Having printer problems in Windows 10? We show you how to fix them

Printers are hugely popular PC accessories but also the most prone to problems after an upgrade to Windows 10. Here are our tips to get things working again.

Windows 10 is a pretty solid operating system, especailly when many of us upgraded to it for free during the first year. But of course, nothing is perfect.

One common problem with such upgrades, however, is printer support. Windows 10 should have warned you if it wasn’t going to support your printer before you installed it, but even supported models may not work smoothly after an upgrade. New operating systems don’t always include drivers for old printers and manufacturers don’t always provide updated drivers in a timely fashion.

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Step 1: Open the Printers control panel

The first step in troubleshooting a printer problem is to use Windows 10’s own troubleshooting tools. Search for printers in the Windows 10 Search box and select Devices and Printers from the list of results. This will open the Devices and Printers Control Panel pane.

1. Open the control panel

Step 2: Troubleshoot a connected printer

Look in the window for your printer — it might be listed under Printers or Unspecified, If it’s there, right-click it and choose Troubleshoot from the menu that appears. Follow the on-screen instructions for troubleshooting the printer, but be prepared for this to not work — it won’t always.

2. Start Windows troubleshooting

Step 3: Check if your printer is installed

If Windows 10 troubleshooting doesn’t work, or if Windows 10 hasn’t detected your printer, the next step is to check whether or not it’s been installed. Click Start and go to Settings - Devices - Printers & scanners.

If you don’t see your printer listed in the main window, click the Add a printer or scanner option and wait while Windows tries to detect your printer — make sure it’s connected to your PC and switched on.

3. Check the printer is installed

Step 4: Tell Windows 10 to search for an older printer

If your printer is detected, just follow any on-screen instructions to install it — Windows will download and install any necessary drivers automatically. If it isn’t listed, click the The printer I that I want isn’t listed option.

You’ll then see five different options, four of which are four adding a printer that’s shared over a network. If you need to do this, we’ll assume you know how to continue from this point, since setting up network sharing in the first place is the trickiest part of this process.

So instead we’ll focus on adding a ‘local’ printer — one that’s directly connected to the computer you’re using. Select the first My printer is a little older. Help me find it. option and click Next. Windows 10 will search your PC again for connected printers and, hopefully, detect yours and install it.

4. Search for an older printer

Step 5: Install the printer manually

If you still have no success, you’ll need to install the printer manually and you’ll need the appropriate driver for this. Here are some links to driver download pages for most common makes of printer:

Printer drivers tend to be an .exe file. To install the driver, just download and run the file.

5.Install the printer manually

Step 6: Try the Windows 8 driver

Not all manufacturers will offer a Windows 10 driver for a particular printer, either because they don’t have one yet or because they’ve dropped support for it in this new version of Windows. In either case, try the Windows 8 driver instead — you should find it at the same links give in Step 5.

Step 7: Try the last resort — remove Windows 10

If you’ve reached this far and still don’t have a working printer, the chances are that your printer has reached the end of its useful life — with Windows 10, anyway. There’s not much you can do about this, other than contact the manufacturer to plead for a driver update and search user forums to see if anyone else has found a fix — use search terms like <printer model> windows 10 driver problem to find a solution.

7. Uninstall Windows 10

If you can’t upgrade your printer and you need to print something, however, your only immediate solution is to uninstall Windows 10 (if you can) and revert to whatever version you were using previously.

Having other problems with Windows 10?

If you are looking for a printer for your computer, decide first what type suits you best. BT Shop has a selection.

  • Inkjet printer:  Inkjets are fairly cheap and suitable for printing documents and photos. 
  • Laser printer: A good choice for a home office or small business, laser printers are a bit pricier and often bigger, but faster and work out cheaper than an inkjet over time.
  • Photo printer: If you are an avid photographer, a dedicated photo printer is worth considering. Many let you print directly from memory cards or wirelessly from a camera or phone over wi-fi.
  • All-in-one printer: A multifunction printer will scan (and sometimes fax), as well as printing. 

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Thanks to Acer for the loan of the Aspire SW3-013.


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