As a rule, we tend to upgrade our printers much less often than we upgrade the software on our computers. Microsoft and Apple are always releasing security updates and new features to make their Operating Systems more efficient, or faster, or safer. This can sometimes result in glitches, or incompatibility with other things - like the printer - that were working just fine before. It’s terribly frustrating, but it’s not always a printer death sentence.
Our troubleshooting guide is here to help you discover what’s causing the problem and, hopefully, help you resolve it by yourself.
Now we’re going to see if the printer is properly installed on your computer. Access your settings via the cog in your start menu and choose Devices then Printers and Scanners. Alternatively, you can type printers in the Windows search bar.
This window displays all the devices (i.e. printers and scanners) that are connected to the computer, either physically or wirelessly. You should be able to see the name of the printer you’re trying to use. It’s usually the manufacturer’s name followed by the model number and it’ll be in the manual or somewhere on the printer itself, if you’re not sure.
If your printer is visible but it’s not set as the default printer, your computer might be trying to send your printing somewhere else. To fix this, select the printer you want and choose Manage then Set as default.
It’s also worth trying the built-in Troubleshooting wizard. In the Printers and Scanners window, select your printer and click manage to bring up the menu, then choose Run the troubleshooter. This should tell you what’s wrong and give you advice or steps to follow to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, the Troubleshooting Wizard doesn’t always work.
In this situation, you can check if outdated software or drivers are causing the problem. Windows will search for updated drivers and install them automatically. Open your settings menu via the cog in your start menu and choose Devices in the window that opens. Then, instead of going straight to Printers and Scanners, as before, scroll down to Related Settings and select the link to Devices and Printers.
You can also get to this point via the Control Panel, by selecting Hardware and Sound then Devices and Printers. Select and open your printer to access its menu, then choose Customize Printer. Navigate to the Advanced tab in the menu that opens and select New Driver. Hit next in the wizard that opens and select the option for Windows to search for driver updates. If Windows finds any updates for you to install, simply follow the on-screen instructions. If Windows doesn’t find any driver updates, the next step covers how you can try searching the internet manually.
You can also manually download and install any driver updates yourself. It’s just a matter of searching your “make and model of printer + drivers” and following the instructions on the screen. If you have the original installation disc, running this will reinstall the originals but it won’t provide updated drivers. This will resolve the problem if a virus or computer fault has damaged or corrupted the original files.
If you cannot find your printer within the Printers and Scanners window, either under printers or unspecified, it may need reinstalling. This is easier than it sounds and is simple to check and resolve.
If none of these solve the problem, you may have to accept that your printer is broken, or simply incompatible with your OS. This might be the case if you’ve got a particularly old printer and you’ve recently updated your computer’s Operating System. If you suspect this, an internet search for your printer make and model + Windows version (i.e. Canon MX920 + Windows 10).