So, feature this–you’re happily working along in your office, at home or at work, and you decide to print your progress. You fire up your HP LaserJet printer, wait for it to finish the printing job, and…nothing. The only thing that your printer spits out at you is an error code–PCL XL error–and not one sheet of the task that you’ve assigned it. Today, we’re going to take a look at the reasons this error code might crop up, as well as how you can easily go about fixing it. Like many such errors, it’s going to require a little bit of techie elbow grease and some menu diving, but if you follow along with our instructions, we’ll have your printer up and running in no time.
If there’s one thing that we can continually fault computer technology for, it’s for constantly using error codes that don’t have any discernable context or meaning for the layperson. This used to be especially prevalent on Windows PCs, but with the advent of Windows 10, the operating system is both more stable and has become better about telling users what’s wrong and how to fix it. The PCL XL error, however, has little to do with the usual operating system culprits. This one belongs entirely to HP and its line of printers.
Thankfully, this isn’t a particularly dire error code, and it never means that your printer is in any state of dire harm. Mostly, this is a kink that can be worked out through software solutions, but it might take trial through a couple of different ones before you end up with something that works.
Don’t worry; we have your back every step of the way.
Still, it’s understandable that people jumped to alarmed conclusions when they see this error code. Compared to the usual printer-associated problems–paper jams, low ink levels, formatting errors, and page alignment–this is something that’s immediately harder to fix. The number of times it’s popped up on online support forums is a testament to this being not only a frustrating issue but one that’s more widespread than it should be.
In this article, we’ll hit every angle of the problem, so that you’re left with a solution. We’ll start by examining the PCL XL error, and will take a look at what it means and what types of printer hardware it can show up on. After that, we’ll walk you through a couple of viable solutions, until we find one that works. We’ll start with the less complex repair avenues first, and get more complicated as we go along. Finally, we’ll direct you to further resources to help with resolving the problem, and will also provide links throughout the article to further elaboration on the PCL XL error.
What is the PCL XL Error?
The PCL XL error is a problem that affects printers; specifically, it tends to pop up during computer-to-printer communication. It’s particularly obstructive because it tends to outright halt all printer activity until it’s resolved, and in office environments that use printers from the same manufacturers–HP–it can be an even bigger nuisance.
Like all computer errors, however, there is an identifiable reason that it becomes an issue at all, and it all stems back to one particular problem. The PCL XL error shows up when your printer has difficulty reading a certain part of the document that you’re trying to print. What part that is, and why it’s having difficult at all, can change, but the root of the problem is that your HP printer doesn’t know how to interpret certain aspects of the printing assignment.
When this happens, the printer foregoes printing at all and instead displays the error message. In some isolated instances, the printer does print, but the resulting paper is a mess of unrecognizable characters or a messy format that usually wasn’t present the user was previewing the job.
Hardware Affected by the PCL XL Error
Because this is an issue isolated to HP printers, that’s the only type of hardware that you should expect to see this on. However, this can be confusing for many users due to the fact that there’s often no clear indicator that it’s a problem with a piece of HP hardware, at all. For this reason, it’s easily mistaken as a Windows error, or even an error having to do with the make and model of the computer that a person is using.
Rest assured that you won’t see this unless you’re using an HP LaserJet printer, and when you do, you won’t have to mess with any of the mechanical functions of the printer itself. This is a software issue, and we’re going to resolve it within the software.
Solutions to the PCL XL Error
In order to find the proper solution, we’re going to walk you through a few different steps that will increase in complexity as we go. This problem has been around for a while, so there are several different solutions that people have used to resolve it.
Because we’d rather give you the simplest answer possible, we’ll start with the tried-and-true solutions to error messages, first. After all, most computer equipment is now designed to be “smart” enough to attempt resolving most problems without your interference.
Things to Try First
Before anything else, you’re going to want to try some of the obvious stuff. Most of the time, this won’t outright fix the problem, but if the computer-to-printer communication error is happening due to some tertiary issue elsewhere in the operating system (hey, it happens!) then this will give your machine a chance to sort out problems in its memory and other common functions.
First things first:
- Resetting Your Hardware: No, we’re not trying to pull one over with an IT Crowd joke, but have you tried turning it off and on again? Occasionally, communications issues between devices can be resolved by resetting the involved hardware, so power down your computer and printer, and then boot each back up again.
- Performing Updates: We’ll touch on this a bit more shortly, but both Windows and Mac operating systems regularly patch in updates for all kinds of different reasons. When this is happening, connected hardware can be unexpectedly affected until the update is complete, so check to make sure you’re not actively updating anything.
- Recalibrate Printer: This is another potentially easy fix that can randomly resolve computer-to-printer communications issues. From within your printer’s settings on your computer, run a calibration test and try printing a test page.
Of course, none of these tricks relate specifically to the PCL XL error that we’re talking about, but that doesn’t mean they won’t occasionally fix the problem outright. Because they’re simple diagnostic measures, you should try each before proceeding.
Change the Printer’s Optimization Settings
The first thing that we’re going to try is making sure that your printer’s settings are aligned with the job that you’re trying to print. Because the PCL XL error stems from your printer not knowing how to interpret certain text and vectors present on the page, we’re going to adjust the settings manually to ensure that it can correctly read them.
- Head to your printer settings. If you’re using Windows 10, simply enter “Devices and Printers” in the Start Menu search bar. If you’re using Windows 7 or 8, head to the Control Panel, and select the same option.
- From the listed devices locate your HP LaserJet printer that you’re having trouble with.
- Right-click on the HP LaserJet printer and select Printing Preferences.
- Click on the Advanced tab.
- From there, locate the Print Data Optimization category, and change the setting to Optimize for Text and Vector.
- Click Apply.
Now, reboot your computer and printer one more time, and try printing the document again. If it works, then congratulations! If it doesn’t, we have one more troubleshooting method that should help you to resolve the problem.
The next thing that we’re going to do is double check your printer’s software drivers, to ensure that they’re up to date. This will require a little bit of digging and a little bit of downloading but isn’t terribly difficult to accomplish.
- First, make sure that you know the make and model of your HP LaserJet printer.
- Next, head to the HP Support Site and enter your printer’s information in the search entry.
- Find and select your printer in the list of search results.
- Locate the Driver-Product Installation Software heading and find the most recent release of your device’s drivers.
- Download the driver to a safe place on your computer, and then run the installation .exe.
- Once the installation has finished, try running the printing task again.
If you’ve gone to the length of manually installing the most recent drivers for your printer, then you’ve almost certainly fixed the PCL XL error that was muddling your productivity. If you have any further questions about this particular error code or anything else that typically plagues certain types of printers, let us know in the comments below! We’re always looking for new topics to write on, and more importantly, common problems to solve!