Problems Loading a Brother P-Touch Cartridge

If you like being organized, Brother P-Touch label makers are great -- until the first time you can’t load the tape cartridge. That’s undeniably frustrating, but if you step back from your annoyance and take time to diagnose the situation, you’ll most likely be back to labeling everything you own in no time flat.

Directional Difficulties

Brother’s P-Touch line of label makers are different machines with different strengths, but they all use the same tape cartridges. The key in loading a new one into your P-Touch machine is inserting it in the right direction and pushing it until you hear it click firmly into place. The cartridges only fit into each machine in one direction, so it’s important to read the instructions for your specific P-Touch model when loading the cartridge into it. Check your P-Touch label maker’s manual for instructions, or consult Brother’s Manuals and Documentation website to view the manual for your specific model.

Tape Not Loading Properly

Once you put the P-Touch cartridge into your label maker, that’s only half the battle. If the tape isn’t loading into your machine correctly from the cartridge, try popping the cartridge out carefully and reinserting it. In some models, such as the PT-1180, the tape feed roller and print head may be touching. This prevents the tape from moving through the machine properly, which means you can’t print your labels. If you move the tape feed roller and print head apart so the tape can load properly, that should solve your problem.


If Brother’s documentation for your P-Touch model doesn’t help, try loading a different P-Touch cartridge into your machine. It’s possible that you’ve just gotten a defective one, and that another one will work correctly. If you suspect that something is wrong with your P-Touch label maker itself, check Brother’s Service Center Locator to find an authorized service center near you. If your P-Touch machine is still under warranty, don’t forget to bring along proof, such as your original purchase receipt, when you go to have the machine serviced.


Don’t physically abuse your P-Touch machine or cartridge in hopes of getting it to work. Banging it into a table is more likely to harm the machine than it is to help the cartridge settle into place. A technical tap may have worked to get bouncing images on old tube TVs to stay still, but it won’t help here. Also, don’t use the wrong cartridge in your P-Touch machine. Double check that the cartridge you’re trying to load into the machine is one that Brother’s documentation says will fit. P-Touch tape cartridges come in a variety of materials and tape widths, and not all cartridges will work in every P-Touch machine.

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