My Printer Is Printing Strange Characters

Your computer, operating system, printer driver, and finally the printer itself must work together in order to convert application files into printed output. You might be in for a surprise when you pick up your finished document from the printer’s output tray if any of the processing chain’s links malfunction. Investigate your issue from one end of the output chain to the other if you notice jumbled output or odd character substitutions on the page.

Printer Driver

Put the driver software your computer uses to process output data at the top of your list of suspects when your perfectly formatted word processing or spreadsheet file prints out looking like alphabet soup. A seemingly never-ending list of problems can result from using the incorrect driver, which may be mismatched with your printer, too new or old for your operating system, or a PostScript driver for non-PostScript hardware. If your current installation fails the test, verify your support software and download the appropriate version from the printer manufacturer’s website.

Printer Connection

When you connect some USB printers to your computer via a hub, they work without a hitch. When compared to bus-powered hubs, which draw their power from your USB port, some only accept this type of connection on powered hubs, which draw their power from a wall outlet. Another class of printers needs to be connected directly to a port on your computer. Even if your current connection options are in line with your printer’s recommendations, try connecting it directly. If that doesn’t resolve your output issue, replace your data cable.

Data Source

The majority of computers and output hardware have no issues printing files directly from removable media. When trying to source large files from a flash drive or memory card, it may be more difficult to serve up documents with large, high-resolution graphics for output. If the connection cannot keep up with the output process, even networked connections may become problematic. Consider printing your document from your local hard drive by copying it to your desktop.

PDF Problems

You might come across PDFs that contain typeface information encoded in a way that prevents them from printing correctly when your printer muddles them up into a jumble. If you want to print a PDF file as an image, the application you use to access PDF files should have an advanced printing preference that lets you do that. When you print an image, the printer converts the data in the PDF file to a bitmap as it goes to print it. This option can make files printable that would not otherwise image properly, but it slows down your output due to the additional processing it needs.

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