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Is the printer at fault? Or the program? One way to troubleshoot is to try printing to a virtual printer.

I just set up my new Windows 7 Professional system. I installed Office 2007 and HP Photosmart C309A and transferred my documents from my XP system. Everything works great except that I can't print from Excel 2007. HP says it's Microsoft's fault and Microsoft says it's HP's fault so no one will help me. It looks like, from HP's site, that I'm not alone and no one has an answer. I've uninstalled and reinstalled, disconnected, reconnected, booted, and rebooted and still get the same error message, "The file could not be printed due to an error on HP Photosmart C309A." No error numbers or reference numbers.

In this excerpt from Answercast #49, I look at a case where a printer cannot print from Microsoft Excel and suggest a work-around.

Can't print

So, I don't have a specific answer to your problem.

  • I'm assuming that you've done all of the appropriate things of making sure that the printer is connected, that it's turned on; you know, the really basic stuff.

  • You've gone on well past that, by reinstalling and reinstalling drivers and so forth.

Print to a virtual printer

One test that I'm going to suggest you do, that I think will help identify where the problem lies at least, is to go out and get CutePDF.

  • CutePDF is a printer driver that will print your document not to a printer but to a PDF file.

  • It actually creates a PDF file of the document that's being printed.

If that works in Excel, then you know that Excel can print.

Now, print the pdf!

You might then be able to take the document and view it in a PDF reader like Acrobat Reader or Foxit:

  • And having done so, try printing from that application.

It is possible that:

  • a) This could be a work around, but...

  • b) This then will either confirm or deny that the problem is with the printer or not.

Is it the printer or Excel?

  • If Foxit (or one of the PDF displaying applications) can print the document;

  • Then clearly the problem centers around Excel.

I'm not really sure what I would recommend in a case like that. Part of me says you might want to consider reinstalling Office, but that's really just grasping at straws.

  • If on the other hand Foxit fails or if the PDF reader fails to print the document and the error message is the same;

  • You will know that the problem is with the printer or the printer software.

So, that's about the best advice I can give you to help narrow it down a little bit more. If the problem really is only with Excel, then I would certainly give this PDF approach a try as a work around.. if, for no other reason.

Article C5760 - September 1, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Billy Bob
September 2, 2012 6:10 PM

I'm a bit unclear. I think the conclusions are reversed.

"If Foxit (or one of the PDF displaying applications) can print the document, then clearly the problem centers around Excel."

"If, on the other hand, Foxit fails - or if the PDF reader fails to print the document and the error message is the same, you will know that the problem is with the printer, or the printer software."

Maybe my troubleshooting skills are off, but I would have drawn the opposite conclusions.

Harrys Dad
September 3, 2012 1:46 PM

I remember seeing a very similar problem to this myself. A work colleague of mine could not print to a networked printer from Excel (Other applications, including Office applications could print fine, but not Excel). After trying everything I could think of, plus a few that I couldn't and attempted things I'd read in forums - nothing worked, I decided to go for the reinstall of Office...

...When I looked in Add/Remove Programs (This was an XP Machine), there were 3 'versions' of Office installed. All 2007, but there was a Trial Version, preinstalled on the machine when it was bought. A 'Basic' edition and a 'Professional' Edition. 'Pro' was the one we wanted to keep, so my plan was to remove them all, reboot the machine and reinstall 'pro' from scratch.

I didn't need to...

...Upon uninstalling the Trial version, and the Basic version, leaving just the one Professional version, Excel 'magically' decided to print just fine. Maybe those other installs were causing a clash somehow.

I would suggest to your questioner that they check there are no 'other' versions of Office installed, like a Trial version preinstalled on their machine, and only their own version, which they're planning on using is the only one installed.

Would be interesting to hear if that gets them anywhere.

Strikingly similar problem to the one I had. Just thought I'd share my experience with this issue.

September 4, 2012 3:57 PM

When I first got my Windows 7 laptop, I had a problem with my HP printer. My problem was getting the printer driver installed.

Because it was an older printer, Windows 7 didn't have the printer driver. I seem to recall having a similar circular problem - Microsoft suggesting I download a driver from HP and HP telling me to just use Windows Update.

Of course my biggest problem was that we had not yet switched to high-speed internet and the new laptop does not have a modem.

Once i got the correct driver on my system and got the network port set up correctly, my printing problems ended.

Ron Webb
September 7, 2012 12:31 PM

This could be one of those rare occassions where nothing seems to fix the problem. I had such a problem a few years back and it turned out to be something called UpperFilters and Lowerfilters. Deleting the correct key will fix the problem if it is a case of UpperFilter or LowerFilter problems.

Here is a site with good instructions on how to find the registry key possibly causing problems in printing.

I hope that this is of some help.

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