Mac Unable to Communicate with Your Printer? Try These Fixes

Printer Struggling Connect Mac Fixes

Technology is evolving all the time, yet printers still never seem to work when you need them to! Macs are notorious for connection issues with printers. Here we share a few troubleshooting tricks for when your Mac is unable to communicate with your printer.

By working your way through this article, you should be able to resolve your printing problems with minimal fuss.

Rule Out the Obvious

Let’s start by ruling out all the straightforward fixes. These steps may seem obvious, but they’re easy to overlook – especially when you’re angry!

If you’re using a cable, first check that the printer is connected to your Mac securely. Even if the connection seems secure, it doesn’t hurt to unplug the cable and re-attach it. Sometimes cables can quietly work themselves loose over time, so this may be enough to resolve your problem.

You should also check your printer for any error messages or warning lights. It’s possible that paper may have become jammed inside the printer or that it’s run out of ink. This can sometimes make it seem as though you’re hitting print and nothing’s happening.

Even if your printer seems to be functioning correctly, it’s still a good idea to turn the printer off and back on again. All technology is temperamental and can usually be fixed with a quick reboot.

Finally, we’d recommend powering your Mac down and then booting it back up to see whether this resolves your connection problems.

Check the network

If you’re trying to connect over Wi-Fi, then you should check that your network is online and functioning correctly. You should also verify that your printer and Mac are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

If everything seems okay but macOS is still struggling to connect to the printer, then a weak or spotty connection may be to blame. Wherever possible, you should try moving the printer closer to your router to strengthen the connection. You should also try disconnecting your Mac from the network and then reconnecting it.

If you’re still experiencing a weak or intermittent connection, you can often boost a weak signal by swapping wireless for ethernet. If you have access to an ethernet cable, try wiring your Mac and/or printer directly to your home network to see whether this kickstarts the connection.

If you suspect the issue may lie with your Wi-Fi network, then another potential workaround is to connect your printer to your Mac using a physical cable. This may not be a permanent solution, but it can be a lifesaver if you need to print an important document right now.

Check your print queue

If you’ve been battling with your printer for a while, you may have created a print queue. When a print queue spirals out of control, it can cause your printer to become unresponsive. This can create the impression that your Mac and your printer aren’t connected.

To check whether you’ve inadvertently created a print queue:

1. Navigate to “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners.”

2. In the menu on the left, choose the printer you want to inspect.

3. Select “Open Print Queue … ”

You can now see all the jobs that are currently queued for your printer.

You can clear the printer queue in your Mac's "System Preferences..."

If this window reveals a list of tasks, click to select each item in the queue, then select its accompanying “X” icon. Alternatively, if an item is paused, then this could be blocking your print queue. You should select the paused task and then either select “Resume” or “Start.”

After clearing your print queue, your printer may suddenly become responsive. If it doesn’t, then you may get positive results by restarting your printer manually.

Accessing macOS’s Printer Diagnostics

Sometimes . you may need to dig a little deeper and perform diagnostic functions. The diagnostic process will vary depending on your model of printer. However, you’ll typically find diagnostic settings in your Mac’s System Preferences. Follow the below instructions to do so.

1. In the upper-left corner select the “Apple” logo.

2. Navigate to “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners.”

3. In the menu on the left, select the printer you want to troubleshoot.

4. Choose your printer from the menu on the left.

5. Select the “Options & Supplies” button.

You can access macOS' printer diagnostic settings

This should launch a window containing various settings. You’ll typically find your printer’s diagnostic options in an area labelled “Utility” or “Diagnostics.”

Add the Printer Manually

Modern Macs do a pretty good job at automatically identifying nearby printers. However, there is a chance that your printer isn’t being recognized by macOS, particularly if you’ve recently added the printer to your network.

To add a printer manually, navigate to “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners.” You can then select the “+” button.

From here, you have a few options:

  • Default. This lists any printers that are physically connected to your Mac.
You can add a printer to macOS automatically.
  • IP. If the printer is connected to your network, try entering your IP address. This may be enough to get your Mac to recognize the printer in question.
Printer Macos Connection Ip Address
  • Windows. Have you set up file sharing on your Mac? This tab displays any printers that are connected to Windows PCs on your network.

Remove and Re-Add

Is your printer listed in “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners” selection but macOS is still struggling to connect? You may get positive results by removing the printer and then re-adding it manually.

To remove a printer:

1. Navigate to “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners.”

2. In the menu on the left, select the printer in question.

3. Click the “-” button. This printer will now vanish from your list.

4. Power down the printer and disconnect if it’s connected to your Mac via a cable.

To re-add the printer, power it back up. The printer may now appear in “System Preferences … -> Printers & Scanners” automatically. If the printer doesn’t appear, click the “+” button and follow the instructions to re-add the printer.

Update your printer drivers

If your printer’s drivers are out of date, you may be encountering an issue that’s already been fixed in a subsequent update.

To check whether any updates are available, launch the App store and then select “Updates.” You can now check the list of available updates and install anything printer-related.

Restore Factory Settings

If all attempts to regain connection have failed, you can try restoring your printer to its factory settings.

The restore and setup process will vary depending on your model of printer. You should be able to find the instructions for your printer by referring to the manufacturer’s website or the physical documentation that came with your printer.

Now that you have fixed the connection issue between your Mac and the printer, you can proceed to add (or remove) printers to your Mac or learn how to speed up the printing process.

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Jessica Thornsby Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’t obsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, and spending far too much time with her house rabbits.

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