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Fixes for Windows 7: Printer Will not Work

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 6/1/2011

If your Windows 7 Printer will not work, this article discusses some possible tips and workarounds to make it work on both standalone computers and Windows 7 networks.

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    Windows 7 Printer Will Not Work - Common Reasons and Fixes

    Windows 7 printers will not work if you are trying to use incompatible device drivers. The problem where Windows 7 printers will not work is fixed when you download and install the latest device drivers for the printer attached to the computer running the latest operating system from Microsoft.

    Among other problems is that the printer is not detected when you attach it to a Windows 7 computer via USB. In this case, Windows 7 is not able to find the printer or even if it does, it cannot find a matching device driver in its database. If the computer is connected to Internet, the operating system will try to access the database of Windows Update and search for a compatible driver. While this fixes some issues, in other cases you have to personally search for a compatible driver.

    To search, download, and install the latest device drivers for your printer, log on to the website of the printer manufacturer and check out for the latest device drivers compatible with Windows 7. Download the software pack and install it manually by double clicking on the device driver installer you downloaded and following the instructions on-screen. You can open Devices and Printers from Control Panel to check out and change the default settings of the printer. Please read our article on Where to Find Printer Drivers for Windows 7 so that your task of getting the latest device drivers becomes easier.

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    Printing Through the LPT Ports When Windows 7 Printer Will Not Work

    Although not officially endorsed, the following is a Microsoft workaround that helps many. Most of the users expect Windows 7 to find and install drivers as soon as they plug in their printers into the USB port. However, not all printer vendors have found their way into the printer driver database of Windows 7. Even if the big names like HP got in, not all their models are listed in the default Windows 7 device driver database.

    The workaround is to forget the USB method and use a LPT port. Most of the printers (both old and new) come packed with a cable that enables you to connect your printer to a LPT port (you may need to use COM ports if you are using a notebook). If the vendors' casing does not offer you a LPT cable, you can always purchase one at your nearest computer supply shop. Connect the printer to the Windows 7 computer using this parallel printer cable. Insert the printer installation CD into the CD/DVD drive to install the printer. This workaround helps you get started with your printer. Try to print and see if it works.

    Windows 7 Printer Will Not Work - Using Device Manager to Update Software If the printer is still creating problems, open the Device Manager and locate the printer. Connect to the Internet, right click on the printer and select update driver (see image). This will cause Windows to go online and search for the best compatible driver that works with your printer. If this too fails, use the method explained in the first section to personally visit the printer vendor's website and download the latest driver. If this does not help as well, contact your printer vendor to see if a technical support executive can give you information about the FTP site where you can locate the latest printer drivers.

    Using the LPT port instead of USB and installing the driver using the installation disk works in most cases so you need not upgrade the drivers for Windows 7.

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    Problems with Wireless Connections - Windows 7 Printer Will Not Work

    In some cases, a Windows 7 printer will not work if you are using a wireless connection such as Bluetooth. The problem can be with the printer device driver or with the Bluetooth. To isolate the problem, turn off the Bluetooth and connect the printer directly to the computer. See if it is printing. If yes, the problem is with the wireless connectivity.

    If the printer does not work even if you connect it directly to the Windows 7 computer, the problem might again be with the device drivers. Open the Device Manager (Windows Key + Break) and see if the printer is listed there. If yes, connect to the Internet and try upgrading the device driver as explained in the previous section. If Windows fails to get the software using the default search method, you may use the method where you personally logon to the printer vendor website and locate the most recent device drivers for your printer. Check out our article on Where to Find Lexmark Printer Drivers for Windows 7 for an idea on what to do if you find the fault to be with the printer instead of wireless connectivity.

    In case the printer works fine when connected directly, your wireless connection settings may be wrong if the printer is not printing when connected via Bluetooth. Please see our article on Solving Bluetooth problems on Windows 7 for more details. Once the problem is solved, you can easily use the printer on Windows 7.

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    What to Do When Network Printers on Windows 7 Will Not Work

    The reasons are almost the same - missing or incompatible device drivers. You can check and download the latest device drivers to fix the issue. If you did that and still the remote printer is not printing, the problem can be elsewhere. To check if the printer is working, you can print a test page from the computer to which it is directly attached. If it prints properly but you cannot access it from other computers, check out the following:

    • If the network is a homogeneous network - meaning all the computers in the network are running Windows 7, you can create a Windows 7 Home-Group. This makes it easy for you to access the printer from any of the computer and use it without any problems.
    • If the network contains computers running Windows XP or Vista as well, you might want to use the TCP/IP port instead of the regular port. For details on how to troubleshoot printers on a Windows 7 network, please read our article, What to Do When You Cannot Install a Network Printer on Windows 7.

    Overall, you must have noticed that if Windows 7 printer will not print, it is most likely to be the case of missing or incompatible device drivers. Most vendors have yet to come out with drivers compatible with Windows 7 for older models. The article covered some workarounds so that you can use your printers. If you have any tips or tricks that worked, please share them with us so that they benefit others as well.

Windows 7 - Problems, Tips, and Tricks

Windows 7 is one of the best and wonderful operating systems released by Microsoft. This series on Windows 7 offers you some insights into the OS and helps you with tips and tricks to overcome Windows 7 problems, including network printing and changing background in the Starter Edition.
  1. What To Do If Unable To Change Desktop Background in Windows 7
  2. Solving Windows 7 Installation Problems
  3. Solving Windows 7 Activation Problems
  4. Fixes for Windows 7: Printer Will not Work
  5. What to Do When You Cannot Install a Network Printer on Windows 7