Printers can be frustrating when they are not working correctly, due largely to the fact that errors can occur for seemingly no reason. Whether your print jobs don’t look right, you are getting constant paper jams, or printing is inconsistent or erratic, printers are often some of the most difficult electronic devices to work with. So if your printer is showing as offline and you can’t print, then you may be trying to figure out why it’s showing as offline when the printer was working before and nothing has changed.
One issue that you might encounter is Windows 7 not being able to connect to your printer to send documents that you want to print. Further investigation into the issue might lead you to discover that Windows 7 thinks the printer is offline.
There are several reasons why this might be occurring, so you will need to follow the instructions in this tutorial to learn how to change your printer from offline to online.
Once your printer is back online, it should then start printing the documents that you have sent to the printer that are currently sitting in your print queue.
How to Switch a Printer from Offline to Online in Windows 7
- Click Start, then Devices and Printers.
- Right-click the printer, then click See what’s printing.
- Select the Printer tab, then click Use printer offline to clear the check mark.
Our guide continues below with additional information on how to switch a printer from offline to online, including pictures for these steps.
If you’re lucky, then this should work and your queued documents will start printing. However, sometimes this isn’t enough and you need to do some more troubleshooting. We discuss those additional troubleshooting steps further in this article.
How Do You Change a Printer from Offline to Online? (Guide with Pictures)
Windows is recognizing your printer as being offline because it is unable to communicate with the printer. This can be caused by several different situations, so you need to pinpoint exactly from where the problem is originating.
Step 1: Click the Start button at the bottom-left corner of your screen, then click Devices and Printers.
Step 2: Right-click the printer that is showing as offline, then click See what’s printing.
Step 3: Click the Printer link at the top of this window, then click the Use Printer Offline option to remove the check mark.
If this solved your problem, then you are all set and can continue with your printing. However, if this did not resolve the issue, then there are some more troubleshooting steps you can try.
Additional Troubleshooting for an Offline Printer in Windows 7
- Check that the printer is turned on, and that the USB cable is properly connected to both the back of the printer and your computer. If your printer is wireless, you may need to restart the printer, then restart your computer to see if you can re-establish the wireless connection.
- If you are using a wireless printer, have you recently changed your router, or changed the name of the wireless network? If so, you may need to update your wireless printer with the new wireless network settings. If your wireless printer does not feature a control panel on the printer that allows you to change the network settings, you may need to temporarily connect the printer to your computer with a USB cable to modify the settings.
- If your wired printer is still showing an offline status, despite the fact that it is plugged in and connected to your computer, then there may be a problem with the port to which the device is connected.
How to Change a Printer Port in Windows 7
You can use these steps to change the printer port for a printer that has been set up in Windows 7.
Step 1: Return to the Devices and Printers menu, right-click your printer, then click Printer Properties.
Step 2: Click the Ports tab at the top of the window, choose the correct port from the list at the center of the window, click Apply, then click OK.
If you are still unable to print, then one final option you can attempt is to stop and restart the print spooler. You can follow the instructions in this article to learn how to manage the print spooler.
If you are still unable to print after following all of these instructions, then you may need to uninstall, then reinstall your printer. You can remove a printer from your computer by right-clicking the printer, then clicking Remove device. Once the printer has been uninstalled, follow your printer’s installation guide to properly reinstall it.
Why Is My Printer Offline?
The sections in the article above provide a bunch of different options and settings that you can check in order to see why your printer might be offline.
There are so many potential reasons that your printer might be offline that it’s hard to point to one specific reason why it might be happening.
In my experience, the best, simplest, and most useful thing that you can do when your printer is showing as offline is to simply restart the printer.
This can resolve issues related to a wireless printer that isn’t connected to a network, it can force the print spooler to restart, and it can fix print jobs that are stuck in the print queue.
While your printer is going through the process of restarting it can be helpful to restart your computer, too. And if you have a wireless printer and have been experiencing connection issues with other wireless devices as well, then even restarting your modem and your router might not be a bad idea.
Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.
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