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How to Fix Your Printer When It Starts Printing Gibberish

Updated January 6, 2024

When your printer starts printing random characters and colors be sure to check out this video for information about how to fix this issue.


If your printer is spitting out pages full of strange characters, symbols, or strange formatting, your inkjet printer drivers may be outdated, incompatible with your operating system or corrupt. Drivers are important to the proper function of your inkjet printer and it is best to check for updates regularly. Check the manufacturer's website for upgrades.

Still having trouble getting your printer to stop printing gibberish?  Follow these steps:

Step 1: Cancel the Print Job
- Immediately cancel the ongoing print job to prevent wasting more paper and ink.
- You can do this either directly from the printer or from the print queue on your computer.

Step 2: Check Your Document
- Ensure that the document you're trying to print is not corrupted.
- Try opening and printing a different file. If the problem persists, the issue is likely with the printer or its connection.

Step 3: Restart Your Printer
- Turn off your printer, wait for about 30 seconds, and then turn it back on.
- A simple restart can sometimes clear up temporary glitches.

Step 4: Check Printer Connections
- If your printer is connected via a cable, ensure it's securely plugged in at both ends.
- For wireless printers, check your Wi-Fi connection and make sure your printer is properly connected to your network.

Step 5: Update or Reinstall Printer Drivers
- Outdated or corrupt printer drivers can cause gibberish printing.
- Visit the printer manufacturer’s website, find the latest drivers for your printer model, and install them.
- Alternatively, uninstall and then reinstall the printer drivers.

Step 6: Clear the Print Spooler
- The print spooler on your computer may be causing the problem.
- To clear it, type ‘services.msc’ in the Windows search bar, find ‘Print Spooler’, right-click it, and select ‘Stop’.
- Then, navigate to ‘C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS’ and delete all files in the folder.
- Go back to the services window and start the ‘Print Spooler’ service again.

Step 7: Check Printer Settings
- Ensure that the printer settings match the paper size and type you’re using.
- Check if the correct printer is selected in the print dialog box.

Step 8: Print a Test Page
- Most printers allow you to print a test page directly from the printer’s control panel.
- If the test page prints correctly, but your document doesn’t, the problem might be with the software you’re using.

Step 9: Consult the Printer’s Manual
- Refer to your printer’s manual for specific troubleshooting tips related to your model.

Step 10: Contact Support or a Professional
- If all else fails, reach out to the printer manufacturer’s support team or consult a professional.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile