If you’re trying to use your printer and run into problems, here are some steps for common printer problems to try to get things working again.

Before you begin

Start by running the automated printer troubleshooter in the Get Help app. Get Help automatically runs diagnostics and takes the correct steps to fix most printer issues.

Open Get Help

If the Get Help app is unable to resolve your printer issue, try the possible solutions listed: 

Sometimes power cycling your printer can resolve the issue. Turn off your printer and unplug it, wait 30 seconds, plug your printer back in, and then turn the printer back on.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 2.

Check the cables (for wired printers). Make sure that the printer's USB cable is properly connected from the printer to your PC. If your USB isn’t recognized, see Automatically diagnose and fix Windows USB problems.

Check the wireless connection (for wireless printers). Do one of the following:

  • Make sure the printer’s wireless option is turned on and available. Many printers have a button that displays a blue wireless icon when a wireless connection option for the printer is available. To learn where this button is located on your printer and to find instructions about how to turn it on, see the instructions that came with the printer or check the manufacturer's website for instructions.

  • Run the printer’s wireless connectivity test. Many printers have a menu option to test the printer’s wireless connectivity. Read the instructions that came with the printer or check the printer manufacturer’s website for instructions about how to do this.

  • If those check out and you’re still having problems, your PC may not be connecting to your wireless network. To learn more, see Why can't I get online? For more advanced help, see Fix network connection issues in Windows.

  • If you're having trouble connecting to a Bluetooth printer, see Fix Bluetooth problems in Windows.

Note: If you use wireless access points, extenders, or multiple wireless routers with separate SSIDs, make sure you're connected to the same network as the printer for your PC.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 3.

Try removing and reinstalling the printer.

Remove your printer

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Bluetooth & Devices  > Printers & scanners .
    Open Printers & scanners settings

  2. Select the printer you want to uninstall.

  3. Select the Remove button. Then confirm you're sure you want to remove this device by selecting Yes.

Reinstall your printer

If your printer is turned on and connected to the network, Windows should find it easily. Available printers can include all printers on a network, such as Bluetooth and wireless printers, or printers that are plugged into another computer and shared on the network. You might need permission to install some printers. To reinstall your printer, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Bluetooth & Devices  > Printers & scanners .
    Open Printers & scanners settings

  2. Make sure your printer is turned on and connected.  Then select the Add device (or Refresh) button.

  3. Please wait a moment while Windows searches for the printers that are connected to the device (locally or wirelessly).  Windows will then display a list of printers connected to your device.  If you see your printer listed, select the Add device button for your printer.  If you don't see your device listed, select Add manually.

Notes: 

  • If you use wireless access points, extenders, or multiple wireless routers with separate SSIDs, make sure you're connected to the same network as the printer for your PC to find and install it.

  • If you have a new wireless printer that hasn’t been added to your home network, read the instructions that came with the printer and check the printer manufacturer’s website to learn more and to get up-to-date software for your printer.

Tip: You can print a test page to make sure the printer is working correctly. If you've installed the printer but it doesn't work, check the manufacturer's website for troubleshooting information or driver updates.

Reinstall your printer manually

If the system cannot install the printer automatically, you can reinstall it manually. When you select Add manually, you will then see five options to Find a printer by other options.  Select the option that applies best for your situation and then follow the steps provided.  All of the options can apply for a printer that is connected wirelessly or through your network.  However, if your printer is connected directly to your computer locally, select Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings and then select Next.  

Reinstall a local printer manually

After selecting Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings, follow these steps:

  1. Select Use an existing port and then select the port the printer is connected to.  Then select Next. If the printer is connected via USB, select it from the list. There are also options for parallel (LPT) and serial (COM) ports.

  2. You will now see options to install the printer driver. If the printer came with a disc that includes the driver, select Have Disk. Otherwise, select Windows Update.

  3. Please wait while Windows updates the list of printers.  Then select the printer manufacturer from the left column, and the printer model from the right column. Then select Next.

    Note: If there are multiple versions of a driver for your device, you might be asked which version of the driver to use.  In most cases, you should select Replace the current driver. However, if you're confident the installed driver is correct, select Use the driver that is currently installed.

  4. Type a name for your printer, and then select Next. This name is only for your personal reference, so you can choose any name you prefer. 

  5. Select Do not share this printer. (If you want to share your printer with other devices on your network, select Share this printer and enter the name and location.) Select Next.

  6. Select Print a test page to confirm that the printer is working and then select Finish.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 4.

Most printers require the latest driver to work well. To learn more, read How to install the latest driver for your printer.

If your printer still doesn’t work after you install the latest driver for your printer, continue to step 5.

If the previous troubleshooting step is not successful, you may need to clear spooler files and restart the spooler service. The print spooler is a file that manages the printing process. To clear and reset the print spooler:

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type services, and then select Services in the list of results.

  2. Select the Standards tab, and then double-click Print Spooler in the list of services.

  3. Select Stop, and then select OK.

  4. In the search box on the taskbar, enter %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers, select %WINDIR%\system32\spool\PRINTERS in the list of results, and then delete all files in the folder.

  5. In the search box on the taskbar, search for services, and then select Services in the list of results.

  6. Select the Standards tab, and the double-click Print Spooler in the list of services.

  7. Select Start, select Automatic in the Startup Type box, and then select OK.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue on to step 6.

If your printer displays an "offline" status, check out Troubleshooting offline printer problems.

Notes: 

Sometimes power cycling your printer can resolve the issue. Turn off your printer and unplug it, wait 30 seconds, plug your printer back in, and then turn the printer back on.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 2.

Check the cables (for wired printers). Make sure that the printer's USB cable is properly connected from the printer to your PC. If your USB isn’t recognized, see Automatically diagnose and fix Windows USB problems.

Check the wireless connection (for wireless printers). Do one of the following:

  • Make sure the printer’s wireless option is turned on and available. Many printers have a button that displays a blue wireless icon when a wireless connection option for the printer is available. To learn where this button is located on your printer and to find instructions about how to turn it on, see the instructions that came with the printer or check the manufacturer's website for instructions.

  • Run the printer’s wireless connectivity test. Many printers have a menu option to test the printer’s wireless connectivity. Read the instructions that came with the printer or check the printer manufacturer’s website for instructions about how to do this.

  • If those check out and you’re still having problems, your PC may not be connecting to your wireless network. To learn more, see Why can't I get online? For more advanced help, see Fix network connection issues in Windows.

  • If you're having trouble connecting to a Bluetooth printer, see Fix Bluetooth problems in Windows 10: FAQ.

Note: If you use wireless access points, extenders, or multiple wireless routers with separate SSIDs, make sure you're connected to the same network as the printer for your PC.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 3.

Try removing and reinstalling the printer.

Remove your printer

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Devices  > Printers & scanners .
    Open Printers & scanners settings

  2. Under Printers & scanners, find the printer, select it, and then select Remove device.

Reinstall your printer

You'll need to follow different steps to reinstall or add a wireless or local printer. Here's how.

Reinstall a wireless printer

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Devices  > Printers & scanners .
    Open Printers & scanners settings

  2. Select Add a printer or scanner. Wait for your device to find nearby printers, choose the one you want, and then select Add device.

If your printer is turned on and connected to the network, Windows should find it easily. Available printers can include all printers on a network, such as Bluetooth and wireless printers, or printers that are plugged into another computer and shared on the network. You might need permission to install some printers.

Notes: 

  • If you use wireless access points, extenders, or multiple wireless routers with separate SSIDs, make sure you're connected to the same network as the printer for your PC to find and install it.

  • If you have a new wireless printer that hasn’t been added to your home network, read the instructions that came with the printer and check the printer manufacturer’s website to learn more and to get up-to-date software for your printer.

Tip: You can print a test page to make sure the printer is working correctly. If you've installed the printer but it doesn't work, check the manufacturer's website for troubleshooting information or driver updates.

Reinstall a local printer

If you want to reinstall or add a local printer, plug the USB cable from your printer into an available USB port on your PC, and then turn on the printer.

  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Devices  > Printers & scanners .
    Open Printers & scanners settings

  2. Under Printers & scanners, look for your printer.

    • If you see your printer listed, you'll know it's installed.

    • If you don't see your printer listed, select Add a printer or scanner. Wait for your device to find available printers, choose the one you want, and then select Add device.

Tip: You can confirm the printer is working by printing a test page. If you've installed the printer but it doesn't work, check the manufacturer's website for troubleshooting information or driver updates.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue to step 4.

Most printers require the latest driver to work well. To learn more, read How to install the latest driver for your printer.

If your printer still doesn’t work after you install the latest driver for your printer, continue to step 5.

If the previous troubleshooting step is not successful, you may need to clear spooler files and restart the spooler service. The print spooler is a file that manages the printing process. To clear and reset the print spooler:

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type services, and then select Services in the list of results.

  2. Select the Standards tab, and then double-click Print Spooler in the list of services.

  3. Select Stop, and then select OK.

  4. In the search box on the taskbar, enter %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers, select %WINDIR%\system32\spool\PRINTERS in the list of results, and then delete all files in the folder.

  5. In the search box on the taskbar, search for services, and then select Services in the list of results.

  6. Select the Standards tab, and the double-click Print Spooler in the list of services.

  7. Select Start, select Automatic in the Startup Type box, and then select OK.

If your printer still doesn’t work, continue on to step 6.

If your printer displays an "offline" status, check out Troubleshooting offline printer problems.

Connecting your printer

When you connect a printer to your PC  or add a new printer to your home network, you can usually start printing right away. Windows supports most printers, and you probably won't have to go out of your way to install special printer software. If you're using Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, additional printer support and drivers are available through Windows Update.

To install a printer

In most cases, all you have to do to set up a printer is to connect it to your PC. Simply plug the USB cable from your printer into an available USB port on your PC, and turn the printer on.

For wireless printers with Windows 8.1:

Note: If you have a new wireless printer that hasn’t been added to your home network, read the instructions that came with the printer to learn how to add it. Check the printer manufacturer’s website to learn more and to get up-to-date software for your printer.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings. (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, select Settings, and then select Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Devices. If your printer is installed, it should appear under Printers.

  3. If your printer isn’t listed, tap or click Add a device, and then select your printer to install it.

To install (add) a local printer

  1. Click the Start  button, and then, on the Start menu, click Devices and Printers.

  2. Click Add a printer.

  3. In the Add Printer wizard, click Add a local printer.

  4. On the Choose a printer port page, make sure that the Use an existing port button and the recommended printer port are selected, and then click Next.

  5. On the Install the printer driver page, select the printer manufacturer and model, and then click Next.

    • If your printer isn't listed, click Windows Update, and then wait while Windows checks for additional drivers.

    • If none are available and you have the installation CD, click Have Disk, and then browse to the folder where the printer driver is located. (For additional help, consult the printer manual.)

  6. Complete the additional steps in the wizard, and then click Finish.

Tip: You can print a test page to make sure the printer is working correctly. If you've installed the printer but it doesn't work, check the manufacturer's website for troubleshooting information or driver updates.

To install a network, wireless, or Bluetooth printer

If you're trying to add a network printer at the office, you'll usually need the name of the printer. If you can't find it, contact your network administrator.

  1. Click the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, click Devices and Printers.

  2. Click Add a printer.

  3. In the Add Printer wizard, click Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.

  4. In the list of available printers, select the one you want to use, and then click Next. (If your computer is connected to a network, only printers listed in Active Directory for your domain are displayed in the list.)

  5. If prompted, install the printer driver on your computer by clicking Install driverAdministrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  6. Complete the additional steps in the wizard, and then click Finish.

Tip: Available printers can include all printers on a network, such as Bluetooth and wireless printers or printers that are plugged into another computer and shared on the network. You might need permission to install some printers. You can confirm the printer is working by printing a test page.

Note: After your printer is installed, you can keep it up to date with automatic Windows 7 driver updates.

Troubleshoot printer problems

Start by checking your hardware

Make sure that the printer's electrical cord is plugged into an electrical outlet and that the power switch is turned on. If you're printing to a shared printer or a printer on a network, make sure that all necessary computers and routers are turned on too. If your printer or other equipment is plugged in to a surge protector or a backup power supply, make sure that hardware is plugged in and turned on as well.

If you’re using a wired printer, make sure that the printer cable is properly connected from the printer to your PC.

For wireless printers, check the wireless connection. Make sure the printer’s wireless option is turned on and available. Many printers have a button that displays a blue wireless icon when wireless is available.

Next, run the printer’s wireless connectivity test. Read the instructions that came with the printer or check the printer manufacturer’s website for instructions about how to do this.

Use a troubleshooter

A troubleshooter is an automated tool that can find and automatically fix some problems with your PC. The printing troubleshooter can fix problems with installing and connecting to a printer.

Update drivers

Most printers require driver software to work properly. If you recently upgraded from one version of Windows to another, it's possible that the current printer driver is for the previous version of Windows. If you've had recent power outages, viruses, or other computer problems, it's possible that the drivers have become damaged. Downloading and installing the latest driver for your printer can resolve these types of problems.

Three ways to find and install a driver:

  • Use Windows Update. Windows Update might have an updated version of your printer driver.

  • Install software from the printer manufacturer. If your printer came with a disc, that disc might contain software that installs a driver for the printer.

  • Download and install the driver yourself . You can search for a driver on the manufacturer's website. Try this if Windows Update can't find a driver for your printer, and the printer didn't come with software that installs a driver.

Support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020.  Technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC are no longer available for Windows 7.  Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 11.  

Click here to get more info and learn what it means for you.

Related topics

Find out how to install a printer in Windows.

Find out how to add a printer in Windows.

Find out how to download printer drivers in Windows.

Find out how to install printer drivers in Windows.

Find out how to set up a default printer in Windows.

Find out how to view a printer queue in Windows.

Find out how to change the printer status from "offline" to "online" in Windows.

If you are having a problem changing your printer "offline" status, go to troubleshooting offline printer problems in Windows.

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