How to fix printer not working on Windows 11

Here are six essential tips everyone should know to fix virtually any problem with a printer on Windows 11.

Windows 11 fix printer

On Windows 11, if your printer is not working (HP, Canon, Brother, Epson, or any other printer brand), it could be for many reasons. For example, the computer may have lost connectivity with the printer due to a software problem or an issue with the physical connection. It could be a driver problem or something happening with the “print spooler.” Or it could also be that you sent the print job to the wrong printer, among other issues.

Whatever the problem, you can follow many steps to fix the printing issue on Windows 11, from simple things like restarting the devices and checking the physical connection to using the troubleshooters to resetting the printer spooler and reinstalling the device driver.

This guide will teach you several ways to troubleshoot and resolve common problems to start printing again on Windows 11.

Fix not working printer on Windows 11

On Windows 11, you have several different ways to troubleshoot and fix issues when the printer is not working, no matter your brand (HP, Epson, Canon, Brother, etc.). To fix a printer, you can restart the device, check the connection, configure the default settings, run a troubleshooter, reset the printer spooler, and reinstall the printer.

1. Restart printer method 

Although it might be obvious to many people, it’s easy to forget that turning off, unplugging the power from the printer, and turning the peripheral back on can resolve the most common issues. For example, if Windows 11 is not detecting the USB printer, the printer suddenly starts having issues, or the device is unavailable.

Once the printer restart, you can try to print again. If the printer is still not working, restart your computer and try again. If the printer doesn’t respond, continue with another troubleshooting method.

2. Check connection method 

If you have a USB printer, ensure the data cable is properly connected to the printer and the computer. You can try disconnecting and reconnecting the cable. Also, you may want to try a different USB port on the device.

In the case this is a wireless printer, make sure that the wireless functionality is turned on and working on the printer. You can also try to run the wireless connectivity test from the printer. Usually, the printer will have a blue wireless icon indicating the connection. You may need to check your device manufacturer for more specific details.

If you have problems with other wireless devices, you may need to restart the router or access point to fix the connectivity issue.

3. Configure default printer method

It could also happen that you have multiple printers installed on your computer, and you are sending the print job to the default printer, which is unavailable in your location.

You can quickly fix this problem by selecting the correct device at the time of printing or changing the default printer settings. 

To change the default printer settings on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Bluetooth & devices.

  3. Click the Printers & scanners tab.

    Printers & scanners

  4. Under the “Printer preferences” section, turn off the “Let Windows manage my default printer” toggle switch.

    Disable Windows automatic default printer

  5. Select the printer from the list.

  6. Click the Set as default button.

    Change default printer

Once you complete the steps, you can try to print again.

However, if you already sent a print job to the wrong device, you may also need to open the queue and cancel any pending jobs before printing to the correct printer.

You can cancel the print job on Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers & scanners > (your) printer > Open print queue, right-click the job, and select the Cancel option.

4. Printer Troubleshooter method

Windows 11 comes with many troubleshooters, which are tools that run different scripts to diagnose and fix many common problems automatically. After checking the connections, you may want to run the “Printer” troubleshooter to resolve common driver and settings problems or issues after an update with the wireless or USB printer.

To fix printer problems with the troubleshooter option on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click the Troubleshoot tab.

  4. Click the Other troubleshooters setting.

    Other troubleshooters

  5. Under the “Most frequent” section, click the Run button for the “Printer” troubleshooter.

    Troubleshooter fix printer

  6. Select the printer (if applicable).

    Select printer not working

  7. Click the Next button.

  8. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

Once you complete the steps, the troubleshooter will run a series of scripts to resolve the printing problem.

5. Reset printer spooler method

One of the most common issues while printing is a document getting stuck in the queue, and trying to cancel the job, won’t work. If this happens, the problem is likely to be with the “print spooler,” which is the service that sends the printing jobs to the printer. 

To fix the print spooler service to continue printing on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for services.msc and click the top result to open the Services console.

  3. Right-click the Print Spooler service and select the Properties option.

    Print Spooler service properties

  4. Click the General tab.

  5. Click the Stop button.

    Stop Print Spooler service

  6. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.

  7. Type the following path to the printers folder and press Enter:

  8. C:\Windows\System32\spool\printers
  9. Click the Continue button (if applicable).

  10. Select everything in the “printers” folder (Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut) and hit the Delete button to remove the contents.

    Delete printers folder contents

  11. On the “Printer Spooler Properties” page, click the General tab.

  12. Click the Start button to restart the service.

    Start Print Spooler service

  13. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, you can try to print a document one more time, and the printer should work as expected.

6. Reinstall printer method

If the printer isn’t working because of a corrupted or bug in the driver, you may be able to fix this problem by uninstalling and reinstalling the printer driver.

Uninstall driver

To remove a printer on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 11

  2. Click on Bluetooth & devices.

  3. Click the Printers & scanners page on the right side.

  4. Select the printer to open its properties.

    Printers & scanners

  5. Click the Remove button.

    Windows 11 remove printer

  6. Click the Yes button.

Once you complete the steps, you can delete the driver from Windows 11.

Install printer automatically

To add a wireless printer on Windows 11, make sure the printer is turned on and connected to the network, and then use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Bluetooth & Devices.

  3. Click the Printers & scanners page on the right side.

  4. Click on the “Add a printer or scanner” button.

    Printers & scanners

  5. Click Add device to install the wireless printer to Windows 11.

    Install printer on Windows 11 wirelessly

Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 will automatically set up the wireless printer. You can check this guide for more ways to install a wireless printer on your computer. 

Install printer manually 

If this is a USB printer, disconnect and reconnect the USB cable to trigger the installation once you remove the driver.

If Windows 11 fails to find the printer, you may need to install it manually with these steps:

  1. Click the “Add manually” option for the “The printer that I want isn’t listed” option.

    Add network printer manually

  2. Select the “Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname” option.

    Add printer using IP address or hostname

  3. Click the Next button.

  4. Use the “Device type” drop-down menu and select the Autodetect option.

    Connect network printer on Windows 11

  5. Check the “Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use” option.

  6. Confirm the IP address of the printer (for example, 192.168.2.122).

  7. Click the Next button to install the wireless printer on Windows 11.

  8. Click the Next button.

  9. Select the “Do not share this printer” option.

    Do not share printer

  10. Click Next.

  11. (Optional) Click the “Print a test page” button to test the printer connection.

    Print test page

  12. Click the Finish button.

After you complete the steps, you can start printing from your laptop or desktop computer.

If this process didn’t resolve the issue, but the issue is related to the printer driver, you may need to uninstall and remove the driver from the computer before trying to reinstall the printer.

When the problem occurs after a driver or system update, rolling back to the previous version of the driver may resolve the problem or uninstall the most recent system update. Alternatively, you can also try downloading and installing an older printer driver version.