One of the most common printing issues that HP printer users report is that their printer will not print black ink. There are a few reasons this might occur, including incorrect printhead alignment, faulty or empty black color printer cartridges, and more.

In this article, we’ll cover ten common printer errors that can cause your HP Printer to stop printing black and explain how to fix them. These methods might also help with color ink or color cartridge issues.

Table of Contents
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 1

    10 Ways to Fix Your HP Printer When It’s Not Printing Black

    Below, we cover 10 different methods to troubleshoot your HP color printer. We begin with the easiest and most probable fixes, so start at the top and work your way down.

    Note: Your printer problems might be associated with a specific error message. If so, check out our troubleshooting guides for “Printer Status Unknown” and “Driver Is Unavailable.”

    1. Make Sure You Have Ink or Toner

    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 2

    This may seem obvious, but if your HP Printer won’t print black, it might be low on ink or toner. Whether your printer requires ink or toner will depend on the model. HP DeskJet, HP Envy and HP Officejet, and HP InkJet Printers all use ink. HP LaserJet printers use toner.

    The first thing to do is check your ink levels. Your printer cartridge doesn’t need to be completely out of ink to stop printing in that color—just very low. If there’s an exclamation mark beside the ink level indicator for black, you need to insert a new cartridge.

    Keep in mind that if your printer sensors are faulty, they may show that you have ink even when you don’t. So, even if your printer says it has ink, insert a new printer cartridge to test whether it’s an empty cartridge at fault.

    2. Clean the Printhead

    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 3

    A clogged printhead nozzle can prevent your printer from printing black ink. Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Printhead cleaning is available in the Printer Maintenance menu or HP printer’s control panel under Deep Cleaning or Clean Printhead.

    Select the appropriate option on your printer and allow the cleaning process to take place. This may take a while. The printer will then usually print a test page to see if the issue has been resolved. You may need to do this a few times to restore print quality fully.

    To prevent clogging in the future, avoid going for long periods of not using your printer, and do not use third-party black ink cartridges.

    Note: Another common error HP users get is that they have “Missing or Failed Printheads.” See how to fix this error if it occurs.

    3. Clean the Cartridges

    If you have cleaned the printhead a few times and are having no luck, it may be worth cleaning the cartridges themselves. Printer cartridges can become clogged or dry out, causing that color to fail.

    The easiest way to clean cartridges is to wipe the nozzle plate (where the ink comes out) with some isopropyl alcohol. If this doesn’t work, your cartridge may be dry. Pour some boiling water into a container and submerge about a quarter of the cartridge face down. Leave until the water cools. Dry the cartridge and reinsert it into the printer as normal.

    4. Use the HP Smart App

    The HP Smart App is available for some HP users and can be used to troubleshoot various printing issues. Most Wi-Fi-enabled HP printers manufactured after 2010 are compatible with this app.

    1. Open the HP Smart app on your device.
    2. Select the three bars on the left-hand side to open the home menu.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 4
    1. Select Diagnose and Fix.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 5
    1. Select Start. Follow the instructions from the troubleshooter.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 6

    5. Use the Windows Printer Troubleshooter

    Windows users can also use the Printer Troubleshooter to see what may be causing the issues.

    1. Type Printers and scanners into the taskbar and select Printers & scanners.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 7
    1. Under related settings, select Troubleshoot.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 8
    1. Choose your HP printer model. This should be listed in the troubleshooter’s window.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 9
    1. Select Next.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 10
    1. Follow any instructions in the diagnostic report.

    If Windows identifies any problems with the software or printer driver, it will fix them or recommend actions for you to take.

    6. Use the HP Print and Scan Doctor

    For those with models that aren’t compatible with HP Smart, there is another piece of software that may be helpful. If you don’t have it already, you can download the HP Print and Scan Doctor software here.

    1. Open the HP Print and Scan Doctor software.
    2. Select Start to choose your HP printer, and then select Next.
    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 11
    1. Select the Fix Printing option.
    2. Follow the troubleshooting instructions.

    7. Use Genuine Hewlett-Packard Cartridges

    Third-party ink cartridges, while usually cheaper, don’t always work so well on HP printers. Sometimes the cartridge is faulty, other times it is not compatible with the HP software.

    If you’re using a third-party ink cartridge, and having printing problems, try replacing it with an official HP ink cartridge.

    8. Align the Printhead

    A printer might not print black ink if it has not been calibrated properly. Calibrating your HP Printer by aligning its printhead may fix these issues.

    HP printers have an Align Printhead option in their Printer Maintenance menu or within the Control Panel menu that can be used to calibrate the printer.

    When you select the Align Printhead option, the printer will print an alignment page and prompt you to make changes based on the outcome of the alignment printout. The actual process will depend on your model. Refer to your HP printer manual for specific printhead alignment guidelines.

    9. Check the Paper Type

    HP Printer Not Printing Black? 10 Fixes to Try image 12

    If you’re printing in black and white and getting blank pages (or it won’t print at all), the issue may not be the ink but the paper. Try inserting plain paper rather than any specialty paper and see whether the issue is resolved.

    If the printer prints fine on normal paper, you might need to adjust your paper settings. Make sure that the paper selected in your printer settings for the print job matches the paper type you’re trying to print on.

    10. Contact HP Support

    If all else fails, it’s time to contact customer service. You can access HP Support here. Select Contact Us to get in contact with an HP staff member that can hopefully talk you through your printer problems.

    Print it Black

    Hopefully, the above solutions have helped you fix your HP printer so that it prints in black once again. If they don’t help and HP support is unable to identify the problem, the printer itself might need repairing.

    Users can return HP printers within their warranty periods to the manufacturer for repairs. So check the warranty period of your printer to see if you can return it.