Troubleshoot printer problems

Here are solutions to common problems with printers. 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. In the File Download dialog box, 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 print.

First, make sure your printer is powered up and connected to your Windows computer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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 Printer problems sometimes stem from out-of-date driver software, and can be solved by installing, or reinstalling, the latest driver.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, clicking All Programs, and then clicking 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 any updates are found, click Install updates. Administrator permission required If you are 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 may 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, download and install it according to the manufacturer's instructions. For more help, see 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, or the printer is printing more slowly than usual.

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, spooler subsystem, or spooler resources, you might need to change and then restart the Print Spooler service on your computer.

To do this, we recommend that you save your work, and then restart the computer to restart the Print Spooler service. If you don't want to restart the computer, try these steps instead.

To change or 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, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Administrative Tools.

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

The printer only prints part of a page, prints blurry ink, or prints faded or inaccurate colors.

You might need to replace an ink or toner cartridge. Check the status information in the print queue for low ink or toner messages. If the printer has a status or display area, you can also check for low ink or toner messages on the printer itself. For more information, see Change an ink or toner cartridge and View the print queue.

The printer is out of paper.

Reload the paper tray or, if the printer has more than one tray, make sure that you reload the tray that contains the paper size you selected. To see how to load printer paper for your printer, refer to the information that came with the printer. Some printers also provide steps in a status or display area on the printer itself.

If you add paper but still receive an out-of-paper message, check the print options for the document to see if you've selected the correct paper tray or source.

Paper is caught in the printer (paper jam).

To prevent damage to the printer, check the information that came with the printer to see how to remove paper jams. Depending on the printer and where the problem occurred, you might want to try one of these options:

  • Go to the printer, check for messages in the status or display area on the printer that might tell you where the problem occurred, and then complete any steps provided to remove the paper jam. If the printer does not display information about the problem, check the information that came with the printer. If the printer is connected to a network domain, contact a system administrator or your company support desk for assistance.

  • Some printers offer a button that you can press and hold, or another paper feed option that you can use to try to extract paper without damaging the printer.

  • You might need to open the printer casing and remove the paper that is causing the problem. Before you do, check the information that came with the printer to see if you should turn off the printer or take other steps to prevent injury to yourself or damage to the printer.

    You should also check if opening the printer casing will void the warranty or any repair agreements that you've purchased or that came with the printer. For information about agreements, check the retail and manufacturer information that came with the printer.