How to Bring an Offline Printer Online

By Naomi Bolton

Storing and distributing documents digitally means that there is less need for printing files, but in some cases, printing is still important. Attempting to print a business document or contract and receiving an error that the printer is offline, can be frustrating and unproductive. Fortunately, troubleshooting this error is not too difficult, and a couple of options are available to bring the printer back online and ready to print your documents.

Check the printer to make sure that it is powered on. Consult your printer manual for instructions where to turn the printer on and off. A printer that is turned off will be detected by Windows, but it will not be able to print.

Check that the cable between the printer and computer is securely connected. A loose connection can cause the printer to be seen as offline, even if it is powered on. Also check that there is no paper jam or other errors, such as ink cartridges that are not correctly inserted.

Unplug the printer from the computer and turn it off, if it is still seen as offline. Wait about 30 seconds and then turn the printer back on. Plug the printer in to the computer again, and Windows will auto detect it and register it as online.

Click the "Start" button and then click "Devices and Printers" if the printer is still showing as not online. Double-click the icon of the printer that is offline.

Click the "Printer: Offline" link to display a new window. Click "Printer" and then click "Use Printer Offline" to deselect this option, if it is enabled.

Click the "Start" button and type "services.msc" into the Search programs and files input box. Press "Enter" to display the Services window.

Scroll down to "Print Spooler" on the list of options. Right-click "Print Spooler" and then click "Restart" from the list of options to bring the printer back online.

Right-click the "Network" icon on your taskbar and select "Open Network and Sharing Center" if the printer is part of the network and not connected to your PC directly.

Click the "Local Area Connection" link and check that your computer is connected to the network. Click "Diagnose" for Windows to try and troubleshoot the problem if you are not connected. Once you are connected to the network, the printer will be online.


If you have tried all these options and the printer is still offline, right-click the printer icon on the "Devices and Printers" menu and select "Troubleshoot" from the list of options. Windows will then attempt to determine what is wrong with the printer and fix the problem if possible.