Why Is My Printer Not Connecting To My Computer


1. Always start by checking connections and cables are fully secured and that everything is powered on. 2. Look in your Devices panel to see if your printer is visible...

Author: Trey Williams
Category: Hardware
Author: Trey Williams
Category: Hardware



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.

Physical Checks

  1. 1. First things first, check the power cable. Is it plugged into an electrical outlet and firmly attached to your printer?

  2. 2. If you’re trying to connect to a local printer (i.e. one that’s physically connected to your computer) make sure that the USB cable is properly connected and hasn’t come loose at either end. Turn both devices off and on again. It’s not essential but waiting until the computer is fully booted up before switching the printer back on will improve the chance of the computer recognizing the connection between the two.

  3. 3. If you’re trying to connect to a printer via Wi-Fi, check your router to ensure it is on and connected to the internet. Then check the printer on-screen menu for evidence that it’s also connected to the correct wireless network. If it’s not, you will have to input your wireless password, at the very least. It’s best to consult your printer manual for this part as wireless connectivity options and set up vary widely across models and manufacturers.

  4. 4. If you have a printer that connects wirelessly via Bluetooth, you should have an option to pair with your router and computer. Again, we recommend checking the specifics of how to do this in your printer manual, because of the wide range of methods pertaining to different makes and models. Try this handy link for a great big list of manuals available for free download.

Connecting to the Printer

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.

Printer Visible

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.

Printer Not Visible

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.

  1. 1. Click the option at the top of the window to Add a Printer or Scanner and wait while your computer tries to find your printer. If the computer finds your printer, you just need to follow the steps on screen in order to install the printer and Windows will do everything - including downloading all the bits you need - automatically.

  2. 2. If the computer doesn’t find your printer by itself, hit the button that says The Printer I Want Isn’t Listed. From the options you get, select My Printer is a Little Older to prompt the computer to search again, for printers that are physically connected.

  3. 3. If the computer locates your printer this way, you just need to click next a few times through the installation wizard and the computer will take care of the rest.

  4. 4. If your computer still can’t find the printer, you’ll need to install it yourself, manually. To do this, you need the right software - or drivers - for your make and model of printer. Either consult your manufacturer or run a web search for the make and model number of your printer + drivers. Download and run the .exe file, then follow the instructions on the screen.

Still Unable to Connect?

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).

Summary

  1. 1. Always start by checking connections and cables are fully secured, and that everything is powered on.

  2. 2. Look in your Devices panel to see if your printer is visible - this confirms that the computer knows it’s there and everything is installed correctly.

  3. 3. Check that the printer you want to use is set as the default printer.

  4. 4. Run the Printer Troubleshooting wizard and follow any on-screen instructions.

  5. 5. If you can’t see your printer listed in the Devices panel, install it via the Add a Printer or Scanner button, following any on-screen instructions.

  6. 6. If you can’t find the right printer using this method, you can search the internet for the drivers you need and install them manually.

  7. 7. If all else fails, seek professional help after running an internet search to check whether your printer is compatible with your current version of Windows.