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How to Fix a Printer in Error State on Windows 10

Printer problems are often hard to fix. A printer may be fine hardware-wise i.e. no page jams, correctly set up, toner ready, cartridges full etc, but it may still refuse to print.

Printing problems are mostly caused by software or OS-related issues. This is because, while technology has improved over the years, printer technology hasn’t made much progress. The old adage ‘Printers are from hell’ still holds true.

Printer in error state

A printer may enter an error state and refuse to exit it no matter what. An error state is normally when the printer is out of paper, offline, or getting ready to print. These errors are obvious and easy to fix. 

If the printer indicates it’s in an error state, usually indicated by a yellow exclamation mark on the printer icon in the system tray is unaccompanied by an error message. It’s anyone’s guess as to what is wrong. Restarting the system or disconnecting and reconnecting the printer does little to solve the problem. Try the fixes listed below.

1. Change port configuration

Changing how a port communicates with the printer can bring it out of its error state. Try this fix even if your printer model is new.

  1. Open Device Manager.
  2. Go to View>Show hidden devices.
  3. Right-click Ports (COM & LPT).
  4. Select Properties from the context menu.
  5. Go to the Port Settings tab.
  6. Enable ‘Use any interrupt assigned to the port’.
  7. Enable the ‘Enable legacy plug & play detection’.
  8. Click OK and close the window.
  9. Restart the printer and the system.

2. Uninstall and reinstall printer

If the printer does not come out of its error state, uninstall and reinstall it. 

  1. Open the Settings app with the Win+I keyboard shortcut.
  2. Go to Devices.
  3. Select the Printers & scanners tab.
  4. Select your printer and click remove.
  5. Unplug the printer and restart the system.
  6. Connect the printer and it will install again automatically.

3. Print from a different app

If the printer is constantly entering its error state when you try to print from a particular app, try printing from a different. Print a plain text file from Notepad. If it prints, the problem may be with the app you’re trying to print from. 

4. Check Print spooler service

The Print spooler service is essential if you want to print anything. If it isn’t running, or it stops intermittently, your printer may enter an error state. 

  1. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box.
  2. In the run box, enter services.msc and tap the Enter key.
  3. Look for the Print spooler service and right-click it.
  4. Open the Startup type dropdown and set it to Automatic.
  5. Click Ok.
  6. Restart the system.

5. Install pending updates

If you have pending updates that need to be installed, they may be causing problems with the printer. 

  1. Open the Settings app with the Win+I keyboard shortcut.
  2. Go to Update & Security.
  3. Select the Windows Update tab.
  4. Click Check for updates.
  5. Install any available updates and restart the system.

Printer in error state: Conclusion

The above solutions will bring the printer out of its error state however, if it continues to enter the error state after completing a few print jobs, consider changing the cable that you use to connect the printer to the system. Your printer’s hardware may be failing. It can happen if you do not perform maintenance regularly of it the toner has dried up. Have it taken in for a check-up. 

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