Garbage From Printer

Category: Printing , Quickies


When I start up my computer, the printer starts printing out a bunch of almost-blank garbage pages, containing hearts, smilies and lots of other gibberish. I don't know why it does this, and don't know how to stop it. Can you help?


Pages and Pages of Nonsense

When printers spew out pages of garbage or odd-looking nonsense characters, it COULD be that your computer has been hijacked by an army of monkeys attempting to re-type a Shakespeare play. But more likely it's because the printer and the computer are not communicating correctly.

If you interrupt a print job by turning off either the printer or the computer, the pages that print after that will probably be gibberish. That's because at the start of a print job, the printer receives instructions to load a specific font or code file, which translates the gibberish from the word processor into readable characters.

When you stop and restart the flow, the printer resumes printing the "raw text" and the results are usually not pretty. It's also a handy way to waste an entire ream of paper!

The Cure for Printer Garbage

show printer queue In most cases, the best thing to do is turn the printer OFF and then make sure that any pending print jobs are deleted from the print queue. Look for a little printer icon near the bottom right corner of the screen, on the WIndows taskbar. Double click the icon to view the items in the print queue, then delete each one. delete from printer queue

Turn the printer back on, and see if a test printout looks okay. If not, I recommend that you uninstall the printer software, restart the computer, then re-install the printer. Use Control Panel / Printers to remove and re-add the printer.

If that doesn't solve the problem, it may indicate a hardware problem. See Death of a Printer for detailed intructions on how to proceed.

Do you have comments or questions about this topic? Post your thoughts below...

This article was posted by on 29 Dec 2006

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Most recent comments on "Garbage From Printer"

Posted by:

Jim Mulvey
07 Mar 2007

When my 970Cse HP DeskJet starts printing out the gibberish lines, I have to shut off the computer, and while it's off, disconnect the printer from the computer, and disconnect the printer's power cord. I start up the computer with everything "printer" disconnected, and in the control panel, "uninstall" the errant printer. I then shut down the computer again and re-plug the printer to the computer, and replug the power to the printer. The next time I start the computer, it recognizes a new piece of hardware, and I just follow the directions of the "Installation Wizard"...VOILA ! my printer is healed!

EDITOR'S NOTE: You shouldn't have to remove and re-install the printer software. If you go to the printer's queue and remove any pending jobs, that should do the trick.

Posted by:

17 Apr 2007

I have also found that if you go to


and remove any files in this folder this problem can be solved.

Posted by:

Vinc DeRisio
30 May 2007

Hi Bob- I had one printer (HP Deskjet) several years ago that occasionally would give me a message that I was out of paper (not so) or that the computer was not properly connected (not so) and then would start printing gibberish. It was caused by the rollers not picking up the paper; I used something called "PathKleen" to run through the printer and the problem was solved for a few months.I'm not sure if this is a problem with newer printers.

Posted by:

John Clason
18 Dec 2008

I have the same issue as described in the original question. The printer works fine. Its just that every time I start my computer, or re-start my computer, the printer spits out about 3-5 pages that are almost blank, except for 1 line of gibberish. After that, the printer works fine. I can even hit cancel just as the printer starts to print, and it cancels the gibberish, and works fine. But its annoying to have the printer do this every time I start the computer. And its a waste of paper.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sounds like there's something stuck in a printer queue, and when you reboot, it tries to print it each time. Check the queues for all defined printers and see if there's anything there...

Posted by:

25 Jun 2009

Hi Bob,

Whenever I have more then one page to print on my HP Deskjet F2180 it always prints the second page first which is genrally a few lines describing the sender or something similar or irelevent.

How can I make it it print the firat page first?

EDITOR'S NOTE: That's probably a printer properties setting. Go to Control Panel / Printers / then rightclick on the desired printer icon and select Printing Preferences or Properties.

Posted by:

01 Dec 2009


I am having some trouble with my printer, it is a HP Deskjet F4180, and whenever I print anything (usually things off the internet) it will print the first few pages fine in normal english, then after that it will print the rest in some sort of foriegn language... it doesnt have symbols in it but just letters all mixed up. Could you please help me!!! Thanks

Posted by:

peter parker
14 Aug 2018

Hello, i am facing an issue the black ink won't print on my printer. I thought it was out of ink but replaced it and the black ink still won't print again. It acts like its printing but it's almost like the black printing components aren't working. What can i do?

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