How to Bring an Offline Printer Online

If Windows can’t recognize your printer, that is most likely because it is unable to communicate with the device. This can be because of several reasons and the first step in finding the solution is pinpointing the problem. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to bring your printer back online.


Click the Start button in the bottom left corner of your screen, and then go to Devices and Printers. Find the icon of the offline printer, right click it, and click on See what’s printing. There should be a Printer link at the top of the window – click it, then click the Use Printer Offline and remove the check mark. Make sure your device is turned on and that the USB cable is properly connected. If you have a wireless printer, restart both the device and the computer because that will often re-establish the connection.

If you recently changed your router or the name of your wireless network, you should update the printer with the new network settings. You may have to connect the printer to the computer via the USB cable to make the necessary changes if your wireless printer doesn’t have a control panel which would allow you to make the necessary changes manually.

If the problem persists, try changing the port the printer is connected to. Go back to Devices and Printers, right click the printer, and then go to Printer Properties. Click Ports and choose the port from the list which will appear in the center of the window. Click Apply and OK.

If you still can’t print, we suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the printer. First remove the printer by right clicking the printer in Devices and Printers and clicking Remove device. Once the device has been uninstalled, reinstall your printer by following its installation guide. If all of the enumerated doesn’t help your problem, try removing all the current print jobs (if there any) by accessing the Print Spooler in the Services menu.

If you are using Windows Vista, you might have the known Vista SNMP issue – Sometimes a network printer will suddenly be marked as offline even if other computers on the same network can access it normally; sometimes you might save some IP address issues, but most often this is not the case. The problem lies in an unusual Vista function; Vista automatically enables SNMP support for all network printers. If there is no response to a SNMP message, Vista assumes the printer is offline. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) is a method for obtaining information from any network devices (printers, copiers, routers, servers, etc).

The problem is there are quite a lot of printers which don’t implement the SNMP, meaning they don’t respond to SNMP queries; Vista then wrongfully assumes these devices are offline. The solution is plain and simple – you just need to inform Vista to stop sending SNMP queries. Right click the printer in the Control Panel Printers window, go to Ports and then select Configure Port. There will be a checkbox at the bottom stating ‘SNMP Status Enable’. Uncheck it, and your device will be back as online.


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