Why can’t my computer find my printer?

Canon Pixma Pro printer
Printer, meet PC: sometimes they take convincing

Your PC is connected to the Wi-Fi network; your printer is connected to the Wi-Fi network. But can you get A to see B? Can you heck. Here’s what to do when your computer can’t find your printer.

This article is an extract from Help! My Computer Is Broken. Click here to find out more and order a copy.

The first thing to check is that your printer and PC are actually connected to the same network and both devices are turned on. Some dual-band Wi-Fi routers offer two networks you can connect to at home – one on the 2.4GHz band and one on the 5GHz band. Most devices will still detect another device on a different band, but just to make sure, connect them to the same band. (You’ll find more information about the different Wi-Fi bands here.)

If both are definitely connected to the same band, then it’s time to dive into Windows settings. Type “printer” into the Windows search bar and open the Printers & Scanners menu that appears. If your printer isn’t listed on that screen, press Add a printer or scanner and try and find it that way.

Windows printer settings

If your printer is listed, but there’s a little grey ‘offline’ label underneath it, we need to dig a little deeper. Click on the printer and select Manage. If this is your primary printer, press the Set As Default button – this can sometimes be enough to make Windows re-find the printer and make them best of friends from here on in.

If not, click on the Run The Troubleshooter link on that page. Windows will now perform a series of network tests to try and connect to your absent paper-spewer.

If that still doesn’t deliver any joy, go back a screen, click on the printer again and select Remove Device. This will uninstall the printer completely. Reboot your computer and then try adding the printer afresh.

On a Mac, you’ll find the printer settings by clicking on the Apple in the top left of the screen, selecting System Preferences and choosing Printers & Scanners. If your printer isn’t already in the list on the left, press the + button. You can also change the default printer from this screen, if more than one is installed on your Mac. 

Mac printer settings

Hopefully, your computer will find your printer and lead a long and happy life together…

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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