What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (2023)

Most of the time, Windows automatically sees any printer on the same network as your PC. But what if your computer can’t see the printer, or simply refuses to connect? Adding a printer on a local networkis simple in theory, but the reality is that, when the process goes wrong, it can be tricky to unravel.

Running the "Add a printer or scanner" wizard or the printer troubleshooter should fix the problem, in most cases. If this doesn't work, though, these easy troubleshooting steps can rescue the day.

Find a Connected Printer

A printer can connect to a network on either an Ethernet or Wi-Fi local area network (LAN), or you can connect it directly via USB to a computer on the network. Either connection type can be shared with other users on the network by enabling print sharing on the server or on the computer to which the USB printer is connected.

Windows' "Add a printer or scanner" wizard is accessible from the "Printers & scanners" section in the Settings Control Panel. (In Windows 7, it’s the Add Printer wizard accessible from the Devices and Printers Control Panel.) The specific details vary between Windows versions, but the procedure is pretty much the same.

However, unlike earlier versions, Windows 10 doesn’t usually require you to run a wizard in the first place. Instead, when you plug your Ethernet cable into the printer or connect the printer to your wireless network, in most cases the printer will simply show up automatically in the list of installed devices.

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (1)

When you install a printer on your LAN, it will usually show up automatically in the list of installed printers and scanners.

(In Windows 7 and earlier versions, when you click the Add Printer link, Windows will automatically search for printers on the network. The printer name(s) will pop up, and you can select one. Add it, and with any luck, you will be ready to print.)

If your device is not listed here, click "Add a printer or scanner." Windows starts searching your network for connected printers and lists its findings, as shown below. Simply click the printer you want to connect to, then click "Add device."

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (2)

Click "Add a printer or scanner," and Windows starts searching your LAN for new printers.

Windows will move the printer to the list of installed printers and scanners. From here, when you click the printer name in the list, you can manage the machine as desired.

Troubleshooting a Missing Printer

Of course, a printer doesn't always install as it should. It may not appear at all in the list of available printers, or you might get a message that Windows can't connect to it. The first steps would be to make sure of the basics.

That means ensuring the printer is on and connected to the same network as the PC to which you want it added. You should also check thatprint sharing is enabled on the computer to which it's attached. For a home network, that would be the computer on which you installed the printer's software.

From here, you have two options. Either click the option "The printer that I want isn't listed," located directly below the list of printers discovered in the connected device search, or run the troubleshooter.

(Video) Printer not recognized by your computer - quick fix

One thing to know: Just because you don't see a printer doesn't mean it isn't there. Some IT departments hide the names of all printers by default. Although IT likely has good reasons for doing so, hidden printers can be an impediment when there is a legitimate need for someone to connect to a particular one. There are other issues that may preventyou from seeing an accessible printer, too.

Adding an Unseen Printer

In the "Find a printer by other options" dialog box, you'll see five ways to find and connect to your printer. (Note that this dialog box has only three options in earlier versions of Windows.)

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (3)

"Find a printer on your network," with the "Find a printer by other options" wizard.

My printer is a little older. Help me find it: When you choose this option, Windows performs another search. If it finds your printer, it will display a second dialog box. Select your printer, and Windows will install the drivers. If your printer is not listed, try one of the other options in this dialog box (which will probably require another "Add a printer or scanner" search from the Printers & scanners Control Panel).

Select a printer by name: To use this option, you must know the name of the computer that the printer is connected to and the network name of the printer itself. If you're doing this in an office for a network-attached printer, and you don't know the printer name, you'll have to ask another employee who uses it, or get it from your IT department. Notice the naming examples directly below this option in the image above.

Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname: Choosing this option brings up the "Type a printer hostname or IP address" dialog box. Here, again, you’ll need to obtain the hostname or IP address. Enter the address or hostname, and click Next.

On a home network, you can get the printer’s IP address from its control panel by printing a status report or from the printer's built-in onboard web portal.

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (4)

Connecting to the printer using its network IP address.

Windows will query the printer, and then display a list of compatible devices, allowing you to select your printer by manufacturer and type. After making your selections, click Next, and it should connect your PC to the printer.If not, move on to the Running the Troubleshooter section below.

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (5)

Choose the manufacturer and device type to install the correct printer driver.

Add a Bluetooth, wireless or network discoverable printer: With this option, you can add peer-to-peer network devices that are not actually on your LAN. (Windows does a brute search for all available protocols available to your PC.).

Add a local printer or network with manual settings: Choosing this option runs a wizard that walks you through a series of steps for manually creating a printer port and installing the printer, which requires technical expertise beyond the scope of this entry-level guide.

(Video) How to Fix Windows Cannot Connect to Printer - Error 0x0000011b

At any point in the process, or if any one of these methods fails, you can run the Windows troubleshooter to try connecting to the printer.

Recommended by Our Editors

How to Print From Your iPad

Before You Print: How to Color Calibrate Your Monitor to Your Printer

Running the Troubleshooter

To run the troubleshooter, the printer you’re having trouble connecting or printing to must be displayed in the available devices list in the Printers & scanners Control Panel. To run it, click the printer in the list, then click Manage.

This brings up the "Manage your device" panel for that specific printer. In the list of options near the bottom of the panel, click "Run the troubleshooter."

(Video) Printer Not Connecting to Computer in Windows 10 FIX

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (8)

Find "Run the troubleshooter" and click it.

Windows then starts searching for problems.

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (9)

The troubleshooter, looking for issues.

If Windows detects a problem, it displays another dialog box informing you of the problem and, depending on what the problem is, provides an "Apply this fix" option and a "Skip this fix" option...

What to Do if Windows Can't Connect to Your Printer (10)

If the troubleshooter finds a problem, it offers you the option of fixing it or continuing the search for problems.

If you choose the former, Windows will attempt to solve the problem and connect to the printer. If you choose the latter, the troubleshooter will continue to run, searching for additional issues.

What happens next depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to) which option you pick and what problem(s) are detected. In the above example, Windows suggests that making the device the default printer will solve the problem.

If you click "Apply the fix," Windows makes the printer the default and asks you if this solved the problem. If you click "Skip this fix," the troubleshooter starts looking for other issues, and, if it finds any, it displays another dialog asking you if you want to apply the fix or keep looking for problems.

Again, depending on what option you choose and what problems the troubleshooter finds, your issue might be solved right away, or it could take a few tries. In the rare chance these troubleshooting steps can't solve the problem, contact IT or call customer service for your printer's manufacturer.

In most cases, though, thetechniques discussed here should eventually connect your PC to the printer. Now, if you know the printer is connected, but you still can't print, it could be a completely different issue that we can help you troubleshoot here.

Like What You're Reading?

Sign up for Tips & Tricks newsletter for expert advice to get the most out of your technology.

This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.

(Video) Windows Cannot Connect to the Printer | Fix Failed Error (Window 10, 7)

Thanks for signing up!

Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!

Sign up for other newsletters


1. windows couldn't connect to the printer
(ict school)
2. Share Printer Not Connecting | Operation failed with error 0x0000011b Windows 10
3. Fix Printer Not Accepting Print Command
4. Spring Rep Assembly
(Reading University Students' Union)
5. Windows Couldn’t Connect To The Printer. Check The Printer Name And Try Again.
(Microsoft Sarker)
6. How To Fix Windows Cannot Print Due To A Problem With The Current Printer Setup Microsoft Word Error
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Allyn Kozey

Last Updated: 12/26/2022

Views: 5760

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Allyn Kozey

Birthday: 1993-12-21

Address: Suite 454 40343 Larson Union, Port Melia, TX 16164

Phone: +2456904400762

Job: Investor Administrator

Hobby: Sketching, Puzzles, Pet, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Dowsing, Sports

Introduction: My name is Allyn Kozey, I am a outstanding, colorful, adventurous, encouraging, zealous, tender, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.