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Printer Not Printing from Computer: Causes and Solutions

You’re in the middle of an important task, and suddenly your printer decides not to cooperate. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Printer not printing from computers is a common issue that can disrupt your workflow. Let’s dive into the causes and solutions for this problem.

Key Takeaways: If the Printer Not Printing from the Computer

  • Check your connectivity options first.
  • Update your printer drivers regularly.
  • Don’t ignore low-ink messages.
  • When in doubt, consult an IT professional.
Expert troubleshooting steps for resolving printer and computer connectivity issues.

Section I. Identifying the Causes

Hardware Issues

Power and Connection Issues

If your printer isn’t working, the first thing to check is the power and connection. A printer that’s not getting any power or isn’t securely attached to your computer will not function.

Ensuring Power Supply

Before you dive into more complex troubleshooting, ensure that your printer is plugged into a working electrical outlet. If it’s connected to a surge protector, make sure the surge protector itself is turned on. You can verify the electrical supply by checking for any LED indicators on the printer. If you’re still not getting any power, try connecting the printer to a different outlet to rule out the possibility of a faulty electrical supply.

Checking Cable and Wireless Connections

For printers connected via a cable, ensure that the USB or Ethernet cable is securely attached to both the printer and the computer. If you’re using a wireless setup, make sure your printer is connected to the correct Wi-Fi network. Sometimes, the issue could be as simple as being connected to the wrong network. For Bluetooth printers, ensure that the Bluetooth is enabled on your computer and that it’s paired with the printer.

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To check the cable connection, inspect both ends of the cable for any visible damage. If you find any, replace the cable immediately. For wireless connections, you can go to your computer’s “Devices and Printers” settings to see if the printer is listed. If it’s not, you may need to re-add it or troubleshoot wireless connectivity issues.

By ensuring your power supply and checking your cable and wireless connections, you’re eliminating the basic hardware issues that could be preventing your printer from functioning correctly. This sets the stage for further troubleshooting, should it be necessary.

Software Issues

If your printer isn’t working as it should, software issues could be the culprit. These can range from driver problems to issues with the print queue. Understanding the relationship between your printer and the software can save you time and frustration.

Driver Problems

Drivers act as the bridge between your computer and printer. If there’s a malfunction in this software component, your printer won’t perform optimally. According to HP, outdated or incompatible drivers are common issues.

Recognizing Corrupted Drivers

Corrupted drivers can cause your printer to behave erratically. Signs include error messages, failed print jobs, or the printer being offline frequently. Canon’s support page suggests running a diagnostic tool to identify any driver issues.

Updating and Reinstalling Drivers

If you’ve identified that your drivers are the issue, the next step is to update or reinstall them. According to Microsoft’s official guide, you can do this through the ‘Device Manager’ on Windows. For Mac users, Apple’s support page provides a step-by-step guide.

  1. For Windows: Open ‘Device Manager’, find your printer under ‘Print queues’, right-click, and choose ‘Update driver’.
  2. For Mac: Go to ‘System Preferences’, click ‘Printers & Scanners’, choose your printer, and click ‘Update’.

By following these steps, you can resolve most software-related issues with your printer, ensuring smoother performance and fewer headaches.

Print Queue Issues

Understanding the Print Queue

The print queue is essentially a line-up of documents waiting to be printed. When this queue faces issues, it can disrupt your entire printing process.

Common Issues and Solutions

  1. Print Jobs Stuck: Sometimes, jobs get stuck and don’t move, causing a backlog. You can clear this by going to the ‘Devices and Printers’ section in your computer settings and selecting ‘See what’s printing.’
  2. Printer Offline: If your printer status shows as ‘offline,’ it won’t process any jobs. Ensure your printer is securely attached to your computer or network.
  3. Corrupt Print Jobs: Occasionally, a corrupt file can disrupt the queue. Deleting the problematic job usually solves this issue.

Managing Stuck Print Jobs

Why do print jobs get stuck?

Print jobs can get stuck for various reasons, including low ink, paper jams, or even software glitches.

How to Manage

  1. Identify the Stuck Job: Open the print queue and locate the job that’s causing the hold-up.
  2. Cancel the Job: Right-click on the problematic job and choose ‘Cancel.’
  3. Restart the Printer: Sometimes, simply turning the printer off and on can clear any stuck jobs.
  4. Check for Hardware Issues: Make sure there’s no paper jam or ink issue causing the job to get stuck.

Resetting the Print Spooler

What is a Print Spooler?

The print spooler is a software program that manages all the print jobs sent to the printer from your computer. Resetting it can often solve multiple issues, including stuck print jobs and offline printer status.

Steps to Reset the Print Spooler

  1. Open ‘Run’ Dialog: Press Windows + R and type services.msc.
  2. Locate Print Spooler: Scroll down the list of services until you find ‘Print Spooler.’
  3. Restart the Service: Right-click on ‘Print Spooler’ and select ‘Restart.’

Section II. Detailed Solutions

In the realm of printer troubleshooting, solutions can be broadly categorized into hardware and software fixes. Whether it’s a power issue or a software glitch, understanding the root cause is crucial for effective resolution. Let’s delve into hardware solutions first.

Hardware Solutions

When it comes to hardware, the issues often revolve around power and connection. These are the physical components that can either make or break your printer’s functionality. Let’s tackle power issues first.

Resolving Power Issues

If your printer isn’t turning on or seems to struggle with power, you’re not alone. This is a common issue that can often be resolved without the need for professional intervention. Here’s how:

  1. Check the Power Source: Ensure that the printer is plugged into a working electrical outlet. If you’re using a surge protector, make sure it’s turned on.
  2. Inspect the Power Cable: Sometimes, the issue could be as simple as a faulty power cable. Try using a different cable to see if the printer powers up.
  3. Perform a ‘Hard Reset’: Unplug the printer from the electrical outlet and wait for about 30 seconds before plugging it back in. This can often resolve minor electrical glitches.
  4. Update Firmware: Outdated firmware can sometimes cause power issues. Visit the printer manufacturer’s website to download the most current firmware available for your model.
  5. Consult the Manual: Your printer’s manual often contains troubleshooting steps specific to the model. A quick read could offer a solution.
  6. Seek Professional Help: If all else fails, it might be time to consult an IT professional. Some issues, like internal circuit problems, are best left to the experts.

By following these steps, you’re likely to resolve the majority of power-related issues with your printer. Remember, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines or consult an IT professional for issues that persist or seem out of scope for DIY fixes.

Incorporating these tips should help you tackle power issues effectively. If the problem persists, it’s advisable to consult an IT professional to diagnose and resolve the issue.

Step-by-step Guide to Checking Power Connections

Why It’s Important:
Before you dive into any advanced troubleshooting, it’s crucial to ensure that your printer is getting power. A printer that’s not powered up is a common issue that many overlook.

Steps to Check Power Connections:

  1. Inspect the Power Cable: Make sure the power cable is securely attached to both the printer and the electrical outlet.
  2. Check the Power Button: Press the power button and look for any lights or sounds that indicate the printer is on.
  3. Use a Different Outlet: Sometimes, the issue could be with the electrical outlet. Try plugging the printer into a different outlet to rule this out.
  4. Check for Surge Protectors: If you’re using a surge protector, make sure it’s turned on. Sometimes these devices can trip, cutting off power.

Expert Tip: Always use a surge protector to safeguard your printer and other electronic devices from power surges and outages.

Source: HP Support

Tips to Maintain a Steady Power Supply

Why It’s Important:
A steady power supply is essential for the optimal functioning of your printer. Fluctuations can lead to issues like paper jams, ink smudging, and more.

Tips to Maintain a Steady Power Supply:

  1. Use a Surge Protector: This device can protect your printer from voltage spikes.
  2. Check the Voltage: Ensure your electrical supply meets the printer’s voltage requirements.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Dust and debris can get into the power supply unit. Make sure to clean it regularly.
  4. Avoid Overloading Circuits: Don’t plug too many devices into the same circuit as your printer.

Expert Tip: Consider investing in an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) for your printer. This will ensure that your printer doesn’t lose power, especially during critical printing jobs.

Source: Canon Support

Fixing Connection Issues

Why It’s Important:
Connection issues can be a real headache. Whether it’s a USB connection or a wireless one, these problems can prevent your computer from communicating with your printer.

Steps to Fix Connection Issues:

  1. Check the USB Cable: If you’re using a USB connection, ensure the cable is securely attached to both the printer and the computer.
  2. Wireless Troubleshooting: For wireless printers, make sure you’re connected to the correct network.
  3. Update Printer Drivers: Outdated or corrupt drivers can cause connectivity issues. Make sure you have the most current driver available.
  4. Restart Print Spooler Service: Sometimes, restarting the print spooler service from your computer can resolve connection issues.

Expert Tip: If you’re still experiencing issues, it might be time to consult an IT professional. Some problems may require advanced troubleshooting.

Detailed Guide to Securing Both Wired and Wireless Connections

Check Your Wired Connections

First things first, let’s make sure all your cables are securely attached. A loose cable can often be the culprit. If you’re using a USB connection, try plugging it into a different port on your computer. Also, ensure that the power cable is plugged into a working outlet or surge protector.

Secure Your Wireless Setup

If you’re using a wireless printer, ensure that it’s connected to the correct network. Double-check the network settings on your printer’s display panel. If you’ve recently changed your Wi-Fi password, you’ll need to update this on your printer as well.

Bluetooth Connectivity

Some printers also offer Bluetooth connectivity. Make sure your Bluetooth settings are correctly configured and that your printer is discoverable.

Expert Tip: Use a Surge Protector Using a surge protector can help protect your printer and computer from electrical fluctuations, adding an extra layer of security to your setup.

Troubleshooting Common Connection Problems

Printer Offline Issue

If your printer status shows as “offline,” it could be due to several reasons. Navigate to “Devices and Printers” on your computer and right-click on your printer. Select the “Use Printer Online” option.

Paper Jam or Empty Tray

A nearly empty or overfilled paper tray can also cause issues. Make sure the paper is properly aligned in the tray.

Low Ink Messages

Don’t ignore low ink messages. Running a printer with empty cartridges can damage the printer head.

Expert Tip: Update Firmware Manufacturers often release firmware updates that can resolve common issues. Make sure your printer’s firmware is up-to-date.

Software Solutions

Addressing Driver Issues

Outdated or corrupt drivers can cause your printer to malfunction. Visit the manufacturer’s website to download the most current driver available for your printer model.

Reinstall the Driver

If updating doesn’t work, try uninstalling and then reinstalling the driver. Navigate to “Devices and Printers,” right-click your printer, and choose “Remove Device.” Then reinstall using the latest driver.

Expert Tip: Use Diagnostic Tools Many manufacturers offer diagnostic tools on their websites. These can automatically detect and fix issues with your printer driver.

Print Queue Issues

Sometimes, print jobs can get stuck in the print queue. Open the print queue, cancel all jobs, and then try printing again.

Expert Tip: Set as Default Printer Ensure that the correct printer is set as the default option on your computer. This can prevent jobs from being sent to the wrong printer.

Section III: Advanced Troubleshooting

Printer Settings

When it comes to advanced troubleshooting, the first thing you need to look at is your printer settings. This is the control center of your printer, where you can customize how your printer behaves. It’s like the settings menu on your smartphone; it controls everything from the brightness of your screen to your ringtone. In the same way, your printer settings control everything from the paper size to the print quality.

Setting the Correct Printer

Now, let’s dive into setting the correct printer. This is crucial because sometimes your computer might be connected to multiple printers, and you don’t want to send your confidential document to the wrong one. According to a guide from HP, setting the correct printer involves navigating through your computer’s settings and ensuring that the printer you intend to use is set as the default printer.

  1. Open Control Panel: Navigate to the Control Panel on your computer and click on “Devices and Printers.
  2. Find Your Printer: Among the list of devices, locate the printer you want to set as the default.
  3. Set as Default: Right-click on the printer’s icon and select “Set as default printer.”
  4. Confirm Settings: A green checkmark will appear next to the printer’s icon, confirming that it’s now the default printer.

By following these steps, you ensure that all your print jobs go to the right place, saving you both time and potential embarrassment. It’s a simple yet often overlooked aspect of printer troubleshooting that can make a significant difference.

Key Takeaway: Setting the correct printer as your default ensures that your print jobs are sent to the right device, making your printing experience smooth and error-free.

By understanding these advanced settings, you’re well on your way to becoming a printer troubleshooting expert. Whether you’re at home or in the office, these tips will help you get your printer back up and running in no time.

Ensuring the Correct Printer is Selected

Why It’s Important

Before you dive into more complex troubleshooting, it’s crucial to ensure you’ve selected the correct printer. This might sound basic, but you’d be surprised how often this is the issue.

Steps to Verify the Correct Printer

  1. Open Devices and Printers: Navigate to the ‘Control Panel‘ and click on ‘Devices and Printers.
  2. Locate Your Printer: Find your printer in the list of devices. It should be under ‘Printers and Faxes.’
  3. Check the Status: If the printer icon is grayed out, it’s not the default printer. Right-click on it to see more options.
  4. Set as Default: If it’s not the default printer, right-click and choose ‘Set as Default Printer.’

Common Mistakes

  • Multiple Printers: If you have more than one printer installed, make sure you’re sending the print job to the correct one.
  • Virtual Printers: Software like Adobe PDF or Microsoft XPS Document Writer can appear as printers. Ensure you’re not sending your job there by mistake.

Expert Tip: If you’re still facing issues, it might be a good idea to consult an IT professional. Sometimes, the problem could be deeper, like a corrupt printer driver.

Guide to Setting a Printer as the Default Option

Why It’s Important

Setting a printer as the default option streamlines the printing process. This ensures that all print jobs automatically go to the designated printer unless otherwise specified.

Steps to Set Default Printer

  1. Open Settings: Go to ‘Start,’ then ‘Settings,’ and choose ‘Devices.’
  2. Click on Printers & Scanners: This will open a list of all connected printers.
  3. Select Your Printer: Click on the printer you want to set as default.
  4. Click ‘Manage’: This will open a new window with various options.
  5. Set as Default: Click on the ‘Set as default’ button.

Common Mistakes

  • Ignoring Pop-up Messages: If you see a message saying another printer is set as default, don’t ignore it. This could lead to print jobs being sent to the wrong device.
  • Network Printers: If you’re on a network, make sure you’re setting the network printer as the default, not a local one.

Expert Tip: If you’re unable to set a printer as the default, it might be due to administrative restrictions. In such cases, consult your IT department.

Section IV: Conclusion


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve tackled the most common printer issues you’re likely to encounter. From power problems to paper jams, we’ve provided actionable solutions to get your printer back up and running.

Recap of the Key Solutions Provided

Here’s a quick rundown of the key solutions we’ve covered:

  1. Power Issues: Ensure your printer is securely connected to a power source and the surge protector is functioning.
  2. Computer Connection: Double-check the USB port or wireless setup to ensure a stable connection between your computer and printer.
  3. Print Queue: Clear any stuck jobs in the system tray under “Devices and Printers.
  4. Printer Offline: Uncheck the “Use Printer Offline” option in the printer settings.
  5. Paper Tray: Address nearly empty or overfilled paper trays to avoid paper jams.
  6. Ink Issues: Ignore low ink messages if you’re still getting quality prints or replace the cartridge if necessary.
  7. Driver Issues: Update to the most current driver available for your printer model.

Share your Experiences and Tips in the Comment Section

Your experience matters! If you’ve encountered other printer issues or have tips that could help others, feel free to share them in the comment section below. Your insights could be the solution someone else is looking for.

By sharing your experiences and tips, you’re contributing valuable information to a community of users who, like you, just want their printers to do their job. So go ahead, let’s make tech life a bit easier for everyone.

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Tony Hoffman

Tony Hoffman is a tech expert with over 10 years of experience in the printer and scanner industries. He has developed a keen eye for the latest innovations and trends in printing technology making him a go-to resource for consumers and professionals alike. His engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics make his articles and reviews accessible and informative for a wide range of readers. Outside of his work as a tech writer Tony enjoys tinkering with gadgets and exploring the outdoors.View Author posts

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