I’m a huge fan of HP printers and I think overall they are the best printers for businesses as well as consumers. However, they come bundled with the worst possible software that not only bloats and slows down your system, but doesn’t really help all that much in connecting your computer to your printer, which is the main goal of any printer.
Nowadays, a lot of printers are wireless or at least network-capable, meaning you can plug in a network cable and print without actually having to connect the printer to your computer via USB. It’s absolutely ridiculous if you buy a new printer today and it forces you to connect it to your computer for setup.
Unfortunately, setting up a network or wireless printer is far more complicated just because you now have to deal with all kinds of equipment in between the two devices. Even if you can print to your wireless printer today, you may not be able to a month from now if the IP address accidentality changes or if someone turns on a security feature on your router that prevents communication between devices on the network. There are literally hundreds of things that can go wrong.
In fact, I’ve previously written about troubleshooting WiFi printers and gave six possible solutions for fixing most WiFi printing issues. However, there are some issues that are just manufacturer-specific and at that point, it’s a good idea to simply use the diagnostic tools they have provided.
HP Print and Scan Doctor is a free software utility that helps you quickly address most printing and scanning issues with HP printers. This utility works on everything from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, there is no Mac version of this utility yet.
The program checks a bunch of stuff and actually replaces four separate utilities that HP used to have for diagnosing problems with printers. Here’s a quick list of items checked:
Connectivity – If connected via USB, it makes sure the printer is connected properly and if connected via the network, it makes sure your computer is actually connected to the network.
Device Status – Checks to make sure there are no printer errors like out of ink, paper jams, feed issues, etc.
Driver Check – Makes sure the driver is not corrupt or missing.
Device Manager – Checks for issues in Device Manager that could be causing issues.
Print Queue – Clears the print queue if there are stuck jobs.
Port Match/Device Conflicts – Checks the port settings for the printer and makes sure there are no device conflicts with the printer like other drivers or printer brands.
When you start the program up, it will go ahead and perform a search for any HP printer connected via USB, ethernet or wirelessly. Once it shows up, you can then click Next and continue to screen where you can diagnose problems with the printer.
Now what if you’re having issues even getting the printer to show up properly? In that case, the program won’t be able to find your printer and you’ll see this screen:
Depending on how you want to connect the printer, the program will give you tips for getting the printer connected. Unfortunately, until you get the printer online at least, the program can’t help you very much. If you have a wireless or network printer and have no idea why it’s not getting an IP address, then connect it to the computer using a USB cable first.
The program also has a menu option called Network where you can see advanced info about your network and you can disable the firewall (Troubleshoot Firewalls). That seems to be a major cause of communication errors, so they have that option built right into the program.
Now once your printer shows up in the list like in the first screenshot, go ahead and click Next. Here it’ll detect whether your printer is the default printer or not and give you the option to make it default by clicking a button.
Now to diagnose and fix any problems, click on Fix Printing or Fix Scanning. If you have an HP All-in-One printer that can print and scan, then you can pick exactly which issue is causing problems.
The program will go ahead and start analyzing the printer and your system to see what issues are preventing the printer from printing or scanning. If it finds problems, it will list them out and help you resolve them. If everything is ok, you should see a bunch of green check marks and the option to print a test page.
Lastly, the program has some last resort options if the printing issues have not been resolved. You can troubleshoot the firewall, uninstall and reinstall the printing software and get support information for your specific product.
Overall, it’s an excellent tool and makes me wish HP created driver packages for their printers like they created this tool: simple, sleek with no extra fluff. If you’re having issues printing with your HP printer, make sure to download and run the Print and Scan Doctor. Have any questions? Post a comment. Enjoy!