How to Fix a Printer that Won't Print on Windows 10

Introduction

If you're having issues with your printer it could be something as simple as just restarting the printer or your computer. Or it could be something more in depth, needing a full reinstall of your printer.
Printer disconnected icon.

1 Choose the Right Printer

Not all programs obey Windows' default printer settings. Below are some examples of what to look for when initiating a print job. This will vary depending on the program or application you are printing from.

  1. Always ensure that the correct printer is selected when printing a document. Some examples of print dialog boxes are as follows:
    • In Google Chrome's print window, the currently selected printer can be shown to the right of the Destination field. You can click the Change button to be given the opportunity to select a different print destination.
      Screenshot of Google Chrome's print window highlighting the currently selected print destination, and the change button beneath it.
    • In many Windows applications, the print window will be a dropdown box. Simply click the arrow on the dropdown box to display the full list of available printers.
      Screenshot of a common Windows print window highlighting the printer selection dropdown box with a list of available printers shown.
    • In most Mac apps, the print window displays a dropdown box. Simply click the double-arrows on the dropdown box to display the full list of available printers.
      Screenshot of a common macOS print window highlighting the printer selection dropdown box.

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If you're having issues with your printer it could be something as simple as just restarting the printer or your computer. Or it could be something more in depth, needing a full reinstall of your printer.
Printer disconnected icon.

Not all programs obey Windows' default printer settings. Below are some examples of what to look for when initiating a print job. This will vary depending on the program or application you are printing from.

  1. Always ensure that the correct printer is selected when printing a document. Some examples of print dialog boxes are as follows:
    • In Google Chrome's print window, the currently selected printer can be shown to the right of the Destination field. You can click the Change button to be given the opportunity to select a different print destination.
      Screenshot of Google Chrome's print window highlighting the currently selected print destination, and the change button beneath it.
    • In many Windows applications, the print window will be a dropdown box. Simply click the arrow on the dropdown box to display the full list of available printers.
      Screenshot of a common Windows print window highlighting the printer selection dropdown box with a list of available printers shown.
    • In most Mac apps, the print window displays a dropdown box. Simply click the double-arrows on the dropdown box to display the full list of available printers.
      Screenshot of a common macOS print window highlighting the printer selection dropdown box.

The following illustrations are a general representation of what your printer's power button/switch may look like. Your power button / switch will vary depending on the manufacturer and model printer you have.

  1. Press the Power button on the front panel to turn the printer off. Wait a few moments, and then press the Power button again. This should restart the printer.
    Illustration of a user pressing the power button on the front of a printer.
  2. If the power button will not turn the printer off, turn off the printer by using the power switch at the rear of the printer, if your printer has one.
  3. Remove the power cords from the power sockets.
    Illustration of a common power rocker switch and removable power cable on the rear of a printer.
  4. Wait for 10 seconds.
  5. Reinsert the power cords into the power sockets and turn on the power switch if necessary.
  6. Press the Power button to turn on the printer on again.
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
  1. If your printer does not connect via Wi-Fi, it will connect directly to a computer with a USB cable. One end (1) goes into the computer and the other end (2) goes into the printer.
    Photo of a USB printer cable with the physical differences between the two ends being highlighted.
  2. Locate the USB cable that connects the printer to the computer. Ensure the flat end is plugged into the computer correctly and securely.
    Stock photo of a desktop computer with the available USB ports highlighted.

  3. Locate the USB port on the side or back of the printer. Make sure not to confuse it with the any other ports that might be next to it. Look for the USB symbol next to the port. The number and layout of the ports varies by printer. Ensure this end of the USB cable is plugged into the printer correctly and securely.
    Stock photo of the backside of a common USB printer highlighting the USB port it would use to be connected to a computer.

On a Windows-based computer:

The following steps may not work if you have not installed the software that was included with your printer. It's also important to note that every printer is different. These steps are meant as a general guideline.

  1. Locate the printer settings, often found by right-clicking the printer icon in the Windows Notification Area, located in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.
    Screenshot of the Windows system tray area with the show hidden icons button highlighted, and the hidden icons area expanded with a printer software icon highlighted within.
  2. Within the printer settings software, you should see the toner levels for the currently installed cartridge(s). Below are a few different examples of how the ink level screens may look.
    • Samsung Laser printer available toner example:
      Screenshot of the Samsung printer software's current toner level indicator.
    • HP Photosmart 7900 available ink example:
      Screenshot of the HP printer software's estimated ink level screen.
  3. Replace any cartridges that are flagged as being low or in a precautionary state.

Through the Printer Menu:

Every printer is different and the following steps are generalized. For explicit instructions on checking ink levels, consult your printer's documentation.

  1. Locate the Menu button of your printer and use the appropriate navigation keys to find a Status or Reports section.
  2. Print a Printer Information or Status page to see current toner levels.
  3. If it has one, your printer's screen may display ink / toner levels regularly.
    Assortment of printer screen screenshots that demonstrate how different printers provide ink level estimates within their own interfaces.
  4. Replace any cartridges that are flagged as being low or in a precautionary state.

The following illustrations are a general representation of what your printer's paper tray may look like. Your actual paper tray will vary depending on the manufacturer and model printer you have. However, most paper trays are made in a similar fashion.

  1. Slide the paper guides to their outermost positions.
    Illustration of an HP printer depicting the movement of the printer's paper tray guides.
  2. Load a stack of plain paper with the print-side facing up into the input tray, and then slide the stack forward until it stops.
    Illustration of an HP printer depicting standard paper being inserted into the paper tray.
  3. Slide the paper length and width guides so that they are resting against the stack of paper.
    Illustration of an HP printer depicting the paper guides being adjusted to fit the size paper that was inserted into the paper tray.
  1. Right click on your Start Menu icon and choose Run.
    Run highlighted on Power User Menu
  2. Type in services.msc into the Run box and click OK.
    Run dialog box with services.msc typed in
  3. Find Print Spooler in the list of services. Right click on it and and click on Stop.
    Print Spooler selected with stop highlighted
  4. Right click on your Start Menu icon and choose Run.
  5. In the Run dialog box, type in %windir%\System32\spool\PRINTERS and click on OK.
    Run dialog box with %windir%\System32\spool\PRINTERS typed in the search
  6. If you are prompted that you need permission to access the folder, click on Continue
    Asking for permission
  7. If you see any files in this folder, you will want to delete them.
    Files on a PC
  8. Right click on your Start Menu icon and choose Run.
    Choosing run
  9. Type in services.msc into the Run box and click OK.
    Running services
  10. Find Print Spooler in the list of services. Right click on it and and click on Start.
    Start highlighted
In the following steps we are going to uninstall your printer from your system and reinstall it. A generic printer may be pictured as a reference.
  1. Click Start then Settings.
    Start menu with Settings selected. Screenshot.
  2. Next, Select Apps.
    Windows Settings with Apps option selected. Screenshot.
  3. Scroll down and click on the program with your printer name listed.
    Apps list with Printer app selected. Screenshot.
  4. Click on Uninstall.
    Uninstall button on Printer app. Screenshot.
  5. Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
  1. To proceed, you should now install the software that came with your printer onto your PC or Mac computer, following the prompts accordingly.
    Example of printer installer.
  2. If you are unable to locate your original disc, you may be able to download the installer from the manufacturer's website.
  3. During the installation, you will be prompted to connect the USB and allow the computer to detect the printer.
    Connect computer to printer via USB prompt.
  4. Answer the decision point after your computer has failed to detect the printer or when you are prompted to review available networks.
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