Can’t Find the Printer on Your Network in Windows 10?

Learn how to fix printer issues in Windows 10, 8, and 7

Man collecting papers at printer

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An inability to find a printer on a network usually occur when you are initially trying to set up a connection, but could also occur when attempting to use a wireless printer that was already connected. The printer will not appear in the list of available printers and devices when performing a search.

Cause of Inability to Find Printer on Network

The most common and easily resolved reason for this issue is that the printer is offline. However, it could also be caused by several other factors, including the following.

  • Disabled Windows settings.
  • The printer has not been added to the homegroup.
  • The printer is not connected to the network correctly.
  • Updates are required.
  • Network issues exist.

How to Fix Inability to Find Printer on Network

The solution for this issue can be as simple as a reboot. If this does not allow you to connect, checking settings, installing updates, and checking for network problems are the best steps to take.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

  1. Restart your Windows system. Sometimes you’ll also need to wait for your Windows system to install updates. Often, the combination of restarting the printer and your Windows system will resolve odd connection issues.

  2. Restart your router and modem. Doing so is another way to resolve simple network connectivity problems.

    When you restart your router, you will interrupt the network connection for every device on the network, so if other people are connected to the network be sure to make them aware of the interruption.

  3. Check your printer manufacturer’s instructions to learn how to update your printer’s firmware. On the printer, look through the menu options for a way to update the device. Download any newer version of the printer’s firmware detected and install it. This process may require a reboot of the printer.

  4. Download and install any available Windows updates. If prompted, allow the system to restart. Repeat the process until you see a message that says no updates are available. Then, test printing.

  5. Update your printer drivers in Windows. In most cases, you can find the most recent drivers for your device at the manufacturer’s website. Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP, for example, all provide device drivers online. Some manufacturers periodically release updates that fix problems, improve performance, or enhance security.

    Driver update software may require you to remove existing drivers, so be prepared for a possible system restart as part of that process.

  6. Update your router's firmware to fix various connection problems with specific devices. In many cases, you can access the router administration page by entering your router’s network address in a browser. If restarting and updating devices don’t fix your network printer problem, you may need to adjust specific settings to get things working again.

  7. Select alternative network connection methods in your printer’s administrative settings. If you consistently have difficulty connecting to a printer over your Wi-Fi network, you might try to establish either a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi direct connection, instead. Allowed connection methods may include wired networks (e.g., Ethernet), Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, in addition to Apple’s AirPrint and Google’s Cloud Print. Make sure to enable network printing options in your printer's settings.

    Screenshot of Windows 10
  8. If possible, configure your router to assign a static IP address to your printer. This ensures that your printer can always be found at a specific address. Without this configuration, it is possible that your printer’s address could change after a restart. In most cases, from your router’s administrator page, you can find your printer on a list of devices currently on your network, then adjust a setting to always assign the device a specific IP address.

    Screenshot from NetGear X4S R7800 router, showing IP address reservation screen, with field to add a new device (e.g., your printer) open
  9. You also might enable universal plug and play settings on your router. Again, this will be a setting in your router’s administrative settings. Most often, this is a simple checkbox option that is either enabled or not. With plug and play enabled, your printer and Windows system may more easily connect over your network.

    Screenshot of NetGear X4S R7800 router, with
  10. On your home network, connect to your Wi-Fi network and configure it as a “private” network in Windows. This will may it easier for devices on the network, such as your printer and Windows system, to “see” each other.

After restarting, updating, and configuring your devices you should be able to once again print from your Windows system to your network printer! Happy printing!