How to Clear a Printer Paper Jam

By Techwalla Computers Editor

The flashing error code that indicates a jammed printer is the digital-age equivalent of a flat tire. Sooner or later it happens to everyone, so you'd better know how to get things moving again if you want to finish your print job.

Step 1

Turn the printer off and on to see if it can automatically clear some or all of the jam. Many printers provide an error-code listing on the front panel display for the area where the jam occurred. If your printer shows an error code, be sure and check the printer manual to see if that identifies the area of the printer where the jam occurred.

Step 2

Turn off the printer.

Step 3

Remove any paper trays. Inspect them for wrinkled or damaged paper.

Step 4

Open any other doors that give access to the printer's paper path and to the toner or ink cartridge.

Step 5

If necessary, remove the toner or ink cartridge. Place it in a bag or away from light to avoid damaging it.

Step 6

If you find a piece of jammed paper, remove it by holding it with both hands and pulling firmly (see A). The goal is to keep the paper from tearing. If several pieces are jammed together, try pulling out the middle piece first to loosen the jam.

Step 7

If the paper does tear, try rotating the roller gears manually to free the paper (see B). Don't force anything, though.

Step 8

Replace the toner or ink cartridge and paper trays, close any doors you opened and turn the printer back on.

Step 9

If the printer paper jam message still appears, then there is still some paper in the printer. Reinspect the paper path.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you get toner or ink on your clothing, wipe it off with a dry cloth and then launder the clothing in cold water.
  • Watch out for loose toner or ink on jammed paper, and do your best to avoid spilling it on yourself or the printer. If a little bit of loose toner or ink gets in the printer, though, it should clear after a few sheets are printed.