Printers not behaving? Reset them and start from scratch

PrinterIconXWhile printing has somewhat taken a back seat to the use of PDFs and other electronic forms of communication, there are still plenty of times when printers are regularly used; however, along with this there may be times when your printers will not behave correctly and refuse to print. Sometimes you might get an error specifying a problem with your printer setup, but at other times the print job may sit in your print queue and not move.

If this happens to you, then there are several approaches you can take to troubleshoot your printer setup, including removing and re-adding your printers, and delving into configuration files on your Mac; however, unless you have specific need to preserve your exact printing setup, then these approaches are often far more effort than they are worth.

This is especially true given that printers are generally relatively simple devices that take little (if any) configuration to set up, and even more so if your printer is plug-and-play, requiring no additional drivers or software from your printer manufacturer.

Because of this, a far quicker approach for managing printer problems is to reset the print system on your Mac, and then optionally reset the printer. Doing this will, in essence, set your printer configuration to factory-defaults, which is a good starting point for getting your printers working again. It is also perhaps one of the easiest troubleshooting steps to take in OS X, even though a full “reset” sounds like something that should be a last-resort approach:

  1. Go to the Printers & Scanners system preferences (perhaps called Print & Scan, or Print & Fax).
  2. Click the lock to authenticate.
  3. Right-click (or control-click) the list of printers along the left-hand side.
  4. Choose the Reset Print System option that shows (it will be the only one in the contextual menu).
  5. Confirm you wish to reset your print system
Reset print system in OS X

Once authenticated, right-click the printer list to access the option for resetting the print system.

The next step would be to consult your printer’s manual to fully reset it, if you suspect the printer’s settings might be cause for the problem at hand. This usually requires you hold a combination of its buttons in a specific sequence, or press a little hidden button on the device somewhere.

After doing this, you can re-attach your printers and scanners, or use the plus button at the bottom of the printer list to add them back. If your printers required you run special setup utilities from your printer’s manufacturer, then download the latest setup utility or driver package from the manufacturer’s Web site and run them to add your printers back.

9 thoughts on “Printers not behaving? Reset them and start from scratch

  1. Rick Auricchio

    Whenever a client has a printing problem, my first advice is to turn off the printer, then unplug its power cord. Power it back up and try. Many modern printers don’t turn off 100% from the switch.

  2. Charlie

    As an owner of the same Brother HL-2270DW I was particularly interested in this article. I’ve yet to successfully get my printer to work wirelessly but that’s another story.

    With Mavericks 10.9.5 I did not see a lock icon in Printers and Scanners to authenticate but was able to do the reset.

    Having followed your reset suggestions I have a question: do I still need to reinstall the already existing and current Brother software (CUPS driver, Wireless Setup Wizard and Firmware Update Tool)? They’re still to be found in a Brother Utilities folder in Applications.

    1. Strod

      In my opinion:
      Firmware Update Tool, probably not, because if you already updated the firmware of your printer there is absolutely no reason it would revert back when resetting something on your Mac.
      Wireless Setup Wizard…. you do say that you haven’t been able to get the printer to work wirelessly. Now that you reset the printing system on your Mac, it’s worth trying it again.
      Regarding the CUPS driver, I’m not sure. I don’t see why reseting the print system would uninstall that particular driver. And it is possible that a system update installed a version even newer than the one that came with the printer. On the other hand, I guess that the installer you have would only replace the driver if it’s newer than the one already installed. I think your best bet is to download the latest driver directly from the manufacturer:

  3. Tony Brown

    A lot of photographers who use the Epson Stylus Pro R3880 printer have had trouble with Yosemite, mostly lack of control of the size of print image. New printer drivers did not help much. Disabling the check paper size at the printer did help.

  4. forkboy1965

    Personally I found Mavericks to have more issues with my USB-attached HP printer than I did with any other previous OS (going back to Leopard). Then again, I didn’t have any issues with those OSs.

  5. BJ

    Thanks a million trillion! This solved the problem – after a couple of hours of intensely trying to get somewhere and not getting anywhere with an Epson printer following an upgrade to El Capitan. Bless you!

  6. Cam Miller

    I used my Epson R3380 printer on a PC for years, and I have just switched to a new iMac. Following some of the suggestions above, I was finally able to get the printer to recognize Fine Art paper, but now it won’t switch to Matte Black ink. The printer used to automatically switch inks when I selected Velvet Fine Art. The Matte Black choice is even grayed out. I have disconnected the power source, reset the print system, upgraded the drivers, disabled the check paper size, and everything else you have suggested. My printer is connected via USB. Is there something else I can try?

  7. Rhonda

    It’s been a while since I’ve found a blog site worthwhile to be called an expert blog.
    I am actually pleased on your style of composing and also every words that you have composed are very simple to comprehend and really helpful.
    I hope you would continue discussing your understanding and also
    concepts to make sure that site visitors like us
    will certainly learn more regarding this topic. Once more
    I will visit your blog a lot more usually and ideally you can also inspect my
    blog site and allow me recognize exactly what more could I
    do to improve it.

  8. Candy

    I am trying to find a site orr blog that has posts about Bereavejent leave
    in the Philippine and discovered your site on Google. I should say, I amm imprdssed
    on yyour compising skills and the information that yoou share
    is reaally valuable and can not be found anywhere. Maintain the great and I will get back to
    your site more often and will likewise share it to my pals.

Comments are closed.