Canon i9900 printer problem and solution

In the very last paragraph of my post on Buying a photo printer I noted that my friend Dale had been having problems with his Canon i9900, the same printer I have.

I’ve printed hundreds of images on my printer and only a few have shown problems but they were so minor I let them pass. However, in printing this tendril image the problem looked considerably worse. It looked like either a smudge from too much ink or possibly some extra ink stuck to one of the feed rollers.

Tendril Card

I just got off the phone with Dale and he gave me a handy tip to try to solve the problem:

1. Take the paper out of the printer.

2. Turn the printer on.

3. With the printer on, hold down the form feed button (the other button, there are only two: power and the form feed) and watch the status light.

4. When the status light has blinked three times, let go. The printer will make some noise and attempt to feed paper and it will keep doing this cycle 4-5 times. When it’s done you can put paper back in and print.

I did this maintenance routine one time and reprinted the tendrils that were smudging and they turned out perfectly. I printed 4 copies and each one was perfect.

I don’t think there’s any downside to doing this cleaning routine, it uses no ink like a head cleaning does so I plan to do it after any long printing session just to keep the rollers clean.

Thanks Dale.


  1. Charlie: I think those kinds of smudges come from the print head having excessive ink on it. I suggest you open the printer up, take all the ink cartridges out, take the head out, and clean it with some cotton swabs and alcohol.

    Let me know if that helps.

  2. Hi Richard
    TY so much for your attention. I forgot to mention that I had also removed the print head and thoroughly rinsed it. The foam pad under the head was also soaked with ink which I blotted up.

    The printer sat for about 7 months without use, and I noticed several cartridges which seemed to drip a bit–I replaced those, both black and dark blue.

    Maybe I should replace all and see what happens.

  3. Charlie: The other thing that can happen in time is paper can absorb water from the atmosphere and curl slightly and when it does it can touch the print head causing problems. I have this problem in the summer here in Connecticut where the humidity is terrible. I have an air conditioner in my office which I use just to keep my paper dry. It seems to help some.

    The other consideration is that the i9900 is an older printer… maybe time for a newer model. The Pro 9000 is an excellent printer and the ones I used lasted for many years of thousands of prints. Just a thought.

  4. Hi Richard,
    I do see some curls in the 4×6 paper, though its really dry here. I inherited this 9900 from a client–it has little photo use. I’d love to be able to use it, since the ink is easier and cheaper and it seems way faster than a pro 9000–plus I have it and a bunch of extra ink! I do see the pro9000 as cheap as 265.00 new. I’d have to sell some glass!

    It’s a funny little pattern and always in the same place—seems really black. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but I don’t want to shoot a good one either. Let me know if you have any resources which will help me clean beyond the head–rollers etc.

    all the best,

  5. My i9900 uses up colors when I’m only printing black.
    Settings are black only and to make sure all colors are set at maximum negative.

    I have changed cartridges on all but they are still draining.
    As to changing the heads, I don’t even know where to start as it is not like any other canon that I ever had.

    I started with the all black setting and reduced the colors and saved it as a different name, but still had the same problem. I did this as Canon tech support said that grey scale printing uses colors.

  6. Don: It’s true that other colors are used to print black on almost all printers, not just the older i9900. But, all of these printers also use ink periodically when they move a bit of ink through the head to keep things unclogged (automatic maintenance). I can’t remember how much the i9900 does this but it probably does a bit of it.

    Taking the head out is very easy: take all the cartridges out and unclip the head and pull it out. That’s not going to solve your question about using colors when you print black but it’s easy to do.

  7. I have just been given an i9950 printer which was in perfect working condition. Since installing it together with a new driver, downloaded from the Canon site, and compatible with this model, I am getting a band of greenish tint on the right side of all my photo prints. This is on all prints no matter what size , A4 or 6X4.

    I have tried the various cleaning options , and the roller cleaning option without success. Where do I go from here. Have you any suggestions?

  8. Elkan: I’d take all the ink cartridges out, take the head out and clean it with a q-tip and alcohol. May take a few q-tips but get it completely clean. Put it all back together then realign it all and try again. If memory serves, that’s what I did with similar problems.

    Let me know.

  9. Thanks Richard, I shall try it and let you know how I get on. As you may realise I am in the UK and the time zone may make carrying this out a little protracted.

  10. Hi Richard

    I have now taken out the print head and cleaned it very well. Realigned it and done a deep cleaning. Regretably there is no improvement. I think I will need to think replacement. Thanks for your advice and help.


  11. Elkan: If the entire print was discolored I’d recommend replacing one or more cartridges, but since it’s only on one side of the print I think it may be software related. But, truthfully, I’m not really sure. The good news is, Canon’s newer dye based printers, like the Pixma Pro 9000 II are excellent and not too expensive.

  12. I am having a problem with my i9900, the Green and Photo Cyan will not flow and the Photo Majenta is quite light on the test print. I have done the head cleaning regular and deep several times with no luck, installed new ink tanks, still no go. Cleaned the Print Head, Finally replaced the print head, cleaned the fiber contacts, and using the Power and Restart buttons reset the waste ink absorber. Even talked to a Cannon Rep….Nothing. Thinking about re-installing the driver, and possibly manually cleaning the waste ink absorber. To my knowledge no error light came on to indicate a problem. I am running out of ideas of how to solve the problem. The printer is about 7 yrs old, never had any issues before. Any suggestions ?

  13. Lynn: You’ve tried everything I can think of. Certainly reinstall the driver and try printing from another application but your problem sounds like a hardware issue, not software. Good luck, keep at it but don’t toss much more money at a 7 year old printer, many newer models available with better inks and more reliability.

  14. My i9900 just started with a strange issue. With one program only – Bricscad (a drafting program) it acts as if it is printing and the page comes out blank. Any other application I use works fine. I have used this same version of Bricscad with this same printer for years and never had an issue. Ever heard of this?

  15. Canon i9950…just the problem ..But it did work, you have to restart computer as well! ( iMac )

  16. Hello, Regarding the i9900. I am having a problem, the Group 1 colours are NOT working. the Group 2 are fine. All ink cartridges are original Canon but no matter how many times I clean the Group 1, nothing. I asked Canon and they were no help!. I asked if soaking the ink holder might help but they said do not do that!. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Thank you, John.

  17. John: Have you tried making a test print so make sure it’s not a driver/computer problem? Look in the manual for how to generate a test print with the printer alone. If the problem is done in the test print then it’s a driver issue and you can start troubleshooting the computer end. If the test print is bad then the problem is in the head or cartridges as you think.

  18. My Canon I9900 will not feed paper even pressing the form feed button. I get an error message to shut down and try again but it never will feed paper. All this began after replacing 2 ink cartridges.

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