What to do if your HP printer doesn’t print black

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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6 solutions to fix HP printer if it doesn’t print black

  1. Clean the Printhead
  2. Open the Printer Troubleshooter
  3. Fix the Printing With HP Print and Scan Doctor
  4. Add a Genuine Hewlett-Packard Cartridge to the Printer
  5. Replace Cartridges That Are low on Ink
  6. Align the Printhead

Hewlett-Packard printers usually print documents without any hiccups. However, some users have stated on forums that their HP printers don’t print black ink. Most users will, at first, no doubt assume that their printers have run out of ink.

However, the printers don’t print black even though the cartridges still include some black ink. This is how users can fix HP printers that aren’t printing black ink.

What to do if your printer black ink is not working

1. Clean the Printhead

HP printers with clogged printhead nozzles don’t usually print black ink. Thus, cleaning the printhead is a resolution some HP printer users have confirmed fixes the printing. Note that you might need to do that a few times to fully restore print quality.

How you clean a printhead can vary slightly between different HP printer models. You can usually select a Deep Cleaning or Clean Printhead option from a Printer Maintenance menu on an HP printer’s control panel. Selecting that option might then print a page showing some pattern output for various colors.

So make sure there is some paper loaded in the printer before selecting to clean the printhead. Check out your printer’s manual for more specific details on how to clean its printhead.

2. Open the Printer Troubleshooter

Windows includes a Printer troubleshooter that can come in handy for fixing printers when they don’t print as expected. So that might provide some fixes for HP printers not printing black ink. Follow the guidelines below to open the Printer troubleshooter.

  • Windows 10 users can open the Printer troubleshooter by clicking the Cortana Type here to search button on the taskbar.
  • Enter ‘troubleshoot’ in the search box.
  • Select Troubleshoot to open the Settings app window shown below.

  • Select Printer and click Run the troubleshooter to open the window in the snapshot directly below.

  • Select your HP printer model listed in the troubleshooter’s window.
  • Then press the Next button to fix the printing with the troubleshooter.
  • To open the Printer troubleshooter in other Windows platforms, press the Windows key + R hotkey. Then enter ‘Control Panel’ in the Open box, and click the OK button.
  • Click Troubleshooting to open the Control Panel applet below.

  • Click View all on the left of the window to open a full list of troubleshooters.

  • Then right-click Printer and select Run as administrator.

3. Fix the Printing With HP Print and Scan Doctor

Alternatively, Hewlett-Packard printer users can also utilize the HP Print and Scan Doctor utility to fix printing. That’s a troubleshooter more specifically designed for Hewlett-Packard printers. Users can fix printing with HP Print and Scan Doctor as follows.

  • Click the HP Print and Scan Doctor link on this HP page to download the software’s setup wizard.
  • Click HPPS.dr.exe in the to install HP Print and Scan Doctor.
  • Click Start to select your HP printer, and then press the Next button.

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  • Select the Fix Printing option.

  • Thereafter, the software might display wrench icons that highlight it fixed something. If so, close the troubleshooter and try printing again.
  • Alternatively, you might see an X icon. If so, continue with the troubleshooter and follow the instructions it provides to fix the issue.

— RELATED: SOLVED: HP Envy printer doesn’t print after Windows 10 upgrade

4. Add a Genuine Hewlett-Packard Cartridge to the Printer

Third-party ink cartridges don’t always work so well on Hewlett-Packard printers. As such, replacing a third-party cartridge with a more official Hewlett-Packard cartridge might fix an HP printer that’s not printing black ink. The HP website includes a search box where users can enter their printer models in a search box to find compatible ink cartridges for them.

Also note that there are fake, counterfeited HP ink cartridges. So it might worth checking if your own cartridge is a fake one. HP printer users can check for fakes by scanning the QR codes on the cartridges with a QR scanner or SureSupply app. Alternatively, users can enter serial numbers on the cartridge labels at the Hewlett-Packard verification page to validate them.

5. Replace Cartridges That Are low on Ink

Most users will probably check the ink levels when a printer stops printing black ink. However, some users might overlook replacing a cartridge if it’s not completely out of ink. You should replace the black ink cartridge when it’s very low on ink, but not necessarily completely out of ink. An exclamation mark on the ink level indicator highlights when a cartridge is running low on ink. So replace the black ink cartridge if you see an exclamation mark for it on the printer control panel’s ink level indicator.

— RELATED: What to do if your Windows 10 printer driver is unavailable

6. Align the Printhead

A printer might not print black ink if it has not been calibrated. Thus, calibrating an Hewlett-Packard printer by aligning its printhead might fix its printing. Most HP printers will include an Align Printhead option on their Printer Maintenance or Tools control panel menus that users can calibrate them with.

Selecting that option will then calibrate the printer and print an alignment page. HP printer manuals will provide more specific printhead alignment guidelines for their respective models.

The above resolutions will probably fix HP printers so that they print black ink. If the above resolutions still don’t fix the printing, the printer itself might need repairing. Users can return HP printers that are still within their warranty periods to the manufacturer for repairs. So check the warranty period of your printer to see if you can return it to Hewlett-Packard.

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I upgraded to os catalina for mac and now I can’t print black ink type. color works just fine. I was told by hp teck support to go buy a new printer. The teck was unwilling to pay for it and I can’t afford a new printer. Is there a simple fix for my problem? P.S. I do not get any warning messages or dropdown windows