You’ve finished your document, you’re ready to print, you click the button, and this message appears:
Printer Driver is Unavailable
Thankfully, this is a common problem that’s generally easy to fix.
There are typically a handful of reasons you might be seeing this annoying notification. Together, we’ll troubleshoot the most likely issues so you can figure out what the problem is and get back on track.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using an HP, Epson, Canon, or another brand – when you see the “printer driver is unavailable” message pop up, it simply means your computer can’t communicate with your printer.
Ordinarily, your operating system can find and send documents to your printer via software installed when you first hooked it up.
But sometimes, that software becomes corrupted or outdated, and the connection between devices is broken. Here are the most common reasons this can happen and how to fix them.
1. Out of Date Operating System
A computer’s operating system is continually updated to iron out bugs, add features, or update existing applications.
If you’re not using the most up-to-date version of your operating system, it can affect the existing software on your machine.
Check for updates (on Windows, you can do this by typing ‘update’ into the Windows search bar), and then download and install any recommended upgrades.
Once this process is complete, you should restart your computer when prompted and then try printing a test page.
2. Incompatible Printer
Did you recently buy your printer? Or perhaps you’re using an older printer with a new laptop?
If so, there’s a chance your printer is temporarily incompatible with your computer. To fix this, you can try reinstalling the printer driver. The printer driver is responsible for converting the item you are trying to print into a format that the printer can understand. If your printer and computer are incompatible, it is like they are able to speak but are speaking two different languages.
To reinstall your printer driver, you need to download the newest driver for your printer:
- You can find the latest driver for your printer by visiting the company’s website:
- Once on the website, find the correct driver by searching for your printer using the product type or serial number.
- Open the associated drivers and download the newest driver available.
- Once the driver has been downloaded on your computer, follow the prompts to install it.
Once the driver is installed, it is typically best to remove and reinstall your printer:
To remove and reinstall a printer with Windows:
- Click on the “Start” button on your computer and select “Control Panel” from the list.
- In the window that appears, select “Devices and Printers” (or the equivalent menu option).
- Right-click on your printer and select “Remove device.”
- To reinstall the printer, click “Add a Printer” on the “Devices and Printers” window and follow the prompts.
To remove and reinstall a printer with MacOS:
- In the “Apple” menu, click “System Preferences” and select “Print & Scan.”
- Right-click anywhere in the “Print & Scan” window and select “Reset Printing System.” This will remove your printer from the computer.
- Once the reset is complete, select “Add Printer or Scanner” and choose your printer. Follow the subsequent prompts to reinstall your computer.
3. Incorrectly Installing a New Printer
If you’ve just bought your printer, it’s worth double-checking to confirm that it’s been connected/installed properly. And if you’re using a plug-and-play printer – one that connects to your laptop via a USB cable – you’ll need to add it to your devices, or the computer won’t recognize it.
Thankfully, these are both easy fixes. Simply disconnect your printer from your computer (by unplugging all the connecting cables). Remember to do this carefully, and pay attention to which sockets match which cables so you can easily reconnect them.
After that, plug everything back in. This should prompt your computer to begin the set-up or installation process. Once that happens, just follow the instructions on the screen.
If the set-up wizard doesn’t launch automatically, you’ll have to trigger it manually. Go into “settings,” then “devices,” and find the “add printer” feature. When you press this, the computer should start scanning for any devices and begin installing them into the operating system. Again, follow the set-up instructions as they appear.
4. Your Printer is Offline
Sometimes your computer can’t communicate with your printer simply because it’s not showing up online.
If you’re using a wireless printer, it needs to be on the same network as your computer to be available. To check the WiFi status of your printer, from the control panel, select the network settings function and press “Confirm Network Settings.” Your computer and printer must not only be connected to WiFi but connected to the same WiFi network.
If your printer is offline, you can try bringing it back online by manually restarting and resetting it. To restart your printer, turn it off, unplug the power cord, and let it sit for at least 30 seconds before plugging it in and restarting it.
Printers can be tricky. If you’re getting the dreaded “printer driver is unavailable” message, it can be extremely frustrating, but try not to panic. It’s often something simple.
The most common reasons why your printer driver might not be showing up on your computer are:
- You’re using an out of date operating system
- The printer is incompatible and needs to be updated or changed
- Your printer wasn’t installed/connected properly
- Your printer is offline
Printing problems happen, and they’re not always easy to diagnose. That said, the troubleshooting steps above should help lead to a fix. If not, you can always reach out to your printer manufacturer or explore other troubleshooting solutions at PrinterTesting.com.