Ink cartridges cannot be recognized - How to fix

Ink cartridge not recognized printer error can instantly reduce a perfectly working  printer to a desk ornament...often for no apparent reason.

Find out what causes the Cannot recognize following ink cartridges errors and more importantly what you can do about it - on this page.

It can present like this with Epson printer:

Epson ink cartridge jnot recognized

or HP printer:

HP Printer cartridges missing

or Canon printer:

MP240 cartridges not recognized

...and regardless of what the message reads or what printer make/model you use, the outcome is usually very similar - printer out of action!

What causes cartridges not recognized?

Depending on the make and model of your printer and the cartridges inside it, Ink cartridges cannot be recognized could mean just about anything from running low on ink to your friendly printer company remotely tweaking your printer. (Yes, they can...and do!)

How to fix cartridges not recognized?

Working out why your printer cartridge(s) are not getting recognized is a matter of gradually eliminating the most likely causes - until you find the one triggering the error. 

Note: There is no need to complete all the steps - after locating what's causing the problem.

Try this...

  1. Power printer OFF and unplug power cord from (or switch off at) power point for 5 minutes or so.
  2. Plug power cord in and power the printer back ON.
  3. If Cannot recognize following ink cartridges error displays again, try to work out which colour is triggering it. You can usually find this on the printer LCD with the recognition error or your PC monitor, if you use the printer connected to a PC. If you can't see any colour mentioned, try scrolling down the LCD display.
    Note: If no ink error is to be found, try printing something - to check if the problem is still there. Powering the printer off/on may have cleared the recognition error.
    If it didn't ...
  4. Open printer cover and check all ink cartridges are installed in correct positions.
  5. Confirm all cartridges are the correct part numbers for your printer. If say your Epson printer takes T202 cartridges, it will not recognize T200, T220, T252 or any other cartridge - even if it looks the same and fits ok. 
  6. Remove all cartridges from printer.
  7. Inspect cartridge chips and confirm that none have fallen off. If inky, wipe chip contacts with damp tissue then polish with dry.
  8. Confirm all cartridges have adequate ink (inside), particularly if genuine Epson or Brother. Top up any cartridge(s) close to or empty. 
  9. If you have a chip resetter, reset any ink cartridges displaying ink out.
  10. If you don't have a chip resetter, replace any 'empty' reading cartridges.
  11. If you use a late model Epson printer and ARC (auto reset chip) refillable cartridges or a CISS, you may have to perform the complete cartridge replacement process (as guided by the printer) 2 - 3 times in a row to get rid of the not recognized error. Don't give up! The message should eventually change to 'Installed ink cartridge is not genuine Epson' followed by a question like: 'Use installed ink cartridges'..? Click Proceed and the printer should resume working. 
  12. Power printer OFF/ON.
    If the error is still displayed...
  13. Check that it is for the same colour. If there are other close to empty cartridges, another one can turn 'empty' during the process.
    If it is (for same colour) - repeat steps 9-11
    If it is for another colour...
  14. Remove all cartridges from printer & power printer OFF/ON.
  15. Install one cartridge in printer, close the cartridge door and/or press the 'ink' button (depending on printer).
  16. Wait for the printer to check and recognize the cartridge.     
  17. If the installed cartridge is now recognized, repeat steps 15-17 with next cartridge. If  the cartridge is not recognized, remove it and repeat step 15-17 using different cartridge (in it's correct slot). Keep in mind that all the 'missing' cartridges will report as cartridge not recognized  (or whatever the cartridge error is with your printer) - until they are installed.
  18. Repeat step 15-17 until all cartridges are installed
  19. Power printer OFF & ON.

How did you go? If the recognition error is gone now - well done!

If the error is still on!

Is the cartridge (really) genuine?

New and correctly installed genuine ink cartridge should get recognized by the printer. If it doesn't and you've completed the above steps, the cartridge could be counterfeit (even if it looks genuine).

Check your printer makers website for information on how to identify fake and genuine ink cartridges and what to do about it.

Is the cartridge non-genuine?

Non genuine (compatible, refillable etc) ink cartridges are more likely to fail printer recognition (than genuine). Why? Some printer models are built to only recognize new, original ink and reject any non genuine or even refilled ink cartridges. 

This doesn't necessarily mean you can't refill the cartridges or use non genuine ones, but it can make it more difficult and/or you may need some additional gear (chip resetter, refillable cartridges etc) to make it possible.

Having said that, there is a growing number of new printer models that will not recognize non genuine or refilled ink cartridges, no matter how hard you try.

Consider this when shopping for a new printer!   Contact us for more information.

Is the error limited to one colour?

If the recognition error always involves same cartridge (colour) position in the printer, other colours recognize ok and you've replaced the suspect cartridge already, the printer/cartridge chip connector could be damaged. Remove all ink cartridges and compare the chip connectors inside printer (where the cartridge chips make contact). If any look different, there's your problem.

Received a printer driver update?

If you received a driver update from Epson or HP, downloaded printer drivers from Brother, Epson or HP or even updated your operating system AND your printer has stopped working with cannot recognize following cartridges (or similar) error for more than one cartridge, you may have received a firmware update and your cartridge recognition problem could well be permanent.

All printer companies periodically offer registered printer users driver updates to patch newly found issues with printer hardware and/or software. Great..!

The problem is that some printer makers (Epson & HP) have started using driver updates as a vehicle to deliver unwanted files (printer firmware) to unsuspecting customers (you).

And if a customer accepts the update in good faith, the firmware virus installs to the printer and can tweak it - to stop recognizing certain cartridges. This can take effect straight away, at some pre-set time in the future or even when a cartridge is replaced or refilled next time.

To make the situation even worse, printer firmware can not be uninstalled in most cases, not easily anyway. Re-installing printer drivers, restoring system from backup or even moving your printer to another computer are all waste of time. Firmware installs directly to the printer memory so there's no easy way to get at it.

The only sensible way to fix a firmware problem is to replace the printer with a more user friendly brand.

What about firmware downgrade..?

Firmware downgrade programs are available for some printers and can solve firmware related cartridge recognition issues, BUT downgrading printer firmware can increase it's security risk and make it more vulnerable to hacking, so may not be an ideal solution - unless you know what you're doing. And it's not free either. Expect to pay $30+

Might be easier to replace printer...

It often is easier, cheaper and ultimately safer to buy a new, more user friendly printer than trying to correct firmware problems.

So...what's a good printer ?

Canon build nice inkjet printers and they don't play games with firmware - like the other printer makers. Canon is the only printer company you can trust - to provide safe inkjet printer drivers and firmware updates with no negative consequences. Consider this when shopping for a new ink printer!

Note: This is the situation now (May 2022) and could well change in the future.

Contact us for more info.