If your USB or network printer appears offline, this means you are trying to print to a printer that is either powered off, jammed, or that you are unable to communicate with for whatever reason. There are solutions if your printer appears offline, but you must first determine what is causing the problem. Is it network related, is there a problem with communication, or is there a physical problem with the printer? Fortunately, newer printers have sophisticated displays or LEDs that might generate clues as to what the problem is and how to correct it.
Printer Appears Offline Causes
Let’s run down some possible reasons why a printer appears offline to your computer. You create a job, click print and nothing happens. When opening the print queue, you realize there are either other jobs ahead of yours or your job is sitting there, stuck. Now what?
Printer Communication Problem – If your job is the only job in the print queue, you are likely having some sort of communication problem with the printer. Your first instinct will be to send the job again. This will put two jobs in the queue, both equally stuck. Instead, check your USB or network cable to confirm they are securely attached to both the computer and the printer. If they are, try powering down the printer and restarting it. This will fix the problem most of the time. If not, save your work and restart the computer.
Network Printer Problem – This can be similar to the communication issue, but much more complex. The printer either has a static IP address or a Dynamic IP address assigned by the DHCP server (usually your router). Find out what your computer’s IP address is by going to Start>Run and type cmd and hit OK. Next, type ipconfig /all. Your IP address will probably be something similar to 192.168.1.2. Next, compare this to the printer’s IP address. Your printer will have a way to print its settings. All models are different, so look in the menu for something that says Print Configuration and it will print its current settings. Look under the network section for the printer’s IP address and make sure it is similar to the IP address of your computer. If it is not, confirm it is set to get its IP address automatically and reboot the router AND the printer. If the printer has a static IP address, make the IP address similar to your computer’s.
Tip: Set the IP address above the routers DHCP range. You set the DHCP range in the router’s configuration. The range are the IP addresses the router will dynamically use. For instance, if you only have a maximum of 20 networked devices in your home, you might set the DHCP rage from 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.29. You can then set your printer’s static IP address to 192.168.1.30. Additionally, you can set any other networked printers on the network to the 192.168.1.30 to 192.168.1.39 range so you always know where to find your printers on the network.
If your printer appears offline, there are other network issues that might cause this: A computer could be sending large files to the printer (like PDFs or images) and the printer cannot buffer them. Or a computer is attempting to send a print job to a computer that can’t handle the paper size.
Locate any computers and clear their queue of the job or cancel the job using the printer’s menu, if possible.
Printer Has A Physical Problem – A printer appears offline occasionally because it might have a hardware problem. Check the printer for jams, empty paper trays, empty low ink. Most commercial-grade printers will also have a removable I/O card that can be replaced. This is the card on the back of the printer that accepts network, USB and other cables.
Printer Appears Offline Solutions
We’ve gone over some of the causes, now for the solution recap:
- Check Cables
- Reboot the PC, printer and router (if networked).
- Clear any jobs that might be causing all jobs behind it to fail.
- Check the IP address to make sure the printer is local.
- Make sure the printer is not jammed.
- Check paper, ink and other consumables that might be depleted.
- Open the printer queue to make sure the printer is not set to print offline.
- Remove and reinstall the printer with updated drivers from the Net.
- Check the printer’s I/O card and replace if all else has failed and you cannot communicate with the printer.
If your printer appears offline and none of these solutions have worked, join our free forums or read our other printer tutorials.