How Can I Correct a Problem with My Printer Being Offline?

By Dan Stone

A perfectly fine computer can get stuck in offline mode.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

A printer registering as offline that appears to be online and properly set up can be a real nuisance, especially if it was working correctly just days ago. However, there are a lot of steps in between a print request from the computer and the printer providing the document, during which something can go wrong. The problem may be something as simple as a bad setting or as complicated as corruption of the software needed to run the device.

Uncheck Offline Printing

It's possible that a connection interruption has tripped the computer into sending print jobs to the printer in offline mode. In this situation, the computer is queuing the print jobs locally. To check if the computer is printing in offline mode, open the system's Control Panel and click the "Devices" option. Right-click on the printer and select the "See what's printing" option to bring up the printer's queue. Click the "Printer" menu and uncheck the "User Printer Offline" option if it's checked. Any queued print jobs should send automatically.

Power Cycle

A printer's offline status may be fixed by simply turning off all the devices between and including the computer and the printer before turning them all back on. This includes routers, network switches and standalone print servers. Turn the devices back on after they've all been turned off for about a minute to make sure they all get a fresh start at the same time.

Check Connections

Computer cables can come loose. If the printer is registering as offline, try disconnecting and reconnecting the USB or network cable the printer uses to connect to the computer or router. Disconnect and reconnect the cable from the printer itself as well. For Wi-Fi printers, run the network connection setup again. If possible, try plugging the printer cable into another port of the same connection type on the computer, router or print server. There's a chance that another piece of hardware connected to the computer is trying to use the same connection channel as the printer. You can also try using a different cable to rule out a faulty cable.

Uninstall, Reinstall and Update

If the printer is registering in offline mode because of a software issue, you can try to fix it by uninstalling and reinstalling the printer drivers. To do this, go to the "Devices" menu on the Control Panel, right-click on the printer and select "remove device." If you've installed additional software with your printer, you can try uninstalling that as well. Disconnect the printer from the computer, reboot and then reconnect the printer. Windows should recognize the printer and reinstall the printer drivers needed to run the printer. Next, run Windows Update and install any software updates pertaining to your printer. You can install the special software for the printer again at this point.