A Quick Fix for a Printer Not Recognizing Ink Cartridges as Full

You’ve just installed a new cartridge into your printer but then a chill runs down your spine as you see the ink monitor registering the cartridge as empty!

“How can these cartridges be empty? I just opened them!”

At this point, the most common reaction is to swear and fume about how you got an empty cartridge or throw your hands in the air. However, there is a relatively quick solution, and an explanation as to why this is happening.

First of all, let’s talk about the printer’s built-in visual “ink monitor” function.

The printer’s ink monitor gauge lets you see an ESTIMATE of how much ink is remaining in the cartridge.

The ink monitor displays ink volumes that are fairly close to the amount of ink inside the reservoir but since there is no internal measuring device, it cannot detect the ACTUAL volume of ink.

The ink monitor works by starting from a known “Full” level when a cartridge is first installed, and then as each page is printed – The ink monitor deducts a hypothetical amount of ink from the starting value of each cartridge according to how much ink it estimates is being used.

So, assuming that you start with new cartridges, the machine will normally reset its internal memory to reflect that the cartridges are 100% full. As the printer is used, it estimates how much ink was used for each printed page, and subtracts it from the previous level.

Periodically however, a problem can occur where your printer’s internal memory cache does not properly reset itself to “full” when new cartridges are installed. This is actually what is happening when the printer’s ink monitor is telling you that your newly installed cartridges are empty.

How many times has rebooting your computer fixed some weird problem you were having?

The ink monitor problem is similar to that, but sometimes, you can solve the problem quickly by doing the following.

  • First, re-install your old cartridges (with the printer power is on) — wait for the printer’s cycle to finish
  • Second, power OFF your printer by pressing its on/off button.
  • Then, unplug your printer from its power source.
  • Reboot your computer.
  • Clean the electrical contact points on the NEW cartridges so they are bright and shiny. (You can use Windex or some water)
  • Plug your printer back in to its power source.
  • Press your printer’s on/off button to turn on the printer.
  • When your printer is finished with its warmup routine, press the “install cartridge” button on your printer.
  • Remove the old empty cartridge(s) once again.
  • Reinstall the new cartridge(s).

This will normally clear any memory routines keeping the ink monitor from resetting properly and ensure the cartridge is making good electrical contact.

Unplugging your printer may seem a little extreme, but for troubleshooting purposes it’s good to remove all variables. There have been times when unplugging has made the difference.

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