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How to Fix a Canon Printer That Won’t Print Black Ink?

How to Fix a Canon Printer That Won’t Print Black Ink?

We’ve all had issues with our printer cartridges. Struggling to get printer inks to work how you want is almost a rite of passage. One of the more common cartridge issues is that the black ink just stops working altogether. I have definitely struggled with this and have ended up with a few strange prints without black ink. What is the way to fix this?

When your Canon printer doesn’t print black ink, you can try switching it on again, print a quality diagnostic report, and check ink levels. Next, check the cartridges and the printhead. The printhead may need some cleaning to get the black ink working again. 

Since this is such a common issue, and googling usually doesn’t help, we’ve consolidated information from experts in one place across the Internet. So, if your printer has been struggling with black ink, try following some of the troubleshooting steps we list below. 

How To Fix Black Ink Printing Issues

If you notice the black ink in your Canon printer is running low or not printing at all, you can take a few steps. Treat these steps as troubleshooting, so keep moving ahead with each step, all the way to the bottom of the article, so you know you have addressed your issue from all ends. If the issue is fixed from the steps in the middle, you can skip to the end. 

Basic Troubleshooting

We start out by addressing the ways that you can typically fix the issue of printing without black ink. Here’s how you can do this: 

  1. Restart the printer: usually, unplugging and restarting your machine in technological spaces can resolve minor glitches and issues. So, unplug your printer and disconnect it from your computer. Plug it back on, and then try printing again. 
  2. Print out a test: When you switch your printer back on, you should print a ‘Quality Diagnostic Report.’ This is a test report that you can find through the printer’s LCD screen. This report helps you see how the printer performs and if all the ink cartridges are working correctly.
  3. Check ink levels: On your printer, open up the body to see the cartridges and ensure that the ink levels are okay. In some cases, you may just face this issue because you have run out of black ink. It is the most commonly used ink so you can run out of it faster than other types of ink. 

It is hard to determine the ink levels in some cases, but there are other ways to check and see if the ink is running low. For example, your Canon printer will alert you if the black ink level is too low to print a document. 

Related: How to Fix a Canon Printer That Can’t Find a WiFi Network

Checking The Ink Cartridge

Next, you will want to focus your attention on the ink cartridges. If you have any that are running low, replace them. Next, note their placement and positioning. Sometimes, if you have placed the cartridges incorrectly, they cannot be engaged by the Canon printer. So, always make sure they snap into place so that the printer can then use them for printing. 

Photo: Canon

A typical mistake we can make is to forget to remove the tape over the top of the cartridge when it is new. If you just replaced your black ink, this is an issue to keep an eye out for. Also, make sure dirt and accumulated ink isn’t clogging up your cartridge. You can clean the clog up using a small pin to create open space again. 

Cartridges Are Not Recognized

A common issue that can arise is that the Canon printer simply isn’t recognizing the black ink cartridge and thus, cannot use it. Try using another black ink cartridge that you know is compatible with your Canon printer. If that seems to work, that means you are facing a compatibility issue. This can indicate that your new cartridge is not up to the task, and you need to replace it with a different kind. 

Checking The Printhead

So what is a printhead in the first place? A printhead is a component of your printer. The printhead is responsible for transferring the ink directly onto the printing paper. In most cases, the mechanism uses ink droplets in nozzles that can reach a specific point. Sometimes, some of the nozzles can get clogged, or it may have an issue transferring black ink onto the paper. In this case, you probably have to clean the Printhead. 

Automatic Cleaning

The quickest way to take care of an issue with clogged nozzles is to do an automatic cleaning for the printhead. Your Canon printer is likely to have an automatic cleaning feature. You can access this feature using the printer’s display and getting to the maintenance menu. Run the cleaning once, and if it doesn’t work, try rerunning it. However, do not run it too many times. Also, note that this process can also affect ink levels. 

Related: How to Make Canon Printer Print Without Color Cartridge

Manual Cleaning

For older models that don’t include automatic cleaning methods, you can use a paper towel to clean the inside of the printhead. This process is relatively easy and just takes a few minutes to carry out: 

  1. Switch your printer off, and disconnect it from any plugs or devices.
  2. Tear up a paper towel and fold it until its width is about half an inch. 
  3. Find the printhead and the roller used to transfer paper.
  4. Secure the towel to the roller with tape.
  5. Add a few drops of water to the middle of the towel. 
  6. Leave the towel for about 15 minutes.
  7. When you come back, you will see a collection of ink on the towel. This ink is a mix of all the inks in the cartridges.
  8. Repeat the process until you see distinct colors. 
  9. Switch on your printer, and try printing a new page again.

If the issue was that the printhead was ineffective, this should solve your problem.


It’s pretty frustrating not seeing your Canon printer perform as promised. However, a few simple fixes can eliminate the problem and make things easier. If none of these fixes help, you might want to contact a service center or a Canon customer support helpline.