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Why does my printer say "offline" and how to fix it
Printers continue to be a requirement in many households. Many banks, government services, schools, and other businesses ask for physical copies of forms and other documents, and many people still prefer using paper to study or work. The artistically inclined might also want to print physical copies of their photos or digital art. Nowadays you can even print from your Android phone or tablet. But printers also find a way to stop working at the most inopportune moments. If you are getting a “printer offline” error, here’s how to fix it and bring it back online.
To fix the "printer offline" error, you can try various troubleshooting steps like checking physical cables or network connectivity, resetting the print queue, restarting the essential printer service, running the printer troubleshooter, and more to bring your printer back online.
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Why does my printer say “offline?”
You will know when your printer is offline, either because you see the error message or it isn’t working. There are different reasons why your printer might be offline. There might be problems with the physical cable connecting the printer to your computer or network connectivity issues if you have a wireless printer. You might have made a mistake while installing the printer and the necessary software, or the printer drivers need to be updated. Printers will also stop working because of a full print queue, empty ink cartridges, and no paper.
You can still fix these issues relatively quickly. However, if the printer has a hardware problem, your only option is to contact customer service to get the printer repaired or replaced.
How to get your printer back online
Check cables and network connectivity
The first thing to do is check whether the cable connecting your computer and the power cable aren’t damaged. Check for torn or frayed cables. Test the USB cable with other devices, if possible, to see if it’s in working condition. It’s best to replace a damaged power cable even if it works, but you can use some electric tape if the damage is minor.
If you have a wireless printer, check if the Wi-Fi works on your phone or computer. Check out our guide on how to fix Wi-Fi issues if you notice any network problems. Use the printer companion app or desktop software to ensure that the printer and your device are on the same Wi-Fi network. This can be a problem for dual-band routers with separate 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz connection options.
Restart your printer and computer, phone, or tablet
Simply rebooting the connected devices might be enough to bring your printer back online. Unplug the router and turn off your device for at least 30 seconds before restarting them. Wait for the printer to reboot, re-establish the network connection fully, and see if the “printer is offline” error is gone.
Check the printer companion app
Most printers now come with companion apps that enable you to manage your printer settings, check ink and paper levels, and adjust other controls. Run the troubleshooter in the companion app to see if it can bring your printer back online.
Ensure that the printer isn’t in offline mode
On Windows 11, go to Start (Windows icon) > Settings (gear icon) > Bluetooth and devices > Printers and scanners.
Select your printer, go to Open print queue, and under the Printer dropdown, make sure Use printer offline isn’t selected. You might not see this option on some printers with a companion Windows app. Open the app to check the printer settings in that case.
Set your printer as the default printer
Go to Start (Windows icon) > Settings (gear icon) > Bluetooth and devices > Printers and scanners. Click on your printer and select Set as default.
You will have to change another setting if you don’t see the default setting option. Go back to the Printers and scanner page, scroll down, and toggle off Let Windows manage my default printer. You should now see the Set as default option in your printer settings.
Clear the print queue
Head back to Start (Windows icon) > Settings (gear icon) > Bluetooth and devices > Printers and scanners, select your printer and go to Open print queue. Select all the documents listed under Document name, select Document, and click Cancel.
Reset the print spooler service
The print spooler is the essential service that manages the printer queue. Resetting the service might help end the “printer is offline” error. Use the search bar, type Services, and select the Services (local) tab if it isn’t open by default. Scroll down to Print spooler. Right-click on the service and click Restart, or click Restart this service in the left-hand menu.
Update the printer firmware
Firmware bugs and glitches might cause your printer to go offline. Ensure you are running the latest software version on your printer to avoid issues. You can download updated firmware for your specific printer model from the device manufacturer’s website.
Run the printer troubleshooter
Windows can troubleshoot and fix your printer problems and bring it back online. Go to Start (Windows icon) > Settings (gear icon) > System > Troubleshoot > Other trouble-shooters and click Run next to Printer. The troubleshooting tool will check the Print Spooler service, fix print queue errors, check the printer’s network settings, and more. Windows will recommend any solutions to fix the printer’s offline issue if it detects errors.
Remove and reinstall your printer
If nothing works, your only option might be to uninstall and reinstall the printer to get it back online. Start (Windows icon) > Settings (gear icon) > Bluetooth and devices > Printers and scanners, select your printer, and click Remove. Unplug and restart your printer. Go to the Printers and scanners page and click Add device in the Add printer or scanner section. For Mac users, check our guide on how to add a printer to any Mac for more details.