Today, we’re going to look at an often frustrating issue that occurs from time to time, which is how to fix a print driver unavailable error on your Windows computer.
What is a print driver?
Having the current drivers installed for your printers ensures that you are able to access the full feature set of the printer that you are using. In the most basic sense, a print driver provides a set of instructions enabling your computer to interact with your printer.
How are printers connected to computers?
Printers can connect to computers several ways. The two most common methods are via your local network or by connecting them directly to your computer with the USB cable. Depending on the type of printer that you’re using and the type of connection that it has a print driver issue may not only impact your ability to print, but may also affect your ability to copy and scan.
How can I resolve a print driver unavailable error?
If you’re experiencing a print driver issue there are a few steps you can try to attempt to resolve it.
Before beginning, we recommend as a best practice that you are logged into the computer you are trying to troubleshoot as either a local administrator or as a user that has sufficient rights to make changes to printers and to install print drivers. If your account does not have the rights to make these changes, we recommend that your network administrator contact your network administrator for assistance.
1. Is Windows Operating System Up-To-Date?
The first thing we want to check is to see if you’re Windows operating system is up-to-date. This could be impacting your computer’s ability from working with your printer. To check to see if your Windows OS is up-to-date:
– In the Windows search bar begin typing the word update and from the list populated, click the option that says “Check For Updates”.
A new window will launch and it will show you the status of your Windows updates and let you know if any are pending. If there are updates available, we recommend that you run them and restart your computer and see if this corrects the issue.
2. Restart Printer Spooler
If your computer is up to-date and you’re still not able to print, the first role shooting step you can try is to stop and restart print spooler on your computer.
The print spooler is an indebted program that runs in the background of your Windows operating system, and it manages print files to send from your computer to the target printer.
Sometimes print jobs, especially ones that are printed directly for web browsers, can become corrupted in the print spooler causing you to hang up and prevent further printing.
- There are two ways to restart your print spooler.
- The first and simplest way is just to restart your computer completely.
- If you don’t want to restart your computer, you can restart the print spooler from the services console.
To access the services console, again from the Windows search bar, type the word services, and the services console app will be listed in the result list.
Once launched, you will see a long list of services that are currently running on your computer.
This list should be in alphabetical order, however, if it is not, you can arrange it by clicking the word Name in the top of the column.
Scroll down the list until you see a service called Print Spooler and select it.
Once selected, you will see a new set of options to the left of the list, one of which being Restart. Selecting this will restart the print spooler service. After you have restarted the print spooler you can attempt to print again to see if you are still experiencing issues.
One note of caution, while within the services console, stopping or starting other services in this list may have unwanted or adverse effects on your computer.
3. Deleting Printer and Print Driver
If restarting the print spooler doesn’t correct the issue, the next troubleshooting step would need to delete and re-install the printer and print driver.
Before you begin this process, you will want to ensure that you’ve already downloaded the appropriate print drivers for your device. All print manufacturers publish print drivers for their devices on their websites, and these can be found with an internet search.
For the purposes of this demonstration, I will be installing a print driver from a Konica Minolta multi-function printer.
- Open your browser of choice. (We used Google Chrome.)
- In the search bar, search for your printer’s print driver.
* Note that every manufacture’s website will look different, but all should be fairly easy to navigate.
- Select your device type.
- Select Drivers.
- Select the operating system you are using.
- Then you will see the available driver packages.
- Download the driver package.
- Once you have downloaded the new driver, the next step will be to remove the old printer.
- To do this, we will start from the control panel. From the Windows search bar start typing control, and there I see the control panel application pop up.
- In this control panel option, look for and select Devices and Printers.
- A new window will open and you will be able to see any printers installed on your computer.
- Find that printer that is not not working properly, and right click on it.
- Click on Delete Print Queue or Remove Device.
- A popup will ask you if you are sure you want to remove this device?
- Say yes.
- And it is going to completely remove the printer from the computer.
4. Reinstall Printer
Now we need to reinstall the printer. The great thing about most modern print driver packages is they come with an installer application. The installer application will not only locate the printer and I’m trying to install on my network, or if it were directly connected to my computer, it will also create the communication ports required and install the print driver for me automatically.
- Run the installer application.
- The installer will begin. Agree to the software license agreement. It will begin searching your local network to identify the printer. It should find your target printer at your IP address.
- Confirm installation settings and click install to begin the installation process.
- Once installed, click Finish.
5. Test Printer
- Now you should be able to see your printer has been added back to the listed printers.
- At this point, the last and final step would be to either send a test page from the printer itself.
- Right click the printer, click printer properties , then print test page.
- Or you could open up the application of your choice, select a document and attempt to print it to make sure that everything is working correctly.
Hopefully these troubleshooting steps have corrected your issue and you are printing once again.