Troubleshooting a Printer Setup

Printers are a great channel for order notifications, but history has proven that printers in general can also create their own set of weird issues to troubleshoot. On average, we don't see a lot of printer problems, but there are some we see that are more common than others. In this article, we'll break those particular issues down and provide possible solutions.

Diagnosis

Let's start by looking at the situation to see if there are any clues to help figure out what's going on.

Check for Errors

Look in the Windows application event log for errors.  Those may help point you in the right direction. If you need help grabbing the Windows Event Logs, please see the article here: How To Retrieve the Windows Application Event Logs.

Order Status

What happens when orders enter the system?

  1. Orders are not received by the server at all (the Event Log does not contain entries showing that orders are received)
  2. Orders are received by the server, but nothing prints at all
  3. The order prints, but it looks totally garbled and unreadable
  4. The order prints and looks mostly readable, but it's cut off

Troubleshooting

Orders Aren't Printing When an Online Order Is Submitted

This could happen for any number of reasons. Let's explore the more common reasons for this scenario:

The Printer App Service Isn't Running

The printer app service is a Windows service that runs in the background, even when the printer app configuration has been closed out. There are circumstances, however, that will stop the printer app service, making it so order notifications don't get printed.

Restarting the computer is a good first step.  This will restart the printing service and potentially reset other related components.

The Printer Isn't Listed in the Printer App Dropdown List

When you go to configure the printer app after installing, the printer you're looking to use can be found via the dropdown:

This problem relates to the cardinal rule of using the printer app: the printer you select must be listed in the Windows printer list. In other words, the printer must first be installed on the Windows machine (it can be connected either directly or over the network) before it can be used in the printer app.

Keep in mind that some POS systems have their own dedicated connections to certain printers, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the printer has been installed within Windows.

Please visit your printer manufacturer's web site to download the latest drivers.

Note on Epson Receipt Printers

For Epson printers, please see our help article on installing the EPSON Advanced Printer Driver (APD).

Once you have the printer installed in Windows, you should see it available in the printer app dropdown; from there you can select it and click the Save Settings button in the printer app window.

The Time / Date / Time Zone on the Windows Machine Isn't Set Correctly

If the time, date, and/or time zone on the Windows machine running the printer app are configured incorrectly, print jobs generated by online orders will not print out. The following Microsoft article explains how to check and configure these settings:

Setting Your Windows Clock

Also be sure to sync with an Internet time server after configuring your time settings. Steps for doing so can be found via a separate link, located near the end of the above Microsoft article.

The Print Results Look Wrong

Printing a Test Order

In most cases, you can use the Print Test button to run a sample job to your receipt printer for testing purposes:

If the printer has a Windows status of anything but "Ready" ("Offline", "Not Available", etc.), this will cause *any* print jobs (printer app or otherwise) from printing successfully to your selected printer. Some reasons for this might be that the printer is off, disconnected, jammed or out of ink. The exact causes of a Windows-based printer issue are beyond the scope of this document, however. You'll want to refer to the printer manufacturer's or Microsoft's help documentation for further assistance. 

There are a few different reasons that the test print could look wrong:

  • Incorrect text vs. graphics mode driver setting
  • Incorrect margins
  • Incorrect page size

The Test Print is Totally Garbled and Unreadable

This most often occurs when there's a mismatch between the printer driver and the type of print-out that the app is sending.  There are two main types of printer drivers:

  • Graphical printing
  • Text-mode printing

The default print format for the app is a Graphical Printout.  If your printer is set for text-mode printing, it will look totally garbled and unreadable.  Similarly, a text-mode job sent to a graphical print driver will often look bad.

Checking for Text Mode

  1. Under Printers and Faxes, right click the Printer and select Printer Properties
  2. Go to the Advanced tab
  3. Look at the value for the "Driver" field
  4. If the Driver says Generic / Text Only, your printer is in text mode.  Otherwise, it is most likely using a Graphical printing driver (not always, though)

Switching the App to Text Mode

First, try switching the app to Text Mode.

  1. Open the Online Ordering Configuration app
  2. Click the Advanced toggle at the bottom to open the advanced settings
  3. Check the "Text Mode" box for the appropriate printer
  4. Click Print Test to try another print
  5. If the test print works, then click Save Settings and Restart Service to apply the latest changes

Updating Your Driver

If text mode printing did not solve your issue, start by unchecking any Text Mode boxes in configuration that you had set.

You'll want to visit the manufacturer's website to download and install the latest version of that printer's driver (or if your printer is an EPSON, you want to make sure to download and install the  EPSON Advanced Printer Driver (APD).

The Test Print is Cut Off

This generally happens when the margins are wrong, or the paper size is wrong within the printer.

Adjusting the Paper Size

  1. Under Printers and Faxes, right click the Printer and select Printer Properties
  2. Go to the Advanced tab
  3. Click the Printing Defaults button
  4. Click the Advanced button
    1. From this point, exact steps may vary depending on your printer.  The goal is to find the current paper size setting, and adjust it to a proper one, like "Roll Paper" with the proper width of the current paper loaded into your printer
  5. Most printers will have another Advanced button at this point
    1. Click the Advanced button (if available) and look for a Paper Size option within the list of available options
    2. Set the Paper Size to the proper paper size
    3. Click OK to all the open windows to save the new settings
  6. If there is no Advanced button, explore the various options until you locate a Paper Size option

Adjusting the Margins

If the printing is only slightly cut off, adjusting the margins may help.  Within the Online Ordering configuration app, the margins are configurable.

Margin Units

The units are 1/96 of an inch, so entering a value of 96 will produce a 1-inch margin

Getting Help

If you're still having trouble after following the steps outlined in this article, please reach out to us via phone, live chat or email at help@opendining.net and we'll be happy to further assist. When submitting a help request, please have the make/model of your printer handy (e.g. "Epson TM-T88V"), as well as the connection method (e.g. "USB").

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