Printers experience several forms of malfunctions, some of which are easy to fix. Fixing printer issues can be a headache—especially on Windows devices—because there’s a wide range of things that could be wrong.
The problem could stem from your PC, the printer, or the connection between both devices. This tutorial highlights ten likely troubleshooting measures for printers that won’t print.
Many printer models won’t print if there’s a loose USB connection or if they’re out of ink or paper. Verify your printer’s ink levels, clean the printhead, fill the paper tray, and avoid using substandard paper. Low-quality paper can cause “Ghost Paper Jams” and other issues that stop your printer from printing documents.
For printers using a wired connection, ensure both cable ends are plugged firmly into your printer and computer. Go through the printer’s manual for instructions on connecting the device to your Windows or Mac computer.
Wireless printers won’t print documents if connected to the wrong Wi-Fi network. Make sure your printer and computer are on the same wireless network. Likewise, check your router settings, disable VPN connections, and make the printer’s IP address static. Refer to our tutorial on troubleshooting Wi-Fi (wireless) printers for more fixes.
Windows has a suite of troubleshooting tools that diagnoses and resolves hardware and software problems. We recommend running the Printer Troubleshooter before trying other more complex measures.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > and select Printers & scanners.
In Windows 10, go to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners.
- Select the problem printer from the list of connected devices.
Note: If your printer status reads “Offline,” refer to our troubleshooting tutorial on getting an offline printer back online. Proceed to the next step if your printer is online.
- Select Run the troubleshooter in the “Printer settings” tab.
There’s another way to access the printer troubleshooter in Windows 11. Go to Settings > System > Troubleshoot > Other troubleshooters and select Run next to “Printer.”
In Windows 10, go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot and select Additional troubleshooters > Printer > and select Run the troubleshooter.
Wait for the troubleshooter to run the necessary check on the printer, its drivers, and other associated processes.
Windows has a feature that dynamically changes your PC’s default printing device based on your location and other factors. The feature is near-perfect but not failproof. If your PC doesn’t print documents, it might be that an inactive printer is the default printing device.
macOS also sets the last printer connected as your Mac’s default printer. Check your computer settings and ensure the active printer is the default device.
In Windows, go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers & scanners, select the printer, and select the Set as default button.
On Mac computers, go to System Preferences > Printers & Scanners on Mac computers, right-click the printer, and select Set default printer. Alternatively, open the Default printer drop-down menu and select the printer as the default.
When you send a document for printing, your computer first sends the “print job” to the print queue. The print job is immediately removed from the print queue when the printer prints the document. It’s usually a seamless process, but there are times when completed print jobs remain in the queue.
If that happens, subsequent print jobs will also get stuck in the queue and prevent your printer from printing files. Clearing your computer’s print queue might resolve the problem.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth & scanners > Printers & scanners and select your printer.
- Select Open print queue.
- Select Printer on the menu bar and select Cancel All Documents.
- Select Yes on the confirmation prompt.
Try printing any document or a test page and check if clearing the queue fixed the problem. Open the printer menu and select Print test page.
If completed documents remain in the print queue, refer to our troubleshooting tutorial on deleting stuck print jobs in Windows.
- Go to System Preferences > Printers & scanners, select the printer on the sidebar, and select Open Print Queue.
- Select the x icon next to the pending print jobs to remove them from the queue.
Your printer might not receive print jobs from your PC if its driver is corrupt or outdated. Although Windows automatically installs driver updates, some factors (e.g., a metered internet connection) may prevent that from happening. Here’s how to manually install a driver from your computer or the internet.
Check the printer’s manufacturer website and download the latest driver updates for your printer model. Plug the printer into your computer and follow the steps below.
- Right-click the Start Menu or press the Windows key + X to open the Quick Access Menu. Select Device Manager to proceed.
- Expand the “Printers” category, right-click the printer’s driver, and select Update driver.
- Select Search automatically for drivers and wait for Windows to search for the best driver available for the printer. The process requires an internet connection, so ensure your PC is connected to a Wi-Fi or Ethernet network.
Alternatively, select Browser my computer for drivers to manually install a driver you downloaded from the printer manufacturer’s website. Afterward, choose Browse, navigate to the driver’s location on your PC, and select Next to install the update.
We recommend configuring Windows to automatically download drivers for your printer, especially if you’re using a metered connection.
Go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers & scanners and toggle on Download drivers and device software over metered connections.
If the Device Manager says the printer’s driver is up-to-date, check the manufacturer’s website for confirmation. You’ll find driver update history in the “Download,” “Software,” or “Drivers” section of the printer manufacturer’s website. Contact the manufacturer if you don’t know how to find, install, or update your printer’s driver update.
Power-cycling your printer and computer can help both devices re-establish a connection. Unplug your printer’s power cord and shut down your computer. Remember to close any open apps or documents so you don’t lose unsaved changes.
Restart both devices, connect your printer to your PC, and check if you can now print documents.
Reinstalling a faulty or corrupt driver can resolve issues causing your printer to malfunction. The operation entails deleting or uninstalling the printer driver, restarting your computer, and installing it from scratch. Note that this operation may affect any customizations made on the printer’s settings and preferences on your computer.
- Type device manager into Windows Search and select Device Manager.
- Expand the “Printer” section, right-click the printer’s driver, select Uninstall device, and select Uninstall on the pop-up.
You should also remove the printer from your PC’s memory.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers and scanners, select the printer, and select the Remove button.
- Select Yes on the confirmation prompt.
Restart Windows and reconnect the printer to your computer. Windows should automatically install the printer’s driver when it connects to your PC.
Printer Spooler is the system service that manages printers and print jobs on Windows devices. Temporary system glitches can affect the Printer Spooler’s performance and trigger printing-related problems. Restarting the print spooler service can restore the service to normalcy.
- Open the Windows Run box (press Windows key + R), type services.msc in the dialog box, and press Enter.
- Right-click Printer Spooler and select Restart.
Asides from fixing software bugs, Windows Updates also updates outdated or buggy drivers. Head to the Windows Updates menu and install the latest Windows build or security patches available for your computer.
In Windows 11, go to Settings > Windows Update and wait for Windows to check for updates. You may need to restart your computer if Windows has already downloaded the update. Select Restart now to update and reboot your computer.
In Windows 10, head to Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Update and select Check for updates. Make sure your computer has an internet connection.
In macOS, go to System Preferences > Software Updates and select Update Now (or Upgrade Now).
HP has a Print and Scan Doctor utility (HP Smart for Mac) that diagnoses problems with HP printers. The tool can detect empty ink cartridges, outdated driver software, blocked nozzles, print feed errors, and other printer problems.
Samsung Printer Experience is the utility that manages Samsung printers. The app has loads of troubleshooting guides for printing problems on Samsung printers. The Canon Inkjet Print Utility is also available for Canon inkjet printers.
Download and install your printer’s utility software on your computer and run the tool according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Printers have status lights or LCD screens that display error codes. These lights point out the root cause of some printing issues. Check the printer’s instruction manual to learn what the indicator lights and error codes mean and their respective solutions. Contact the printer manufacturer if your printer still won’t print after running these troubleshooting measures.