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My Printer Won’t Print in Black: What Should I Do?

My Printer Won’t Print in Black: What Should I Do?

It’s a very common tale: you need to print something and your printer’s black ink has decided to take a permanent vacation. You go straight to Google and search for fixes to resolve this problem and run into several printer forums without a clear resolution. We’ve gotten calls on this issue as well so to help, we’ve put together a list of things you can do when your printer stops printing in black.

Some Basic Things To Start

1. Turn off your printer, unplug from the power source and disconnect USB cables as well. After a few moments, reconnect your printer and plug it back in. Then, turn your printer back on.

2. Print a “Quality Diagnostic Report” or a “Print Test Page”.

3. You can usually find this option on your printer’s display screen.  Or, check your printer’s user guide for step by step instructions.

4. Check printer ink levels to double check the ink volume in your cartridges. If you’re using aftermarket cartridges that don’t show ink levels, we’ll have to figure out another way to determine whether or not your ink cartridges are at fault.

Check Your Ink Cartridge

1. Replace ink cartridges that are low on ink or empty.

2. Make sure ink cartridges are snapped into place and are properly installed in their appropriate slot.

3. Double check to make sure that you’ve removed the tape over the vent if you installed a new cartridge.

4. Check if the vents of the cartridges are clogged. You can fix this by gently using a pin to clean up the clog on the vent.

5. Try using a different ink cartridge to determine if your printer is able to recognize cartridges. If your printer used to work with an old cartridge, try installing that old cartridge again and see if your printer produces any sort of output–any shade of gray will do.

We just need to determine whether if it’s the cartridge or the printhead that’s causing problems. If your printer is able to print something with the old cartridge, then it’s not the printhead. Rather, your new black cartridge may be faulty and needs to be replaced. But if your printer still won’t print with the old cartridge, then the next step is —

Check Your PrintHead

1. If switching ink cartridges doesn’t work, the next thing to check is your printhead. Make sure your printheads aren’t clogged. Most printers have an automatic printhead cleaning feature but if you’re able to remove the printhead from your printer, you can clean it manually. Here’s an article that talks about how to manually clean the printhead of an Epson printer since Epson printheads are notorious for clogging. It pays to have a look at the article even if your printer is a different brand.

2. If running the automatic printhead cleaning feature once doesn’t work, run it again a second or third time. There’s a limit to how many times you can run the automatic cleaning feature. Not to mention, running the automatic printhead cleaning function uses up a lot of ink!

3. Re-align the printer. For HP printers, you can find this option on your printers LCD display screen: Setup > Tools.

Advanced Fixes

If it’s not the cartridge and not the printhead, it’s possible that the problem is with the software/printer driver. Tweaking the paper settings is one way to solve the problem.

  • Try changing the printer driver settings to select “glossy photo paper” as this may trigger the printer to start printing again. This is only applicable if your printer has two black cartridges–one dye-based and the other pigment. The type of black ink your printer uses would typically depend on the paper type selected. Pigment black works best with matte paper and dye works with glossy.  By switching from one paper type to the other, we’re hoping to trigger or jump start any of the black cartridges to work.

At this point, if that still doesn’t work and you’re sure it’s not the cartridge nor the printhead, then go ahead and reconfigure your printer. If your printer stopped working after you updated your PC or Mac’s operating system, try uninstalling and reinstalling your printer driver. You can find a downloadable version on your printer manufacturer’s website. And even if you didn’t update your OS, go ahead and reinstall your driver anyway.

Do aftermarket ink cartridges cause printhead problems?

No, not specifically. It’s possible to get a defective unit whether or not you’re using an original or aftermarket cartridge. Apart from the cartridge, there are other factors to consider as well such as how long your printer has been sitting unused.

If all else fails, it might be time to get a new printer. And don’t forget to recycle your printers! Printers not printing in black is a somewhat common problem, especially for older machines. Let us know if you have found any other quick fixes when troubleshooting your printer, we will gladly include them here!



  • Hi just want to say a big thank you, I’ve had no black printout for over a week on my Epsom Xp 245 , I followed your instructions and cleaned the cone and it was magic , I did one more head clean and it is now perfect , many thanks , you have made an old man very happy ,

  • I changed black ink and it still says I need to change . why?

    • Have you tried restarting your printer or reinstalling the cartridges (if it prompts you to run a calibration test, go ahead)? See what happens if you continue printing and hit OK to close the message. There may be a few reasons for this, we just need to narrow down the possibilities. It’s possible that the chip on the cartridge is faulty but before that we need to be sure your printer is reading cartridges correctly in the first place.

  • I have the Epson L355 and all ink is full. I have dont ink test but still wont print black. i have switch it off and took cable out but still nothing. Please help

    • Have you tried cleaning your contacts and nozzle to make sure they’re all clean?

  • My printer will print black if I select glossy paper thanks for that tip. But, it takes for ever and I’m sure it’s using more ink. What can I do?

    • changing the setting to glossy paper worked for me also. Thanks. But why?

    • My black ink has not been working in a while… I have done everything, went through numerous ink cartridges, cleaned the print head countless times and when I was about to buy a new printer, but thought I would try to find one last ‘new solution’ in the hopes of fixing my Epson WF3620 black ink issue before investing in a new printer. CHANGING THE PAPER TO “Photo Glossy” WORKED!!! It is now printing perfectly, with the exception of the page taking longer to spit out. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • If the blank ink is clogged will the printer continue to work. The ink has been used about 10 times.
      The only visible is small letter head at the top when printing.

  • changing the paper to glossy worked for me!! Thank you!!!!!

  • Thank you! This was incredibly helpful.

  • Changing to GLOSSY paper worked for me – BUT I don’t want to waste so much ink. How to go back to standard paper printing?
    Thanks for any help

    • I am in the similar boat as yourself. My print won’t print black content, but instead, but just use the colour cartridge to make black.

      Once I then select glossy paper, it works fine however uses a lot more ink and is completed at a slower rate

  • I have tried everything for hours, cleaned the printheads until they were shiny, new ink , alignment etc… glossy paper thing worked for me! Thanks so much!!! So simple!

  • Epson WF 2650 changing to glossy paper did the trick!
    I change back to plain paper & printing stops again

  • Thank you. I’ve looked everywhere and no one suggested to change the type of paper. I did that and it works. Still won’t work if I switch back to plain paper, but it will on glossy. Maybe it will trigger the printer sooner or later!

  • It worked when I went to HP Print/Customize Your Printer/Preferences/Paper Type: Others Glossy Inkjet Papers. Thank you so much!

  • Epson XP-415, black ink failure too, anyone any ideas?

    • Change your paper setting to glossy paper type. Worked for me.

  • Thank you!

  • Thank you! I can finally print with black again!

  • Changing to Glossy paper type worked like a charm for me, thank you 🙂

  • This also worked for me. But why is this happening to so many people? surely this must be a software issue? clearly all of our blacks are not clogged and fully working hence how we can all get black ink to print onto glossy paper. maybe try and download older software? i am going to attempt some software fixes today

  • Not sure why you can’t print in black if your color cartridges are empty. Black does not need them.

  • changing to a glossy paper worked but it won’t still print black when i go back to plain paper. why?

  • I face the same problem like the others. Black ink only works if I select glossy paper. However, it’s taking too long and a lot more ink. When I revert to plain paper, it won’t print again. What can I do to get “plain paper mode” to work?

  • Even though I was working with a HP 6978 printer, which wouldn’t print black ink only, I tried the very easy fix of resetting to Glossy paper, and BINGO!!! This fix worked for me too! There is just one problem. It seems to take forever for even a small amount of information to print on a page. I tried switching back to plain paper, and again, it only prints a few very faint grey lines on the page. This is a good temporary fix, but for long term, it’s not going to solve the problem. Thank you very much for your expertise! Any further tips, knowing the printer is capable of printing now, on how to solve this issue long term, would be much appreciated.

    • i have the same printer that only prints black ink in glossy paper setting. I was wondering if you found a permanent solution

    • Have you tried reinstalling the printer driver?

  • Wow! I’ve been fighting this problem for three days off and on, probably spent about 4-5 hours solid trying to change settings on every conceivable aspect of my documents and printer settings and even tried several web searches to no avail. Not until I found yours did the problem get solved. I was just about ready to give up and go buy a new printer, then I found your post, viola! Thank you so much. The change I made in the printer setting in “paper type” submenu, from plain paper to an HP glossy paper did the trick. Thanks!


  • I also had black print issue using new cartridge and cleaned print heads. I tried changing settings from plain paper to Premium paper and it worked.

  • HP printer was not printing in black, but printing in colour. I manually cleaned the cartridges, uninstalled & reinstalled printer, updated the driver and spent a whole day trying every thing I could Google to fix this issue!
    Finally, I changed the paper quality to setting to photo paper and it WORKED!!
    I can now print in black and colour.
    Many thanks for this suggestion. Much appreciated.

  • Changing paper settings to “gloss photo paper” also worked for me! Thanks 🙂

    Does anyone know WHY this change in settings enables the black ink to print? So crazy!!

    • I have a photo black ink cartridge that works fine if I set a higher type of paper or print a photo. I believes its not printing from your black, I thinks is only printing from your photo, but you could have different printer than myself.

  • I have similiar problem with my HP 4600, does not print black (generic) , but does when i do a cleaning test page. Under printing guidelines, i choose let printer decide colors

  • YES, changing the paper type to glossy worked for me too! but doesnt this use more ink? this is my second HP printer….this was a replacement…i got extended warranty…but having difficulty getting them to replace this one…..never again for me

  • Mine stopped printing in black about a year ago, maybe more. I’ve been printing on the glossy paper setting since then, but it is using entirely too much ink! Has anyone found another fix to this issue or is it just time for a new printer?

    • Have you tried switching back to regular paper setting? If you have and it goes back to not printing, have you tried reinstalling the printer driver?

  • My Canon MG 2950 stopped printing black and after 2 deep cleans, only started printing it randomly. Switching to ‘High Quality’ worked
    Print – Printer Settings – Quick Set Up – Print Quality – High

  • My Epson Artisan 837 stopped printing black. I put it away for two years but took the cartridges out, oops. I have now put all brand new cartridges in, followed all the steps online to clean the printhead, cones, and lines. I have run the printhead cleaning utility several times over two days. I do not get two of the six colors printing on the nozzle check. I printed about 40 test pages from printatestpage website, in black and white, best quality. The pages came out blank but the black ink level dropped noticeably in the ink level screen? Where is that ink going and why won’t it go on the page. I have checked and find no globs of ink anywhere?

    • Hi Matt, cleaning the printhead requires a lot of ink so If you run multiple cleanings then your ink levels will decrease pretty quickly. We recommend running two or three printhead cleanings at most. If that doesn’t work, we provide some more advanced cleaning tips on our “How to Clean An Epson Printhead” article here:

  • Thank you, thank you! I was SO frustrated and had to get a letter to the IRS. Just as I was about to move the document to a USB and find an office store to print it, the USB stopped working. ERGH! I tried the glossy paper trick and it was like a magic trick. Easy peasy and all good again.

  • Thanks for the glossy paper tip – it works! I lost 3 decent cartriges and was about to buy a new printer until I saw this tip. Very happy now

  • Hi! My Canon Pixma MP280 (that’s been a converter) is not printing black. and I already did the glossy type paper option but it’s still printing in color. done everything you said. hope you’ll reply. Thank you.

    BTW the inks are full.

    • Have you tried resetting the printer to its default factory settings? Try reinstalling the printer driver and then let me know if that still won’t work. Good luck!

  • I have been having on going issue between the color not working and the black ink not working. We have done all of the above steps to add wiping down everything on the inside getting all the built up black in in the right back corner. We have replaced brand new ink cartridges and tried going back to use them again and the print won’t let it. So here I are about 100 deep and wasted all of my color doing test page after clean, to test and back around. Turned off and on, moved rooms it was in. I have youtube and I have google. I need something else. The last time it took 4 days before we tried again and it just printed like nothing was ever wrong. I need to get a new brand of printers or there’s got to be a fix.\
    hp 7520 series

    Thank you for your help.

    • That does sound very frustrating especially since it sounds like you tried everything possible. Have you tried reinstalling your printer drivers?

    • HP 7520 is exasperating. Took out ink carriage ran
      Running water through it for minutes and soaked it
      And carefully dried it over night. Put in all new ink cartridges after cleaning in side of printer. Took awhile but sort of worked for a week. I have named it “pelosi” nicknamed POS. Now back to printing beauty “Quality ” pages telling me that black does not work. Stupidity in spades!

  • Hi There, can u help me?, my printer Epson L385 won’t print black since it was drained from ink, I have refilled it but stil it can’t print black, is there a way to repair it?, TIA.

    • It’s possible that you just need to clean the contacts and nozzles. I’m not sure how long your black cartridge has been empty but if it’s been sitting in your printer for some time, there’s a good chance, the ink dried up and is now clogging the nozzles.

  • My Epson xp235 stopped printing altogether after a lay off this summer. Bought some compatibles and after cleaning out the printheads several times,I got it to print in colour but not black. I reinstalled the drivers but still no luck infact it made it worse.The firm who sold me the clone inks said to try glossy paper and hey presto it printed black but very slowly. Got back to him and he said “the black cartridge is the only one that matters as far as the chips are concerned and to buy a genuine black which should reset the printer and then you can go back to the clone cartridge”.
    I have yet to try this out so if anyone tries this method let us all know if it works. I am lothe to try this because if it doesn’t work I may just throw this printer out of the window then go and smash it to pieces.

    • Unfortunately, this happens a lot with inkjet printers, even more so with Epson printers. The advice you got sounds like it could work though if it doesn’t, I’d start checking out other printer models for a replacement. Those who switched to laser printers are rid of a lot of problems with inkjets so you might want to explore that option as well.

  • how do i removed the tape over the vent for hp Deskjet 123 Inkjet (colour) Catridge

  • I’ve been trying to sort out a domestic catastrophe — my photographer mum’s printer wouldn’t print any black. All it took to fix it were two print head cleanings, like you suggested. My mum’s ecstatic and sends her thanks! 🙂

  • the problem with my printer was not printing the black colour but when the printer prints from other computer, it works properly on the black colour.
    i tried to clean the head, and check the ink catridge but it doesnt work on my laptop. so i tried to change the paper type into glossy paper, it works. then i tried with standart paper but with higher quality, it also works. i guess you just need to increase the printer ink quality (but i dont know if it also spend more ink as glossy paper mode, maybe less)

  • Hi,
    I tried all the steps mentioned in this thread. .did the reinstallation of the device driver, changed the paper type to glossy paper , performed the clean cartridge function too. .it still doesn’t print in black ink. .the paper comes out blank completely. Please help !!!
    My printer is hp ink tank 319.

  • did the trick!! have been messing with this for weeks!! thank you sooooo much!! was ready to toss it out the window and go buy a new printer.

  • Thank you!!! Since last monthk, I’ve been having issues that the printer will not print the black ink and lovely blank pages. I just wasted so much ink trying to clean the print heads on my HP Photosmart 6520, unistall/reinstall printer… I changed the media to HP Everyday Photo Paper, Glossy. It just printed my word doc. Yeah!!

  • the glossy trick just worked for my XP-440. Not sure why, bu6t ts been off for a few months and this finally did the trick!!!!! Hallelujah!

  • Cleaning the printhead worked for me, had to do it twice but now prints perfectly

  • THANK YOU for the best tip o the year!
    What bothers me is that my printer used to work perfect, then I shelved it for about 6 months. When I loaded new (refilled) cartridges in it, the test page would (and does) print nice vibrant black, but everything else printed with only the color cartridge.
    It sounds to me like MICROSOFT screwed an update up, and are just keeping quiet about it.
    Billy Gates, if it was you who did this, I hope your socks rot.

  • my black cartridge is full still it is not printing properly

  • I have an Epson workforce 7610. It sat idle for a while and when I tried to use it, the blank ink wouldn’t work. Tried your steps and, sigh, thankfully it’s working again! Thank you so very much for your tips.

    • *black, not blank. Geez! I can be a dork sometimes.

  • Thank you……been playing with new ink and cleaning the heads…..change the setting to glossy and it worked. Better than nothing.

  • Hello Everyone, I was using the glossy paper work around for this problem on my Epson WF-7210, but I was just getting tired of the slow prints. A friend suggested using the cleaning head nozzle feature on the printer multiple times and after the fourth consecutive cleans, I finally saw some black lines. After the sixth clean, the printer is now back to normal. Hope this helps someone to get past the slow “glossy” prints.

    • you are awesome man thank you!!

  • Wow, changed to Glossy paper and problem is fixed!

  • It now works with Glossy Paper setting, however you cannot printed “double-sided” with glossy paper!

  • Thank you for the good advice. Three hours of working on trying to get the black to print. And BAM! Just like that change the printer paper settings to glossy and it prints great. Thank you!

  • HP Photosmart 6525, black would not print. As suggested, I changed the paper selection to glossy and it also worked for me. Thank you.

  • I was having difficult time printing with black ink. My color ink was printing, but my black ink was not printing. All my 4 ink cartridges were brand new. I tried multiple methods to make the black ink print. (1) I ran “Nozzle Check” and “Head Cleaning” multiple times, but it looks like when you run “Head Cleaning”, it really drains the ink. My black ink is 75% empty now. 🙁
    (2) I followed 1 youtube video to dismantle my printer head section and cleaned it with hot water. But that method didn’t work either.
    (3) Finally, after reading one of the comments about changing the paper setting to ‘glossy’, MY BLANK INK IS FINALLY PRINTING. I am super happy.
    Now, I just have to buy another black ink cartridge .

  • Canon MG7150 stopped printing in black – renewing the MacOS driver and running clean / deep clean and realign no use – changed the cartridge too. Changing the control to print on matt photo paper works ok but slowly and didn’t reactivate the black. Changing the colour of my text to print in blue is desperate but does work and can produce essential paperwork. Thanks for the tip.

  • Please do printer head cleaning 2 times .Its works for me

  • I had done all the first suggestion at the beginning of you suggestions already to no avail. I read alone and then tried the realignment of the cartridges and low and behold!!! The black ink is now working! Thank you.

  • Changing this to GLOSSY does print the document, but if you look closely, you’ll see it’s still not printing the BLACK. Did anyone find a more permanent solution to this issue?

  • Epson Printer Error 0XF4 indicates that there is something wrong with your printer. This error mainly occurs due to an unavailability of the ink in your printer cartridge. The other reasons include paper jamming, unavailability of the CD driver, incapability of running the printer spooler, etc.

  • I put new ink in my printer after not having any for a few years. I haven’t needed a printer at home, so didn’t use. Anyway I put all. new ink on and it says The following ink cartridge appear to be missing or damaged.
    Refer to printer documentation..
    I can’t get this to go away at all. I’ve turned it off and on a dozen times and this still comes upHELP!

    • Hi Glenda, it could be an issue with the cartridge not recognizing in your printer. You can try cleaning the gold contact points on the side of the cartridge with a lint-free cloth and reinstalling. Sometimes fingerprint oil or dust can get on the connection points and cause a faulty reading. You can also try doing a hard reset – with the cartridges still installed, power down the printer, unplug it from the wall and let it sit for about a minute. Then plug it back in, power it back on and try printing again. If that doesn’t work, you may have a bad cartridge and will need to get a replacement. Hope this helps!!

  • Same here cleaned mine till I was dizzy; however good news….I started printing on ‘semigloss’ or above and then ran out I then changed all the cartridges at once and hey presto! it’s cured! All printing correctly and all well: mine is an XP342 with ‘non-recognised’ cartridges.

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