Joe Maller.com

HP Photosmart Pro B9180 “All Print Heads are missing…”

We’ve got an HP Photosmart Pro B9180 printer on the office network. Whenever anyone prints, the printer queue flashes this error message, “All Print Heads are missing. Please install and snap print heads in completely,” then proceeds to print normally.

HP B9180: All Print Heads are missing. Please install and snap print heads in completely.

After going over this for about an hour on the phone with HP’s Tech Support, and after much cable swapping, HP sent a replacement printer. Which, of course, has the same problem.

I’m fairly convinced there’s a bug either in the HP printer’s firmware, or, more likely, in their Mac printer drivers.

Here’s what I know:

  • The error only shows if the printer is connected with an ethernet cable, either over a network or by direct patch to a single machine.
  • The error happens regardless of which application is printing.
  • I’ve seen the error on Intel and PPC Macs, running Mac OS 10.5.3 through 10.5.5.
  • Printer firmware is up to date.
  • Internal printer diagnostics report no problems with the print heads.
  • The printers seem to be working correctly in every other way. Prints look great.

HP’s support has been very good throughout this. My only gripe is that they probably should have sent replacement print heads alongside the replacement printer. The included instructions had me transfer the heads from the old printer to the new one. Since the print heads are, at very least, being reported as a problem, it would be nice if I could test those too. HP did include a full set of ink cartridges, which was generous.

My followup call to HP got me nowhere, which was what I expected. But hopefully that will get the issue promoted up to their engineering bug tracker.

Other references to this problem:

postmortem: After little more than a year, we eventually just gave up on the printer. Software bugs ended up being a small issue compared to internal ink spray, clogs, streaks and general malfeasance. The HP 9180 was replaced with an Epson 3800 which has been flawless for the past 6 months. I think I heard our ten year old HP 8000 LaserJet laughing as the still-too-new inkjet was escorted from the building.


  • Dan

    Yeah, this is a known issue (at least elsewhere) for the HP. It’s a driver-level bug. Oh well :) Just ignore it.

  • Adam

    Mine does this too. It works fine though. Three cheers for quality drivers and good QA.

  • Eric

    I know this in an old thread, but when I searched for this problem I didn’t find many comments about this.

    I have the same problem too, and HP’s e-mail support about it was insultingly unhelpful. It was clear either someone (or something) picked key words out of my query and returned a stock response. I should keep replying until an intelligent human answers the question and admits it’s a driver-level problem. Grrrrrrrrr…

    Otherwise the printer works great.

  • Robert

    Exactly the same problem here, found this page through Google and I guess I will keep ignoring it as well, as the printer prints wihtout a problem…

  • Paul

    I’ve just installed a completely new set of HP ink cartridges on my B9810 and get the error message that all of them are missing or damaged, on an Intel running 10.5.6 connected via usb. Can’t print a thing or get past the error message by turning off, rebooting or any other intelligent practice. Any thoughts before I start sobbing like a baby?

    • Rich

      I’m having the same problem with cartridges reading missing or damaged. Did you ever figure this out?

      • http://www.joemaller.com Joe

        No, this just seems to be the way HP is going to leave it. While purely cosmetic, this is annoys everyone who uses the printer and is pushing our office back towards Epson for our next 13×19 inkjet printer.

  • Alan

    Mine started saying that the yellow/magenta needed replacement. Eventually after a while the printer would not print. I ordered a new set of print heads at a cost of over $200. HP has dates printed on the outside of the boxes. Past those dates, they will not work, brand new in the box. Installed they will not work. It says printheads need to be replaced. So I had to send the printheads back. I did get a refund, but now I don’t have this printer until I reorder. Watch those dates!! I’m not certain that this is the problem, but I had the printer looked at and that is what the technician diagnosed. Never, ever will I purchase another HP anything, period. I have a z3100ps gp also. No support after warranty is done. Any questions after that cost you over $30 if you want help. That was just checking to see what type of canvas was best to use in it and how to protect the prints they wanted that for. I have a little Epson R200 that has been pumping out prints when I ask it too for over 5 years now. Just feed it ink and it prints. They may use more ink, but at least they work without any nasty surprises.

  • Kevin Lee

    Very frustrating. Apple should be concerned as well. I’m migrating back to Apple after four or five years on PCs. The HP 9180 worked perfectly most of the time with my PCs. But now, on top of all the other issues one has to deal with in the move to Mac – SERIOUS problems get the MacBook Pro and 27″ IMac to play nice with the printer. Ironic, I bought the Macs because of the beautiful display and the idea of working with my photos on this great equipment. Really, really starting to question the wisdom of my decision to go to Apple and stay loyal to HP for many years. FWIW I just downloaded Apple’s drivers today (5/12/10) and the bug is still there.

  • http://www.preciouslittlebirdy.blogspot.com/ Angela

    I’ve got this problem but only since upgrading to 10.6 I posted on the HP Forums, they were helpful but I got nowhere.
    http://tinyurl.com/394v9gc

    There is nothing wrong with the printheads, it prints beautifully. I can’t believe 10.6 came out in August 2009 and HP still haven’t sorted this problem. This printer is sold as a ‘Professional’ printer. Lots of print studios use Mac’s. HP need to sort this out.

  • Anonymous

    This is very serious problem. You have replaced your printer but same problem occur. I think you should go to HP service center and tell them to resolve your problem.