How to troubleshoot print failures in Word for Mac, Excel for Mac, or PowerPoint for Mac


This article suggests ways that you can diagnose and resolve issues when you cannot print a document in Microsoft Office for Mac applications. Examples of print failure are as follows:
  • You receive error message and other messages when you try to print a file.
  • The printer does not respond.
  • Files print as meaningless symbols.

This article does not discuss printer output issues, such as envelope-positioning problems, missing graphics, and inaccurate page numbers.

If you do not find a match for your error message or your printer's behavior, follow the steps in this article to troubleshoot your printing problem. To resolve a print failure in application, you must determine its cause. Causes typically fit one of five categories:
  • Damaged documents (file or presentation) or damaged content in documents, presentations, or workbooks.
  • The application itself.
  • The printer driver.
  • Connectivity or hardware.
  • Conflicting applications.

Do not assume that you know what is causing your printing problem. Instead, rely on systematic troubleshooting to reveal the cause.

Use the following tests to help determine the cause of your printing failure.


Before you follow these steps, make sure that you have all Apple software updates installed. For help and instructions for downloading and installing Apple software updates, see the "References" section.

More Information

Step 1: Test printing in a new document

Damaged documents or documents that contain damaged graphics or damaged fonts can cause print errors. Before you reinstall drivers or software, test the program's ability to print. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Open a new blank document in Word.
  2. On the first line of the document, type =rand(10), and then press Enter. This action inserts 10 paragraphs of sample text.
  3. Try to print the document.
  4. If the document prints successfully, change to a different font, or insert clip art, a table, or a drawing object.

    To change the font, follow these steps:

    1. Use your pointing device to select your sample text.
    2. Click Font.
    3. In the Font list, click to select a different font.
    To insert tables and SmartArt, follow these steps:

    1. On the Insert tab, click Table, select a table size, and then insert the table.
    2. On the Insert tab, click SmartArt, click one of the shapes, and then draw the shape in the document.
  5. Test the printing function.
The success or failure of these tests shows whether an application can print generally. These tests may also give you indications that the application cannot print certain fonts or graphics. 

If you do not receive any errors in the test document but still cannot print your original document, your original document may be damaged. This may be true even if you can print the same document on another computer, because there are many situations in which the symptoms of file damage appear on some computers and not on other computers. 

Again, rely on systematic troubleshooting instead of on assumptions about what is causing the problem. Therefore, if you cannot print a particular document but can print other documents, presentations, or worksheets, you may have a damaged document. Troubleshoot the problem accordingly. For more information about how to troubleshoot damaged documents, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 
2362088 How to troubleshoot damaged Word 2003 documents

If the application cannot print at all or cannot print a certain font or a certain type of graphic, go to step 2. 

Step 2: Print from another program

Try printing from different Office for Mac applications. If Word is not printing, try Excel. 

To test whether another program can communicate with the printer and whether the printer driver is functioning, try to print from another program such as Preview.

When you transfer a document to the Preview program by following these steps, the document is converted to a PDF file:

  1. In the Print dialog box, click Preview.

    Note When you click Preview, the Preview program starts. When the program starts, the document is converted to a PDF file.
  2. When the document appears in the Preview program, click Print on the File menu.
  3. In the Print dialog box, verify that a printer is selected and that the settings under Saved Settings are appropriate for that printer. Then, click Print.
If the Preview program cannot open your document but can print other documents without any problems, try to save your document as a PDF file. Saving the document as a PDF file tests the ability of the printer driver to output data to a file. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Open the document that is not printing. 
  2. On the File menu, click Print.
  3. In the Copies & Pages list, click Output Options.
  4. In the Output Options area, select the Save as File check box. In the Format list, click PDF, and then click Save.
  5. In the Save dialog box, type a name for the file, select a location to save the file, and then click Save.
  6. Try to print the PDF file by using the Preview program.

Step 3: Print from TextEdit

TextEdit is a basic text-editing utility that is included with Mac OS X. To print from TExtEdit, follow these steps:

  1. Exit all applications
  2. On the Go menu, select Applications.
  3. Double-click TextEdit, type some text, and then try to print the document.
If TextEdit cannot print, the printer driver or the printer may be causing the problem.

Step 4: Delete and add the printer

To delete and add the printer, follow these steps:
  1. Click the Apple logo in the upper-left of the screen.
  2. Click System Preferences.
  3. Click Printers & Scanners.
  4. Select the printer that you want to remove.
  5. Click Delete (-).
  6. To add a new printer and test it, Click Add (+).
  7. In the Connection Method list, click the connection method that your printer uses.
  8. In the Printer list, click the printer that you want to add, and then click Add.

Step 5: Replace the printer preference files

Corrupted printer preference files may cause printing issues. To replace the printer preference files, follow these steps:
  1. On the desktop, click File, click New Folder, type Print Prefs, and then press RETURN on your keyboard.
  2. On the Go menu, click Home.
  3. Open Library.

    Note The Library folder is hidden in MAC OS X Lion. To display this folder, hold down the OPTION key while you click the Go menu.
  4. Click Preferences.
  5. Hold down the Apple or Command key, and then click each*.plist file. For example, hold down the Apple key, click, and then click In this example, the and files should be highlighted.
  6. Drag the files that you highlighted in step 5 to the Print Prefs folder that you created in step 1.
  7. On the Apple menu, click Restart, and then click Restart.
  8. Try to print from a Microsoft Office for Mac program.
Note If you cannot print from an Office for Mac program, drag the files from the Print Prefs folder on the desktop to the /Library/Preferences folder.

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.

For troubleshooting steps for common printer problems on Mac, see the following Apple support article: 
Install all available OS X updates. To get the latest updates, follow these steps: 
  1. Click Apple, and then click Software Update.

  2. The Software Update window opens, and the computer checks for available updates.

  3. If software updates are available, click Continue.
  4. Click Agree. The download starts.

  5. When you are prompted to restart, click the Restart button. After the computer restarts, try to install again.

For more information about Apple updates, go to the following Apple website: 


Article ID: 313553 - Last Review: Aug 24, 2015 - Revision: 1