Say what?

Common error messages and pop-ups explained and removed.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  December 5, 2007

Common error messages and pop-ups explained and removed.


This document failed to print

Says: Simply that, plus it identifies the document and printer in question, and the time the document was sent to print.

Explanation: There are numerous reasons why a document might not print. The printer could be turned off or have a paper jam, it may be out of ink or toner, or there may be a problem with its drivers (PC software).

Solution: Start by checking the basics. Check your printer is turned on, that its connection cables are attached, and that it is loaded up with the correct size of paper (in the relevant paper tray). Next check the printer's consumables - in other words, whether it has run out of ink or toner. Most printers now display consumable levels via their driver software, so open any document, hit Ctrl/P, and instead of OK choose ‘Properties'. This opens the driver app, with which to assess the ink situation.

If consumables aren't the issue and you're using a network printer, it could be another user's print job blocking the way. Click Start/Settings/Printers & Faxes and double-click the printer in question to see what docs are in the print queue and how they're progressing. If a colleague's document has caused an error, ask them to delete it from the print queue.

Still stuck? Try opening Notepad (Start/Programs/Accessories), jotting down some words, and printing that document. If this works, this suggests the software you're trying to print from is the problem, so restart that particular application and start over again.

Last but not least, you could be experiencing a print driver issue.

Therefore, try printing using Windows' generic printer driver by running the ‘Add a printer' wizard from Control Panel/Settings/Printers. At the ‘Install Printer Software' screen, select ‘Generic' under Manufacturer and ‘Generic/Text Only' under Printers. When next asked ‘Do You Want To Use This Printer As The Default Printer?', choose No and hit Next. At the next screen, tell Windows to print a test page. If this page prints without issue, then the problem is likely with your installed printer driver, so either update this online or reinstall it using the printer's original driver disc.

Web & e-mail

Site certificate problem

Says: This IE message reads: ‘Information you exchange with this site cannot be viewed or changed by others. However, there is a problem with the site's security certificate. Do you want to proceed? Yes/No'.

Explanation: Website certificates are used to prove that you are connecting to the site you think you're connecting to. Several so-called third-party ‘Certification Authorities' are employed to determine the validity of sites, acting as what IT types call ‘trusted third parties'.

The problem here is that your system believes you don't trust the certification provider a website is using, and as such every time you log onto that site this pesky pop-up appears warning you.

Solution (power users only): Open Internet Explorer, choose Tools/Internet Options, click on the Content tab and hit ‘Certificates'. Now click the small right arrow to navigate to the ‘Untrusted Publishers' tab. Then highlight the problem publisher and click Remove.

Nonsecure page item

Says: ‘This page contains both secure and insecure items. Do you want to display the nonsecure items?'

Explanation: By ‘items', this Internet Explorer message refers to elements such as ads and images that it deems potential security risks.

Solution: In IE go to Tools/Internet Options. Click the Security tab and ‘Custom Level'. In the Security Settings window, scroll down to ‘Display mixed content', then select ‘Enable' and OK. Message dumped!

Mail cannot be delivered

Any number of error messages can be displayed, from ‘Your message has encountered delivery problems to the following recipients', to ‘Failed to deliver to domain' and the more worrying sounding, ‘The attached message had PERMANENT fatal delivery errors!'

Explanation: Normally a message bounces back because of human error, such as a mistyped user name (the part before the @ in an e-mail address) or domain (after the @). (In this case, you might receive one of the ‘PERMANENT fatal' message, ‘User Not Known' or ‘Unable To Deliver to Destination Domain' messages back.)

Another reason for mail bouncing back can be a wrongly configured mail server - either yours or that of the person you're mailing. A useful tool to find out which server is at fault can be found at This site checks e-mail addresses to tell you which server is causing the bounce back.

If your e-mail is not bouncing back but its recipient keeps telling you they've not received it, this could be due to their server's spam filter identifying it as spam and therefore not delivering it.

Solution: If a mail bounces back, first check the user name and domain (e-mail address) you're using and resend.

Still no joy? Use the website mentioned above to assess whether there's a server problem. If so, contact the relevant system administrator.

If a spam filter seems to be the issue, send this one problematic e-mail from a separate account (such as your Hotmail). Thereafter, ask its recipient to request their IT administrator removes your IP server address from their spam list.

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