How to Fix It When Your Printer Is Offline

Solutions to get your printer jobs moving again

Printing a document or image is usually a quick task. Occasionally, your printer may display an offline status and not process your print job. If your printer is offline for no apparent reason, a few printer troubleshooting steps will often get it back online and printing again.

Here's a look at why your printer is offline and what you can do to fix it.

This information applies to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7, as well as macOS Catalina (10.15) through OS X Mavericks (10.9).

Frustrated businessman with laptop displaying a printer offline error
Bruce Mars / Pexels

Causes of a Printer Being Offline

There are several reasons why your printer might be offline. There might be a problem with the printer cables, or perhaps a printer driver is corrupted, needs an update, or isn't installed. Some printer settings might be incorrect, or an open or incomplete print job is causing an error.

Whatever the reason, restoring your printer to online status is usually a quick and easy job.

How to Fix It When Your Printer Is Offline in Windows

If you use a printer with a Windows computer, and the printer status is offline, try these troubleshooting steps in the order we present them, from simple to more complicated.

  1. Plug in the printer and turn it on. It's important to check that the printer is operational.

  2. Reboot the computer. Restarting a computer solves many errors and problems. Give this a try and see if it solves the offline printer problem.

  3. Power cycle the printer. As with many electronic devices, turning a printer off and on again often fixes problems, including a printer that appears offline. Turn the printer off, unplug it, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in. Turn it on and try again. If it still shows offline, continue troubleshooting.

  4. Check the network connection status. If the printer is wireless, it needs a network connection to your PC to work. If your network is offline, you've likely found the problem.

    When other devices in your home or office are online, your network is up.

  5. Make sure the printer is connected to the network or computer. If the printer isn't properly connected to the network or computer, it won't respond. If the printer physically connects to the computer, make sure the cables are securely plugged in. If it's a wireless printer, check its network connection status.

    Some printers have an option to test wireless connectivity. Check the printer manufacturer's website to find out if your model has this ability. If so, run a connectivity test to ensure it's properly connected.

  6. Change the printer status. Your printer might be set to use the printer offline. Confirm the printer isn't set for offline use. If it is, change the status to online.

  7. Update the driver. Make sure you installed the most recent printer driver available. An outdated or incompatible driver can cause a printer to display an offline status, so updating the driver could solve the problem.

  8. Uninstall and reinstall the printer. This process gives the printer a fresh start. After you uninstall the printer, restart the computer and then reinstall the printer.

  9. Consult the printer's manufacturer documentation. Your printer manufacturer's online documentation may provide specific guidance about error messages and what each means. You may also have a paper manual that came with the device.

    Common printer manufacturers include HP, Epson, Canon, Brother, Samsung, Kyocera, Lexmark, Ricoh, and Toshiba.

How to Fix It When Your Printer Is Offline on a Mac

If you're troubleshooting an offline printer with your Mac, some of the fixes are the same as those for a Windows PC.

  1. Turn the Mac off and back on. As with Windows PCs, many Mac problems are cured by a simple restart.

  2. Power cycle the printer. As with many electronic devices, turning a printer off and on again often fixes problems, including a printer that appears offline. Turn the printer off, unplug it, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in. Turn it on and try again. If it still shows offline, continue troubleshooting.

  3. Make sure the printer is connected to the network or computer. If the printer isn't properly connected to the network, or to your computer, it won't respond. If the printer physically connects to the computer, make sure the cables are securely plugged in. If it's a wireless printer, check its network connection status.

  4. Make sure the printer is set as the default. A different printer may be set as the default printer, which could kick the printer you want to use offline.

  5. Delete any open print jobs. A print job could be stuck, causing a backlog and sending the printer into offline status. Delete open print jobs, then try your print job again.

  6. Uninstall and reinstall the printer. This process gives the printer a fresh start. After you uninstall the printer, restart your computer and then reinstall the printer.

  7. Reset the Mac's printing system. If all else fails, reset the Mac's printing system. This should be a last resort because it removes several permissions and settings, so proceed with caution.