How to Fix the “Can’t Connect to Printer” Error on Windows 11

Windows supports a lot of printers by default, so you can start printing right after connecting it to your PC. However, even after installing the correct drivers, you may encounter a “cannot connect to printer” error. This error might occur if you have not set up your printer correctly or if the printer cables might be loose, to name a few reasons.

Here are some troubleshooting methods if you are unable to print from certain apps or connect your printer to Windows.

1. Restart the Printer

Restarting the printer is the best way to fix most of the connection issues related to your printer.

It’s pretty simple to restart a printer by using the following steps:

  1. Turn off your printer by pressing the Power button.
  2. Once the printer’s display turns off, you’ve to remove the power cable from your printer.
  3. Wait at least 20 seconds before reconnecting the power cable.
  4. Now, you can order a test print from your Windows PC and check for connection issues.

In most cases, a simple restart should fix any connection issues with your printer. However, if this doesn’t get your job done, there are plenty of other ways too.

2. Check All the Connected Cables

Turn off your printer and disconnect it from the power source. Now, make sure to check all the connected cables of your printer. If any cable is loose, you’ve got to connect it properly to avoid connection issues. Also, if any cables are damaged or cut, the only resort is to replace them.

Also, before turning on the power, ensure the cables are connected to the correct ports. If you’re unsure about the ports, you can refer to your printer manufacturer’s website or the guide provided with the printer itself. Finally, you can turn the power on and check for errors by printing a test document.

3. Review Group Policy Editor

The Group Policy Editor (GPE) is an advanced configuration editor for the Windows OS. It lets your tweak most of the advanced Windows settings in no time.

When you connect a printer to your computer without administrator rights, Windows doesn’t allow you to install the drivers correctly. In such a case, you need to modify an option in the Group Policy Editor to fix it.

Follow the steps outlined below to resolve the connection issues with your printer:

  1. Open the Run menu by pressing Win + R on your keyboard.
  2. Now, type gpedit.msc and click OK.
  3. Under Computer Configuration, click Administrative Templates > Printers.
  4. Double click the Limits print driver installation to Administrators option and select Disabled.
  5. To save the changes, click Apply and then OK.
  6. Now you’ve to restart your PC.

Also, make sure that the Allow Print Spooler to accept client connections option is set to either Not Configured or Enabled.

Note: The GPE feature is exclusive to the Windows Pro, Education, and Enterprise editions. Therefore, you must use a workaround to access the Group Policy Editor on Windows Home.

4. Update Your Printer’s Driver

If you’ve not installed your printer’s drivers yet, head to your printer’s manufacturer’s website and download the necessary drivers from there.

If you’ve already installed the drivers and are still facing issues, you need to update the driver. Follow the steps mentioned below to update your printer’s driver:

  1. Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key and typing Device Manager.
  2. Click Open and select Print Queues to check all the connected Printers.
  3. Right-click on your printer name from the list.
  4. From the context menu that follows, click Update driver.
  5. If you’ve downloaded the latest driver file, select Browser my computer for drivers. Then, you’ve to choose the driver file from Windows Explorer to update the driver.
  6. If you don’t have the driver file, click Search automatically for drivers to update your printer’s driver.
  7. Once done, restart your PC.

If you’re not a geek and want a one-click solution, you can use any of the free driver updaters for Windows. Before running a driver scan, you must connect the printer to your computer.

If the pre-installed drivers are corrupted, it can cause printer issues. Thankfully, with every major update, Microsoft continuously adds support for more and more printers and their drivers. This is why we always recommend updating to the most recent Windows version.

5. Run the Printer Troubleshooter

Microsoft has provided a dedicated troubleshooter for fixing printer-related issues in Windows. So, if you’re still unable to resolve problems related to your printer, running a printer troubleshooter might be helpful.

Here are the steps you need to follow to run a printer troubleshooter:

  1. Press Win + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Click System > Troubleshoot > Other troubleshooters and click Run next to the Printer option. Once done, the troubleshooter will automatically show you the recommended fixes on the screen.
  3. Once all the fixes are applied, click Close the troubleshooter.
  4. Finally, restart your PC and re-check the connectivity.

If you’re not a techie, fixing Windows-related errors is a breeze with the help of the default troubleshooters. And if you’re interested in learning more, check out every troubleshooter in Windows 11.

6. Restart the Print Spooler Service

If you’ve already performed all the above steps but are still struggling, restarting the print spooler service may help ease your headache.

The Printer Spooler service in Windows helps the operating system recognize the connected printers. Thus, if the print spooler service is disabled, even by mistake, there’s no way you can get your printer working.

You can restart the spooler service using the steps given below:

  1. Open the Run menu by pressing the Win + R key combination.
  2. Once the menu appears, type services.msc and click OK.
  3. Scroll down and find Print Spooler in the list.
  4. Click the Print Spooler option and, on the left side of the screen, click Restart.
  5. That’s it. Try to reconnect your printer with your computer.

Get Your Printer Working Again

Hopefully, all the above methods may help you fix the “can’t connect to printer” error on your Windows computer.

While there’s no specific reason for this error, the most common fault comes from the printer driver. So, it’s highly recommended to update the drivers timely and don’t tweak any settings in Windows without prior knowledge.

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