10 Biggest Printer Problems -- And How To Fix Them

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Problem: I don't know how to fit more text on one page. How do I do it?

Solution: Shrinking text to fit two pages on one sheet saves money (you'll buy less paper) and speeds up printing (fewer pages to print). This two-for-one approach is best for spreadsheets, receipts, and other documents that are still legible once shrunken.

In any Windows program, select Print and Properties, and then look for a printer setting that lets you increase the number of pages per sheet.

Problem: Grandma called and wants me to fix her "broken" printer. I'm no tech guru. What should I do?

Solution: You could always pretend you're not home, but that might lead to bigger problems down the line. We recommend you help Grandma out, because printer problems encountered by the, um, technically challenged are often easy to fix.

First, have her see if the printer is plugged into a wall outlet. (Don't laugh. It's fairly common.) Second, she should make sure there's paper in the tray. And third, have her check the cable (probably USB or Ethernet) that connects the printer to the PC or router. This troubleshooting basics article has more advice.

Problem: My paper tray is flimsy.

Solution: To cut costs on some printers, vendors often include low-capacity or flimsy trays. In her article "Is Your Printer Stealing From You?", PC World's Melissa Riofrio lists seven printers with notoriously cheap paper trays--each from major vendors such as Brother, Dell, Epson, HP, Ricoh, and Xerox. Shame on you guys.

So what can you do? Before buying a printer, examine the paper tray carefully. If it looks like it'll break after the first sideswipe, it's probably wise to get another model. If the tray is too small for your printing needs, see if there's a higher-capacity option. Or you could try this guy's approach to fixing a busted printer.

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