Computer Recognizes the Printer but the Printer Won't Respond

By Jane Williams

Your printer may not respond due to bad drivers or older jobs stuck in the print queue.
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You've loaded the paper, have plenty of ink and adjusted your settings accordingly, yet your printer refuses to obey your command. Although your computer may recognize the existence of the device, various issues can prevent the order to print from getting through, including a simple loose connection or outdated drivers.

Check All Connections

Before assuming the worst, take a moment to double-check all of the physical components of both your printer and computer. Make sure the printer is on and that all cables are connected securely, and double-check that the ink and paper is loaded properly. If connected through a wireless network, verify that the router is working and allowing the proper communication between all machines on the network. Turn the printer off and then on again, and try rebooting the computer to work out any odd program kinks that may have developed since the last shutdown. Remove the power cord from the wall, wait 10 seconds and then plug it back in to discharge any energy that may be causing the malfunction.

Remove and Reinstall

The printer may not cooperate because the initial installation was not performed correctly. Some printers install as simply as plugging in a USB cord, while other brands require installation of software first before connecting the machine to your computer. Doing these steps out of order can prevent proper operation. Uninstall the printer through the Control Panel, under the “Devices and Printers” icon. Right-click the icon of your printer and select “Remove Device.” Then reinstall the printer by carefully following the installation instructions that came with your device. If you no longer have the instructions, consult your printer manufacturer's website for proper installation procedures.

Download New Drivers

Things move fast in the computer world, and the drivers included with your printer's installation CD may not be the most recent. Out-of-date or corrupted drivers prevent proper communication between the computer and printer. Although your computer may see the printer, it can't communicate with it properly to use it. Visit the website of your printer manufacturer and download the newest drivers for your machine and operating system. Install the newest drivers and reboot.

Empty Print Queue

Sometimes your printer refuses to respond simply because there's a previous print job caught in the queue, causing a traffic jam of sorts. No new jobs can get through because of these stuck previous jobs. To manually clear the print queue, double-click on the printer icon in the notification bar at the bottom of your desktop screen. If there's no icon there, open the Control Panel, click “Devices and Printers” and double-click the printer icon. Under the Printers menu, select “Cancel All Documents.” This clears the print queue and allows you to send a new job.