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Issue #560: April 15-21, 2018

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Q: I am using Outlook 2016 for calendar and email on an HP laptop. My printer is an HP 6830 Office Jet. Last week, when I printed out my calendar, it printed in black and white, not color. I’ve run diagnostics from Microsoft and Hewlett Packard with no luck. This evening I printed next week’s calendar and one of the tasks that were scheduled to go more than one day printed in color, but the rest was black and white. I am a wit’s end. There are no errors to report; all systems check OK.  Print preview shows B/W, but settings are for color print. Seems to me a problem with Outlook, but again diagnostics indicates all is well. MS forums only refer to a laser printer that had this problem, not an Officejet. Please be the sorcerer I know you are, and solve this one.

– David S.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I am far from a sorcerer, David.  I have no supernatural powers, nor do I command evil spirits, wield black magic, nor practice witchery.  However, to quote myself from several years ago (I.G.T.M. Issue # 397, March 1, 2015) “I am the sole holder of the geekudan black belt in the mystical art of Google-Fu.  One of my special powers is the ability to coerce search engines to cough-up answers to questions on just about any topic.”  This super-power serves me well in my role as “The Geek” in bringing you this column, and I lean heavily on this skill when trying to answer questions like yours.  After all, I can’t actually see the problem occurring or put my hands on your PC to look at settings, nor can I re-create the problem on one of my own systems, since hardware and software configurations have trillions of possible combinations.  Therefore, I rely on my mystical powers to bring forth answers from the Internet – by force if necessary.  A little luck helps too.

But let’s get serious about your problem.  The first thing I’ll say is that if you’re seeing black and white in the print preview, it’s unrealistic to expect the actual printout to be in color.  After all, the preview is a representation of what will be sent to the printer.  Since the preview is rendering in black and white, you should expect the printout to be black and white.  I’d be surprised if you got any other result.

Now, you said “settings are for color print,” but my question back to you would be “which settings?”  There are at least two, possibly three places that I can think of where color can be turned on and off, and that doesn’t include the printer simply falling back to printing in black and white when one of your ink colors runs low, which I hope you have checked for and eliminated as a possible cause.

More than any other thing on your system, it is the printer driver that determines exactly what the computer sends over to the printer to be put on paper.  I can tell you with certainty that Outlook doesn’t have its own printer driver.  The only drivers that will come into play are those specific to the printer to which you’re sending the output.   Unless you choose a specific driver when printing, it uses whatever driver has been identified to windows as the “default” driver.  I’m guessing that it’s safe to assume that you are certain which printer is actually selected when you initiate a print job?  If not, double check to make sure you’ve selected what you intended.  Then, drill down into the “Print Options” on the print dialog, and again into the “Properties” dialog for the printer.  This dialog has the same appearance of the properties dialog that you pull up from the Windows “Devices and Printers” feature, however the settings can differ radically.  Again, make sure all the settings are as you intend.

If you discover that you indeed have the correct printer selected, and you verify that it is correctly configured to print in color when printing from inside Outlook, I have two final things you might try.  Both are contained in a chatroom thread that I located for you, and both have to do with making minor tweaks inside of Outlook.  Check out TinyURL.com/IGTM-0560 for more information.  Good luck, and happy computing!

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