Printer is not printing

We know that when your printer is not printing it is usually at a time when you need it to print the most. In this guide, we aim to show you how to fix the printer problems like a pro and get your printer working as quickly as possible.

How to fix the printer

Why is the printer not responding?

There are so many possible reasons why your printer has stopped responding. It could be a hardware or software issue but before we start troubleshooting let’s check the basics.

  • Is the printer switched on?
  • Are all the leads connected securely?
  • If you are using a wireless or ethernet connected printer then check both the computer and printer are connected to the network and are on.
  • Check if the printer has any flashing lights or warnings these usually indicate a problem with the printer itself.
  • Is there paper in the printer and it is aligned correctly, not jammed. Remove and replace.
  • Are the ink cartridges running low or empty?

Everything is connected and correct but I still cannot print

You have checked everything physical mentioned above, it is also worth checking that any items which don’t belong to the printer haven’t fallen into the printer. We have removed paper clips, staples, even a tiny bit of chocolate bar wrapper from printers in our time.

Was the printer working recently?

If this is a new printer please go to our how to install a printer guide. The likelihood is that it is an install issue rather than a printing problem. We can help you correctly install the printer over there.

how to set the default printer

How to set the default printer

It is important to check that the printer you are checking is set as the default printer. We have more information on default printers here but to set the default printer, follow the below instructions.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter to select Devices and Printers
  3. Right-click the printer name you want to set as default
  4. Select Set as default printer
  5. Close Devices and Printers
  6. Try printing.

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. Left-click the printer name you want to set as default
  4. Select Manage
  5. Click Set as Default button
  6. Try printing.

Note: If the ‘set as default’ option is not available, scroll down the list of printers and deselect Let Windows manage my default printer. When ticked this option sets the last printer you used as the default printer.

Windows printer troubleshooter

How to use Windows printer troubleshooter

If the printer is still not printing, we want to use the Windows printer troubleshooter tool. This is a very handy feature of Windows as it runs through basic checks and shows you how to fix the printer. To run the troubleshooter follow the below instructions.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter to select Devices and Printers
  3. Right-click the printer name you want to set as default
  4. Select Run the troubleshooter
  5. The troubleshooter will start, follow on-screen instructions
  6. Close Devices and Printers
  7. Try printing.

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. Left-click the printer name you want to troubleshoot
  4. Select Manage
  5. Click Run the troubleshooter
  6. The troubleshooter will start, follow on-screen instructions
  7. Try printing.

Print Spooler

What is the printer spooler?

The printer spooler is a software application service which manages how print jobs are sent to the printer. A bit like a bouncer outside a nightclub manages the people going into the club. The print spooler manages the items to be printed, keeping an orderly queue and sending them one at a time to the printer.

Additionally, the printer spooler allows the user to see a detailed list of the queued print jobs. From here the user can manage the list by pausing, deleting, restarting etc.

How to delete a print job from the printer spooler queue

Sometimes an item you sent to print gets stuck in the queue and prevents further print jobs from printing. This happens to all printers. There are a number of reasons why this happens, the print job is still buffering when it was sent to print, driver issues, corruption etc.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter to select Devices and Printers
  3. Right-click the printer name 
  4. Select See what’s printing
  5. The printer queue window will open
  6. Right-click the print job name at the top and any print jobs that show as not responding
  7. Select Cancel
  8. The item should disappear. If an alert box appears and ask you to confirm. Click Yes
  9. Repeat until there are no jobs with a not responding status
  10. Try printing.

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. Left-click the printer name you are trying to print to
  4. Select Manage
  5. Click the Open print queue button
  6. The printer queue window will open displaying the list of print jobs
  7. Right-click the print job at the top or any print jobs that show as not responding
  8. Select Cancel
  9. The item should disappear. If an alert box appears and ask you to confirm. Click Yes
  10. Repeat until there are no jobs with a not responding status
  11. Try printing.

How to restart the printer spooler and check it is switched on

Normally you can open the print queue and simply highlight and delete the job. However, there are times when you might have to stop the print spooler and remove the stuck item. Below are instructions on the printer spooler service and how to restart it. This should remove all print jobs from the list.

How to restart the printer spooler.

  1. Press the Windows key and the letter R at the same time
  2. A run box will appear. Type Services.msc in the run box  and press Enter
  3. The services window will open
  4. Scroll down until you see Print Spooler in the name section
  5. Double-click Print Spooler and a new window will open
  6. Select startup type as Automatic
  7. Under Service Status section. Click the Stop button. 
  8. Wait a few seconds and then under Service Status section. Click the Start button. 
  9. Click to Ok to close the window
  10. Delete all print jobs from the printer queue as shown in the above section.
  11. Try printing

Unable to delete a print job from the queue

Sometimes a stubborn error will not disappear, in this case, you can try the below instructions.

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. A new window will open
  4. Delete all files in the folder
  5. Try printing

Printer Drivers and Software

Checking for conflicts in device manager and updating driver

Sometimes the reason your printer is not printing is a hardware conflict or driver issue. We can use the device manager to scan for hardware changes and update the drivers for your printer.

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Device Manager in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. The device manager will open and you should see Print queue and Printers

Device manager

  1. If Printers does not show then your printer is either not connected correctly or missing the printer driver. Check all leads are connected and go to the How to fix missing printer drivers section below
  2. At this point, we are looking to see if there are any hazard symbols, they will be in Yellow. If you have any hazard symbols, double right-click a blank area of the device manager and select scan for hardware changes.
  3. Double-click Printers to expand
  4. The name of your printer should appear, right-click and select Update driver

Device manager update driver

  1. A new window will open asking you how you would like to search. Select Search automatically for updated driver software.
  2. Try printing
  3. Please note that if the driver shows as the best driver is already installed and you still cannot print. You could try following the steps again and this time select Browse my computer for driver software
  4. Then select Let me pick from a list of drivers available on my computer
  5. Highlight the printer name and select next
  6. Try printing

How to fix missing printer drivers

If Windows is unable to find your printer or the previous install is corrupt, you can remove the printer by right-clicking the printer icon and selecting remove device.

Lots of printer manufacturers have simple to install and set up software. You can search Google with the name of the printer and the words driver software. Please make sure you are on the official websites.

If searching the internet does not help we have a driver list of the most famous brands below. Click the link and either type or search the model of your printer.

HP

Canon

Epson

Brother

Samsung

Once downloaded, double click to run the driver software and follow onscreen instructions.

Fix your printer

The printer is not printing – switch it off and on again

Sometimes the best option is to switch both the printer and the computer off and then turn them on again. This often fixes issues because on start up the computer and printer run through a list of tasks, starting all services and software programs fresh.

You could first try just turning the printer off. Leave it for a few minutes to clear anything it has saved in its memory and then turn it on again.

How to fix a printer that shows as offline

Since the introduction of Windows 10, this issue has appeared more and more. It is frustrating but easy to fix simply stop the print spooler and restart it. There are instructions on how to do this above.

Pop-up windows prevent the printer from printing

Some printers have pop-up alerts for low ink, low paper or common problems. Apart from being annoying, some printers will not continue to print until you acknowledge these printer popups by clicking ok or closing them. Check the taskbar to see if one has appeared.

Printing problems with an inkjet printer?

If your printer is an inkjet printer, then there is a chance that the ink in the printer has dried out or the nozzles are clogged. To stop this happening you need to use your inkjet printer regularly. Please see our post on inkjet printers.

Remember, some inkjet printers using multi-colour cartridges will not work if one colour runs out. Inkjet printers come with additional maintenance controls, see instructions below.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter to select Devices and Printers
  3. Right-click the printer name 
  4. Select Properties
  5. Click the tab marked Maintenance
  6. Run through the Cleaning, Print Head Alignment, and Nozzle Checks
  7. Try printing

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. Left-click the printer name you want to troubleshoot
  4. Select Manage
  5. Click Printer Properties
  6. Click the tab marked Maintenance
  7. Run through the Cleaning, Print Head Alignment, and Nozzle Checks
  8. Try printing

Printing problems with a laser printer?

Sometimes laser printers do not print if the cartridge is not inserted perfectly. Remove the cartridge and replace. Another issue is when the cartridge is running low on ink, provided there are no open holes in the cartridge, you can remove and give it a little shake before replacing.

Windows Update to fix the printer

Sometimes running a Windows update corrects any printer problems. To run a windows update please follow the instructions below.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type update in the text box on the taskbar and select Windows Update

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type update in the text box on the taskbar and select Check for updates
  3. A new window will open, click the Check for updates button

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We hope this guide on the printer is not printing was useful and we helped you to fix the printer. We spend lots of time putting these guides together. If we helped you then please help us and leave a comment below and a like on Facebook.

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