Why can't I print?

Here are solutions to some common problems with printing. For a step-by-step tutorial to help you identify and fix common printer problems, go to Printer problems in Windows.

You can also try running a troubleshooter to diagnose and fix common printing problems.

To run a printing troubleshooter

  1. Click this button:

    Picture of a Fix it button

    Fix this problem

  2. Click Run, and then follow the steps in the wizard.

Show all

My printer doesn't print.

This is a difficult problem to diagnose because there are many printers on the market and numerous reasons why one might not work.

First, make sure your printer is on and connected to your Windows computer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then, try the Printer troubleshooter, which will attempt to automatically diagnose and fix your problem. (For more information, see Troubleshooting in Windows.)

  • Open the Printer troubleshooter by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type troubleshooter, and then click Troubleshooting. Under Hardware and Sound, click Use a printer.

Next, try updating the printer driver on your computer. Printer problems sometimes stem from out-of-date driver software, and can be solved by installing—or reinstalling—the latest driver.

To find the latest driver for your printer, first check Windows Update, which is designed to detect the hardware connected to your computer and automatically notify you when new drivers are available:

  1. Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.

  2. In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  3. If updates are found, click Install updates. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

If you don't see an updated printer driver listed, it's still possible that one exists: Your printer manufacturer might not have provided it to Microsoft yet.

Most printer manufacturers offer up-to-date drivers on the support sections of their websites. Drivers are typically organized by Windows edition and printer model. Once you find the proper driver, install it according to the manufacturer's instructions. For more information about printer drivers, see Find and install printer drivers for Windows 7 and Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

If your printer still doesn't print, consult the support section of your printer manufacturer's website for model-specific troubleshooting tips.

I see an error message about "spooler" problems.

A print spooler is software that temporarily stores print jobs on the computer hard disk or in memory until the printer is ready to print them.

If you've been waiting an unusually long time for a document to print, or if you see an error message about the print spooler, you might need to restart the print spooler on your computer.

The simplest way to restart the spooler is to save your work and restart the computer. You can also try these steps:

To restart the Print Spooler service

You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

  1. Open Administrative Tools by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type administrative tools, and then click Administrative Tools.

  2. Double-click Services. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. Right-click the Print Spooler service, and then click Properties.

  4. On the General tab, next to Startup type, make sure that Automatic is selected.

  5. If the service is not already running, under Service status, click Start, and then click OK. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

I want to add a network printer, but it's not offered in the Add Printer wizard.

If Windows can't detect a printer that you want to use, follow these steps to find and add the printer manually:

  1. Open Devices and Printers by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then, on the Start menu, clicking Devices and Printers.

  2. Click Add a printer.

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

  4. On the Searching for available printers page, click The printer that I want isn't listed.

  5. On the Find a printer by name or TCP/IP address page, choose how to find the printer that you want to use, based on the type or location of the printer, and then click Next.

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

I can't find a printer that I want to add in the Network folder.

To make sure that printers on the network are being displayed, check to see if the network is working correctly. For more information, see View the status of your network.

If the network is working correctly, try these troubleshooting options:

  • Make sure that all computers on the network are in the same workgroup. One way to do that is to change the workgroup names on your Windows 7–based computers. For information about changing a workgroup name, see Join or create a workgroup.

  • If you don't know the name or network address (a location on the network) of the printer, contact the person who installed the printer on the network or a system administrator. If your computer is connected to a network domain, you might not have permission to use some printers and the printers will not be displayed. To obtain permission, contact a system administrator.

  • If you are adding a printer that is plugged into another computer on the network and shared for other people to use, make sure that the computer where the printer is plugged in is turned on. You can also contact the computer owner to make sure that the computer is connected to the network or to see if the name of the printer has changed.

Article ID: MSW700078