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Providing Quality Cartridges Since 1999


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2015-11-24T11:10:40+00:00

How to Clear the Canon Check Ink 1686 and 1688 Error Messages

How to Clear the Canon Check Ink 1686 and 1688 Error Messages

The Canon “Check Ink 1686” and  “Check Ink 1688” are low ink warnings used by an entire series of inkjet printers that take the PG-540, PG-540XL, CL-541 and CL-541XL ink cartridges. Canons official text used to describe the error states “The ink may have run out” (Check Ink 1686) and “The ink has run out” (Check Ink 1688). Whatever error you are receiving your printer will stop when it believes the cartridge is empty and refuse to print without intervention from you. There is however a way you can carry on printing as we will discuss below…

1686 thin

Why am I getting this message?

If you have just installed a new remanufactured cartridge or have just refilled your own cartridge, you may be surprised to see this error message so quickly. This is due to the fact that these Canon printers have no way of looking inside the cartridge or detecting fresh ink. Instead the cartridge just monitors how many pages have been printed and the average page coverage since it was first installed into a printer. From this information your printer estimates the ink level of the cartridge and when it believes the ink cartridge is running low/empty will present you with the “Check Ink” 1686 or 1688 message. As a result of this way of estimating ink levels, even an original Canon ink cartridge will almost certainly have some ink left when your printer warns you it is empty.

Quick Video Guide

Can I get around this error message?

Indeed you can and it is exceptionally easy. This series of Canon printers allows you to continue printing with a single button press and will usually give this prompt in a fairly sizable message once it detects that the cartridge may be empty. Simply hold down your printers STOP/RESET/RESUME button for five seconds and then release. Whilst the name with which the button is referred to may change, the symbol it is represented with will always remain the same.

Resume button printer highlight.As shown above the symbol that represents the RESUME button is an upside-down triangle in a circle. It may be grey, pink or even red in appearance depending upon the model of your printer. Holding down this button for five seconds indicates to your printer that you are aware of this low/empty cartridge estimate but would like to continue printing regardless. From here the ink level will still read as being low, but you can continue printing with this cartridge until the ink physically runs out and the quality of the prints deteriorates as a result.

Is there any risk in doing this?

None at all. The continued use of any physically empty cartridge can result in the printhead of the cartridge burning out. However as long as you keep an eye on the print quality produced by the cartridge you can negate the risk of potential damage, leaving you free to refill or recycle the empty cartridge as you see fit. In the worst case scenario that you don’t notice the ink having run out and end up burning out your printhead, you can simply replace the cartridge for a new one with no damage having been sustained by your printer.

What printers does this apply to?

You can use the above advice to bypass the 1686 and 1688 errors with the Canon Pixma MG2150, Pixma MG2250, Pixma MG3150, Pixma MG3155, Pixma MG3250, Pixma MG3550, Pixma MG4150, Pixma MG4250, Pixma MX375, Pixma MX395, Pixma MX435, Pixma MX455, Pixma MX515 and Pixma MX525. These printers take the popular Canon PG-540, Cl-541, PG-540XL and CL-541XL range of ink cartridges.


About the author

I have been involved in the printer industry since I was 18 and have been an employee of Refresh Cartridges since early 2009. I am a dedicated family man, gamer, music fan and friend to all. I write the majority of the content here on Igloo and am responsible for its upkeep.

Refresh Cartridges

186 comments

  1. Richard

    Worked great. Thanks for the info.

  2. Andy

    you are a life saver!!

  3. Jill

    Was stuck as the printer is new and this never happened with my old Canon. Am very grateful and relieved. Will remember Refresh Cartridges next time!

  4. Vivian

    Thanks for sharing! I held the button down and…ta da….it worked.

  5. Carlie S

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  6. Karen

    Thank you it worked! I had to hold it down for ten seconds though. Kisses!

  7. elrian21

    thank u ….it really work…man

  8. Emma b

    Bloody fab. You are a star!!

  9. Lush girls

    Thank you for your explanation! We struggled with our printer but thanks to you we found thé solution!
    Love, from Lush store Ghent (Belgium) xxxxxxxx

  10. Carlotta

    Thanks! It really worked! It's great!!

  11. dave

    Cheers what a great solution. just need the scanner part. Saved my bacon

  12. Mike

    Thank You!

    1. Katharina

      DAAAAANKE!!!!!

  13. Marco

    Klopt dank je!!!!!!!

  14. Charles

    Thank you Matthew!

  15. Pablo

    awesome man

  16. Dave

    Worked great. First time no messing or hiccups Thanks for the info Your a true gent

  17. Laura

    OMG thank you, thank you and thank you. I just wasted 2 hours thinking my cartridge had dried up and trying to fix it. Now I'm good to go!

  18. Ronald V

    Matt you are a true God send the 1688 Error message advice worked like magic !! R V

  19. kevin

    Matt, Thanks for info, now I am able to refill with ink and continue to print, Great and thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. vivi

    you saved my life, now I can turn in my HW on time thanks!

  21. thirushan

    thanks for your help

  22. Marcus Man

    Thank you so much for this. I had changed to a reconditioned cartridge, and I printed about 10 pages without a problem before the error appeared. All sorted thanks to your advice!

  23. Bob

    Wonderful, works a bomb on my MG3250. Can you tell me how to completely disengage the counter? Using resetter V3400.exe seem to only re-set the Ink Pad Full problem.

  24. tony

    thank you for help.god bless

  25. Daniel

    Thanks you so much man!

  26. Foad

    Thank you! 😀

  27. Foad

    Excuse me for double comment, i would say, it’s work on PIXMA MG2440
    Thank you. 😀

  28. ROB

    WORKED A TREAT. THANK YOU :O)

  29. Vicky

    Thanksssssss

  30. Tammy

    Thanks, Matthew from here in Ontario, Canada! Totally worked!

  31. roger newman

    what about canon mx452 with 240xl cartridges ??

  32. Stephen

    Worked great on my Canon,thank you

  33. Lee

    Thank you! This worked so well! Panicked whenever I saw there was no ink even though I had only just refilled it.

  34. mohammad

    tank you very much …

    kiss for you .

  35. Margaret Cooper

    Hi, my iPad sends the message to the canon MG3500 and the paper hoes through the printer but no words print? There is enough Ink, I have printed a test page and this was ok, any ideas on why it won't print? It was ok then I pressed the blank print button instead of colour, now it won't print anything.

  36. woww

    u sir, deserve a cookie. (Y)

  37. russ

    nice one !!

  38. mohak

    great !!! it worked. thanks

  39. canon

    thanks, it worked.

  40. jen

    THANK YOU!!!! I thought I was going to have to go buy ANOTHER new printer as I just tried 2 new cartridges in it and within a few prints kept telling me I was empty then the error code came up. Thank you!!!!

  41. Kalibra

    It's working again! No need buy another cartridge. Thak's!

  42. Bill

    Great help, worked on a MG4250

  43. Sam

    Perfect thank you !!

  44. Pauline

    Brilliant, it works. Thanks

  45. John

    Cleared first issue ( code 1688 ) but now it says color ink volume unknown… What to do now? Thanks

    1. RefreshCarts

      The ink volume will remain as unknown as the printer has no way of detecting physical ink levels. Your will however now allow you to continue printing until the ink physically runs out.

      1. Cheryl

        So the code has cleared but is saying low ink levels which I understand but it won’t print. Any other suggestions? Kind regards

        1. RefreshCarts

          The low ink warning is indeed normal. This should not however stop you printing.

          Am I correct in assuming your printer is going through the motions of printing but not putting ink to paper? If so I would suggest running some cleaning cycles to pull the ink through.

          If however your printer is refusing to print I would recommend checking for any messages on an a attached computer. Hopefully you will be able to get more information as to the nature of the problem this way.

  46. Brian Tweheyo

    Thanks man, it worked like magic.

  47. Jun

    It worked like magic. It saved me buying another printer. Thank you.

  48. Jun

    It worked like magic! Thank you.

  49. Nigel

    Thanks Matthew it worked a treat on my new Canon MG3500 series printer. I thought this was an odd error to receive when I had just recently refilled both black and colour cartridges.

  50. Anse

    Thank you so much, saved my day.

  51. Hansol Heo

    Danke!!!!!!! wegen Fucking error code bisjetzt hab ich ink was alles nachgefüllt ist nicht benutzt!!!

  52. jagdeep

    Thanks a lot dear.thank uuuuu

  53. Ben

    Thank you. I have an MG3200 and was trying to use remanufactured cartridges but I was getting a cartridge empty message after about 5 pages. I was thinking the cartridges were faulty. I will try this next time and hope it works.

  54. Ian

    thanks was pulling my hair out trying to get it to print …great work around

  55. prettyshygirl

    thank you

  56. Genevieve

    Thank you!

  57. izabela

    thanks man ! 🙂

  58. andi

    thanks,.it's work

  59. Andreja

    Hi. Can you also help with the quality of printing on MXY455. It won't print red… What should I do?

  60. Kanishka

    Thanks a ton!!

  61. Squiregirl

    Thank you for the help! Very much appreciated!

  62. carl

    wow great info

  63. MAlik

    thanks dear really apricated

  64. vince7777777

    so helpful. than you so much.

    1. melody

      hi my scanner has a problem showing here " the printer is in use or error has occurred, check status code 2,140,21
      thank you.

  65. Meisie

    thanks a lot man much apreciated

  66. Senthil

    great!!! awesome…it works.thanks.

  67. adele

    wow .. amazing this work. thanks alot!

  68. jonjosand

    why am I getting mirror printing?

  69. toliverisr659

    Great, at last a fix!

  70. Laki Printeri

    Please tell me procedure to reset Support Code 5B02 ? I try with Service Tools v.4200 but not fixed problem.

  71. chris

    Thanks a lot. This error has been bugging me for a day so the next day and went and bought another cartridge. This too is a compatible one and gave the same error message. After following the simple trick it worked! Now I have a spare cartridge! And saved me buying another printer !!

  72. Richard Phillips

    Hi. how do i override code 1401 on my canon pixma mx396 without buying new cartridges?

  73. Edna

    Okay, so it worked. What worked? I have the same problem but cannot see where the solution has been posted.

  74. Adrian

    Thank you! Saved me a lot of stress. Thank you again

  75. Ethan

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!

    You saved me!

  76. SOPE

    THIS DOESNÈT WORK FOR MX472 HELP!!!!!!!

  77. Joseph Coelho

    Thank you so much – why the error screen can't offer up this info is a mystery – would save so much time!!!

  78. Shelly Somerset

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

  79. joni

    thank you!!! for this to work, press it for no less than five seconds!

  80. Anthony

    WoopWoop!Thank U!!!!1688 removed!Cheers.

  81. Nicholas Johnson

    Very goo. This worked for me. Nice of Canon to include the feature.

  82. marie

    yes ! that's works ! thanks a lot 🙂

  83. jcry

    thnks it's work

  84. dan

    so for the rest of its life you have to do this every time??

    1. RefreshCarts

      No. Once this prompt has been given you can continue printing with this cartridge until the ink physically runs out and the quality of the prints deteriorates as a result.

  85. AussieUncleAl

    Many thanks for taking the time to post. This worked Iimmediately on my neighbour's Pixma MX396 when it indicated a low colour ink status on a brandnew Canon colour cartridge. More strength to your bow arm..

  86. RAUL COLON

    thank you very much

  87. Janet Nici

    HELP!! It didn't work for MX472. Any ideas what I can do? I JUST replaced the black ink cartridge with a compatible PG-240XXL — only about 10 pages were printed before I got the 1688 cartridge that it was out of black ink!!! HELP!!

  88. Joe

    This worked great for my MX459. Wish though my levels will reset. Thanks!

  89. melody

    plese help me, my scanner seems to have a problem it shows here " printer is in use or error has occurred, check status, code 2,140,21
    thank, please send your reply to my gmail

  90. tino

    wow,its woks thank u so much…….

  91. reason

    Thanks l was struggling with my printer for 4 hours just for that error code 1688

  92. Clemence

    YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!
    Thank you so much!!!!

  93. Julia

    How can I reset the low ink warning for Pixma e510? Thanks 🙂

  94. Ted

    Thanks, Greetings from Poland

  95. HEATHER

    THANK YOU!!!

  96. Jeni

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! Weirdly fixing the printer just made my day. You rock.

  97. NigelJ

    Thanks, problem sorted on MX475

  98. Birgit

    Very useful!!! Thank you so much for a quick fix solution. Birgit

  99. Brown

    It took me a lot of time because of "1688". The printer is good now. Thank you so much!

    1. RefreshCarts

      Thanks for getting in touch. I am happy to hear that this helped.

  100. Moezy

    Thank you!! My bald spots will now grow back.

  101. Bill Howard

    Thanks you soooo much – I have gone through several replacement cartridges and was losing the plot with how quickly the error message appeared, even though it was evident there was plenty of ink left in the cartridge. I was on the verge of taking a sledgehammer to the printer. Thanks again. Sanity restored (until the next "gotcha"

  102. Kristine

    Helped alot. Thank you.

  103. Laurie

    Wow…thanks! BTW, has a way been found to get past using the manufacturer's ink cartridges for the Canon Pixma MX 722? Last I knew, there were no generic replacements.

  104. CSh

    Great 1688 gone!!

  105. Nico

    MERCI !!!!!!!!

  106. moteague

    Worked to perfection. I was about to smash my printer with a hammer.

  107. Rachel

    Yay!!! It works on MG2450!!! Thanks a lot!!!!

  108. Rob

    Thanks!

  109. Nena

    Thank you so much. The instructions you gave were very helpful. I was able to get my printer to work. I was already thinking I was gonna have to buy a new cartridge but instead everything is working well.

  110. Gilbert Obor

    very informative thanks for the info

  111. Aisha

    OMG !! WORKED !! THANK YOU !!!

  112. Helmader

    God bless you. Thank´s!

  113. Deb

    Thanks so much.

  114. AUTUMN

    THANK YOU! I CAN FINALLY STOP BEATING MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL!

  115. Craig Souter

    I have the MX535 and have just replaced the ink cartridges with compatible cartridges. I'm still getting an error message saying "Black ink is running low" and "Colour ink is running low". I've tried holding down the reset/stop button for over a minute, but nothing happens. Is there anything else I can do?

    1. RefreshCarts

      The low ink messages should not do anything to prevent you printing in themselves. However once the printer believes that the cartridge is empty and presents you with the 1686 or 1688 message then the prompt is needed to continue. The printer will however still think the cartridge is empty, but will continue printing regardless after pressing STOP/RESET/RESUME.

  116. Nicola

    Matthew

    Thank you so much for your help. You saved me from throwing my printer out of the window. In future instead of stressing for days, i will contact you.
    Very helpful
    Thank you again 🙂

  117. Seth Crosby

    HOLD DOWN the stop button!!
    Ah HAH!! Thanks so much!!!

  118. sariefah

    it's working thanks you so much

  119. Iryna

    THANK YOU very much! The best advice on the Internet! I checked everything out there and nothing worked, but this!

  120. Charlotte

    OMG it worked!!!! Thank you so much for this!!! My printer was running out of ink after just 100 sheets and it was costing a fortune. I was about to buy a new printer so you've just saved me a load of money!

  121. xue yong

    not working

  122. Rana

    Brilliant, peace of information !!

    Great work !

    keep it up my friend

  123. Laurie

    Thank you, I didn't have there reset/resume. so I heard down the STOP BUTTON and it worked!

  124. pamela wilson

    I did this but im still getting the error. im also using a empty color cartridge. I have two blinking lights under the power button. HELP PLEASE!!

  125. ludotek

    sweet and soo helpful! what else?!"?

  126. ACas

    thanks so much for this!!!!

  127. Carol

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  128. Sayed

    Thank you so much

  129. Rasha

    You saved a student's life! Thank you so much!! <3

    1. sam

      same omg

  130. Candy Bowen

    Fast and easy thank you so much!

  131. Nadine

    Thank you really very very much!!

    1. Glen Ottawa

      Thank You very much, really big help. You made my date!. Thanks again.

  132. FloDoppel

    OMG! Thank you for this helpful article <3!!!!

  133. Laura

    Thank you! I appreciate it! Very helpful! Problem solved! I have the canon MX459

  134. John

    Thank you!!!!

  135. sadic

    thanks a lot

  136. JANNET CABUTAJE

    it's working thanks you so much

  137. Sue

    Thanks so very much! Saved me a lot of frustration!

  138. Isabele

    It really worked! Life saver! Thanks a lot.

  139. Nick

    This cleared my printer error, however now the printer won't respond when I ask it to print and just says color ink level Unknown. I have a Cannon MX450. I only need to print in black and white, but do I really need to go out and buy a new color cartridge to print in black and white?

  140. ashraf

    pls help me with canon ipf750 indicate low ink level

  141. Tony Chapman

    Your comments seem to be very helpful for most people but they do not appear to be relevant to my MX535. Is it possible to remove the ink warning completely under Windows 10. Thank you

  142. Ian Sewell

    Ha! Nice one.

  143. sayber

    Thank you infinitely .. impeccably walking with a MG2440, cartridge CL-446 indeed … there is still ink in the cartridge, but the indicator light blinks 16 times (code 1688). With the tip above it works well.

  144. UKRefugee

    Wow! Thanks for that! Was getting very frustrated after refilling ink cartridges and getting error messages…

    1. nieyda

      thank you so much for your info 🙂

  145. Sandy

    Thankyou so very much for this – it saved my sanity :o)

  146. giftedg

    excellent . cheers

  147. Elle

    I had changed to re-conditioned cartridges and was getting the error message. Held the reset button (didn't know it was there) for a few seconds. Had to do it twice once for black and then again for the colour. Now working fine

    Thanks for the information

  148. nithin

    thankuu . thanku.. it worked

  149. yadvinder singh

    thankyou so much for this!!!!

  150. Amy

    thank you so much- been trying to sort this out for ages!

  151. Richard

    Thank you so much. Did not understand why everything on my printer locked. You make me very happy!

  152. Rebecca

    Oh my gosh – thank you!! I was so frustrated, but this fix was quick and easy, and I can finish my project!!

  153. Chirag

    Very nice it fixed my printer thank you

  154. Devon

    Any long term work around to avoid buying a color cartridge: I just tried filling mine with black ink?

  155. Julio

    It worked! Thanks.

  156. Tan

    Thanks, this fixes the block, but doesn't allow me to access any of the menu. Anything that can be done there?

  157. judbayr

    thank you so much for this!!! super helpful!! POWER!

  158. Wendy Brown

    Thank you – from Southern Alberta, Canada – I appreciate your sharing of your knowledge!

  159. Eva

    Thank you so much, I was about to throw the fucking printer out of the window!!!

  160. Ahmed

    Thanks, extremely useful

  161. Angel Bullock

    Great! thank you for this info.!

  162. Yvonne M McIntosh

    Yeah…me too although my first thought was to hit the MF’er with a hammer. Freaking Canon bullshit.

  163. vkl

    Thank you! You are Awesome!

  164. Ryan

    To whom it may concern,
    I tried resetting and deep cleaning as you have instructed, but my Color cartridge is displaying that it contains bare minimal fluid now. Which should have been at least a quarter full or higher, if I recall correctly, as it’s been some time now that it hasn’t worked and my back is kind of against the wall now. It all started when I tried to replace the black cartridge, but sadly it stopped detecting the black cartridge altogether. As I’ve said, I followed the steps and now neither (Color & Black) cartridges are working. Please help, I’m a college student and the inconvenience of it not working has been tolling.

  165. Jemma

    You’re an absolute lifesaver! After spending all night trying to download their software and failing (mac is unsupported and unreliable) I stumbled upon your site and tried it out. It worked perfectly.

  166. Linh

    I’ve tried resetting the printer and that did not work, but this worked! Thank you.

  167. Arpana

    thank you so much for this article. Saved me lot of stress. You are a star! i have MX530 and got 1688 today and wont allow printing further. thanks to your article , tried the reset button and printing resumed. Its now giving the message ‘volume unknown’ and reading your response to another query in the messages above , i gather this will continue but should not affect printing . Thank you very much for sharing the information .

  168. Raul Alex

    Thank you!

  169. Ludwig Hamanjila

    Thank you Error 1688 removed!

  170. Jack

    Life saver thanks very much!

  171. David

    Thanks thanks thanks ! Works great !

  172. James

    Thank you! You saved my day and throwing my printer in the bin! Was in the middle of urgent work, needed the print. Thanks a lot.

  173. Paula

    I don’t normally write on websites, but just had to say a quick thank you. This information has been gratefully received.

  174. silviu stamati

    Great it really did work !!! Thanks alot !!!

  175. RSam

    Thank you for that 1686 relief. Really glad Canon put it there, and glad that you told us about it.

    I am now more confident bout recommending refilling cartridges and remanufactured to my friends.

    The printer is just great.

    There is a tip about cleaning the cartridge which came with my refill kit.

    The fluid is coloured pink and it could be alcohol.

    If you put some alcohol in a shallow dish so it can cover the printhead

    Let is soak a few hours or overnight.

    so the fluid releases the dried up ink.

    Smooth running after that.

    ~~>><<“

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