    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.
    • If the error message mentions a specific cartridge, locate that cartridge, remove it from the carriage, and then continue with the next step.
    • If the error message does not mention a specific cartridge, remove all the cartridges one at a time, and then continue with the next step.
    Figure 14: Remove the cartridge
    Image: Remove the cartridge.
  4. Examine the vent area on each cartridge located 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 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 18: Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert 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. Wait until the printer is idle and silent before proceeding.
  12. Print another test page.

Step 4: Use an automated tool to clean the printheads

A printheads cleaning can fix many print quality issues. Follow these steps to run an automatic utility to clean the printheads.
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the input tray, if it is not already loaded.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ( ).
  3. Touch Tools , and then touch Clean Cartridges . The printer cleans the printhead and then prints a test page.
  4. Check the test page for defects.
NOTE:Never turn off the printer when cartridges are missing. Make sure that you replace any missing cartridges as soon as possible to avoid print quality issues and possible extra ink usage or damage to the ink system. To avoid issues that require cleaning the printhead, always turn the printer off with the Power button on the printer itself.
  • If you do not see defects on the test page, the print mechanism and cartridges work correctly. Do not continue the troubleshooting steps in this document.
  • If you see defects on the test page, try the second-stage cleaning option that the printer offers. If you still see defects on the test page, continue to the next step.

Step 5: Use an automated tool to align the printheads

Aligning the printheads can resolve some print quality issues. Follow these steps to align the printheads.
  1. Load plain white U.S. letter or A4 size paper in the input tray.
  2. On the printer control panel, touch the Settings icon ( ).
  3. Touch Tools , and then touch Align Printer . After the alignment, a message displays on the printer control panel that tells you the alignment status.
    • If the alignment is successful , you can stop troubleshooting.
    • If the alignment is unsuccessful , continue to the next solution.

Solution seven: Replace the problem cartridges

If none of the preceding solutions resolves the issue, replace the cartridge that corresponds to the defect on the test page. Follow these steps to replace the problem cartridge.
If you have a defective cartridge or printhead, it might be under warranty. To check the warranty on your ink supplies, go to hp.com/go/learnaboutsupplies , select your country/region, and then review the limited warranty information for your supplies.

Video of replacing a cartridge

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. 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 20: 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 21: Remove the cartridge from the slot
    Image: Remove the cartridge from the slot.
  4. Repeat the previous step until you have removed all of the cartridges from the printer.
  5. Pull the orange tab to remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
    Figure 22: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap
    Image: Remove the new cartridge from the plastic wrap.
  6. Twist the orange cap counter clockwise until it snaps off the new cartridge.
    Figure 23: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge
    Image: Remove the orange cap from the new cartridge.
  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 the colored icon on the cartridge matches the colored icon on the slot.
    CAUTION:Do not lift the carriage latch handle to install the cartridges. Doing so can result in incorrectly seated cartridges and printing problems. The latch must remain down to install the cartridges correctly.
    Figure 24: Insert the cartridge
    Image: Insert the cartridge.
  8. Repeat the previous steps until you have inserted all of the new cartridges into the printer.
  9. Close the cartridge access door.
    Figure 25: Close the cartridge access door
    Image: Close the cartridge access door.
  10. When you insert a new cartridge, the printer automatically prompts you to align the cartridges. Touch OK on the printer control panel to complete the alignment.

Solution eight: Replace the printhead

If you have completed all of the troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing a problem, replace the printhead.
CAUTION:Wait until you have a new printhead assembly available before you remove the cartridges. HP recommends that you do not leave the cartridges outside the printer longer than 30 minutes. This could damage both the printer and the cartridges.
If HP replaces your printhead assembly under warranty, you receive a new printhead assembly, cleaning materials, and a full set of new cartridges with the replacement printhead.
If your printhead assembly is no longer under warranty, you can purchase a new one online.
  1. Go to the HP How to Buy website , and then click your country-language.
  2. A Buy HP page displays. Look for the HP Parts store on this page. The location of the HP Parts store varies depending on your region. Click HP Parts store .
  3. Under Find your part(s) , type CN642A in the Search by part number text box. Follow the on-screen instructions to order the printhead assembly.

Solution nine: 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.
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