Article updated 15/11/2018

Is your Samsung, HP, Brother, Canon, Ricoh or Epson printer not recognising a replacement ink or toner cartridge? This is something that we find our customers experience every now and again so you definitely aren’t alone!

A printer not recognising a new ink or toner cartridge is one of the most common issues that print owners experience when changing or replacing an empty one, irrespective of what brand printer you have, and one that our customers frequently ask us about. This can mostly affect your printer when you a replacing compatible, remanufactured or refilled ink cartridges and you may be looking for a way to fix this issue. Read below where we’ll explain why this happens and how to fix your printer.


Why does this happen?

Printer is not recognising my cartridge

Computer error message when printer cartridge not recognised.

There may be occasions when, after installing a new ink or toner cartridge in your printer, you might see a message on your printer like:

  • Your printer says ‘toner is not compatible
  • Your printer says ‘printer cartridge not detected‘ or your printer cannot detect ink.
  • A low or empty level of ink and toner displayed on your computer
  • A HP Printer displaying ‘HP Cartridges locked’ or ‘Cartridge Protection enabled’
  • A message on your printer warning “no cartridge installed” (or words to that effect)
  • Flashing warning lights displayed on your printer


Here are the main reasons why your printer would display the above error messages:

Internal memory reset:

Your printer should automatically recognise when you install a new cartridge and reset its internal memory, ensuring that it’s displaying full ink and toner levels etc. However, sometimes the printer just doesn’t do that correctly and believes that the old one, or no cartridge, is currently inserted instead.

Protective strips:

If you haven’t removed protective covers or plastic strips that are attached to a new cartridge when you first take it out of its packaging, the printer will definitely fail to register the new cartridge and this will cause you problems.

Dirty / damaged contacts:

The new ink or toner cartridge has a number of metal contacts that connect to similar metal contacts in the printer allowing them to communicate. Dirt or damage on the contacts inside the printer can prevent the contacts from connecting and can stop the printer from reading the information on the chip.

HP Cartridge Protection enabled

Whilst updating firmware is often necessary, if you have a HP printer an update may be installed to ‘enable cartridge protection’ this then prevents these cartridges form working in any other printer and also any compatible cartridges from working in your printer. This can be switched off. See how to fix HP cartridges locked to another printer.

Incorrect consumable installed:

A rare occasion but this does happen! If a drum or fuser or other maintenance item was accidentally purchased instead of a toner or ink cartridge, the printer will not work and still needs a new ink or toner.

Ink cartridge has not been inserted correctly:

There is also the off chance that an ink cartridge or toner cartridge wasn’t fully clicked in to it’s designated slot and so the printer can’t detect the new ink cartridge and displays the error message. All you’ll need to do is lift your cartridge cover again and double check all of the inserted cartridges to make sure that they have been clicked in, then close the cover again and try once more.


Firmware / software updates:

This is one of the main causes for a compatible ink or toner to not work in your printer. Modern printers automatically connect to the internet but pc software or internal printer software (firmware) will often need to be updated at the request of the printer. These updates can often fix bugs but more recently printer manufacturers have used updates as a way to stop compatible cartridges from working in your printer. Often delivering messages like ‘cartridge not compatible‘ or ‘cartridge not recognized.’

This is a very grey area of legality for printer manufacturers as it’s against the law for them to stop you from using a compatible or remanufactured cartridge in your printer. However, they can get around this by refreshing the software frequently to new versions that the chips on remanufactured cartridges no longer register to, rendering them unusable.

If you do plan to use compatible or reman inks and toners, it may be wise to disable automatic software updates on your printer. You can do that on your computer via the printer properties (Control panel > printers and devices > right click your printer in the list > properties > software tab > un-tick automatically update your printer).



So, here’s what to do – 8 steps to try


The first thing to do is not to panic! Whether you’ve bought them from us or another supplier, there really shouldn’t be any reason why a good quality original or compatible cartridge wouldn’t work in your printer so with a little patience, we’ll get you through it. Try the following 8 steps to correct your issue.


How to reset the printer memory:

  1. Remove your new cartridge and replace it with the old one. Leave your printer and go and do something else for 10 minutes.
  2. Replace the old cartridge with the new one again.These two steps alone often resolve the issue, so see if your printer now recognises your new cartridges. However, if you’re still having trouble…
  3. Remove the new cartridge. Make sure you place it in a clean and safe place where the cartridge or the surface won’t be damaged.
  4. Turn the printer off button using its power button
  5. Unplug your printer at the wall. It’s important to do both steps 4 and 5 separately, as some printers can remain in sleep mode if you’ve only switched off the power button on the printer control panel. Leave your printer like this for about 10 minutes or so.
  6. Plug your printer back in at the wall (but don’t press the power button just yet)
  7. Insert your new cartridge
  8. Press the power button on your printer

Hopefully, you should be able to now print with your new compatible ink or toner cartridge!

If this doesn’t work…

Clean the metal contacts:

The metal contacts can usually be seen on one side, the back of a toner cartridge or back of an ink cartridge and look like a flat piece of copper, metal or even like circuit board (please note that some ink cartridges have no contacts at all). Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Power down and unplug your printer (for inkjet printers ignore this step as cartridges must be removed before powering off)
  2. Carefully remove your toner or ink cartridge and place to one side on a flat surface where it will be safe.
  3. Inspect the cartridge for the metal contacts
  4. Inspect the inside of the printer for the connection point
  5. With a lint free / dry cloth lightly wipe the contacts on both cartridges and printer to remove any dirt, or residue being careful not to cause any damage.
  6. Replace the cartridges in the printer
  7. Power the printer back on
  8. Try to print again.

This should now fix any issues you may have with dirty contacts or microchips.


Contact pins inside printer.


Contact chip/pins on toner cartridge


Still having trouble?

Oh dear, if you are still having trouble there are a few more things to check:

  • Make sure all protective covers and strips were removed from your new cartridge when it was installed. You normally get instructions in the box that will indicate how to do this.
  • Make sure that you purchased the correct consumable. Believe me this does happen to the best of us. Make sure you purchased an ink or toner and not a new drum unit or other maintenance item. If you need help, we can check this for you.
  • Update your printer software by following the instructions manual on how to update the firmware. You can normally do this by visiting the manufacturer website and searching for your printer.

If you have exhausted all of these options, then there’s a possibility that you may have faulty cartridge or faulty microchip and providing you made your purchase with a reputable supplier, you should be covered. Also with modern technology in printers some manufacturers are making it even harder for you to use a compatible or remanufactured cartridge such as HP locking cartridges to a specific printer.

If this is the case, simply get in touch with your supplier and they will check if you qualify for a refund or exchange it for a brand new cartridge.


What about Refilled ink cartridges?

If you’ve used a refill service or refilled ink / toner cartridges yourself, you may encounter any number of issues. Ink cartridges that have been refilled can damage the integrity of the ink cartridge which can sometimes cause leaks in your printer. The manufacturers chip would also need to be reset as the printer may read the chip and think that it is empty. Once a cartridge has been used until it is empty the chip records that the cartridge has no remaining ink or toner and so when it’s refilled, the chip needs to be reset. If this isn’t done, then the printer will fail to recognise the cartridge. You would need special tools to reset the chip and as firmware is updated on the printer,the chip may need to be reset again.


How to get a refilled cartridge to work

One thing to try to get around any issues with refilled inks is to go to your printers general settings and navigate to preferences and switch off any setting that would be set to send usage data to the printer manufacturer. The message might say something like, ‘Store anonymous usage information’. This setting is normally default to on, and it’s the setting that allows the printer to monitor the use of the cartridges. By switching it off, you’re telling the printer it can’t monitor what inks are being used and it should allow refilled inks to work. However, this would prevent you from knowing how much ink is left in the cartridges at any given time.

If you did purchase your cartridge from us, you’ll be covered by our 3-year guarantee for our compatible ink and toner and a 6 month guarantee on any original cartridge and we’ll be more than happy to help you out. You can contact us on 0845 365 3605 or click live chat on




Did this work for you? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @TonerGiant.


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