OS X: Resetting the Printing System

| TMO Quick Tip

If you're having printing issues, there are lots of troubleshooting steps to try. You should check the printer's network connection and perhaps search for any new drivers your model has available. Another good idea is turning the device off and on again to see if the problem's just an intermittent one. You could even delete the printer from System Preferences > Print & Scan and reconfigure it if things still aren't hunky-dory.

There is, however, a nuke-it-from-orbit troubleshooting step that you can attempt if nothing else seems to work—resetting your entire printing system. This can be especially helpful if you're pretty certain that your Mac's the problem, not the printer (if your other computers can print just fine, say). You'll want to use this only as a last resort, though, because you'll have to set up all of your Print & Scan devices again.

Here's how you do it. Open System Preferences > Print & Scan, then right- or Control- click on the white box on the left of the Print tab (where your devices are listed). When you do, you'll get a hidden contextual menu.

Choose Reset printing system, and your Mac will warn the heck out of you.

Click OK, and then wait for your Mac to complete the task (which can take a little while). After it's finished, select the plus button on the Print & Scan window to walk through adding your devices back in.

I've found this troubleshooting step to be helpful when nothing else has worked, and even though it's a bit of a chore to have to reconfigure your printers, it's better than not being able to print! Unless not being able to print gets you out of work. In that case, forget I said anything.

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Wally Cherwinski

Outstanding. You just solved one of my most annoying problems.

Melissa Holt

I’m very happy to hear that, Wally!


Paul Goodwin

I’ll remember this. Thanks

Melissa Holt

Thanks for reading, Paul!

Art Mickel

We’ve had an on-going printing problem on my wife’s iMac. the printer is an HP and we obtained the latest drivers, but the printer window says “Printer is offline.”

I upgraded her machine to Lion (my MacBook had the same problem but it was cured by moving up to Lion), no joy!
I tried your solution (actually, this is the second time, got it off the Apple website). This time I managed to find a HP driver and typed in the proper name of the printer…after twelve hours it was still loading.

I’ve been unable to find any forums or discussion groups who have any idea of what to do.

Apple Genus Bar recommended I backup, reformate the HD and reinstate. I tried that three times, the first two backup would only let me reinstall the whole works (so the problem remained). 3rd time it refused to install Snow Leopard (tried that twice too).

Needless to say, this is driving both of us to distraction. Help, please.

Melissa Holt

Hey Art,

Is this a wireless printer? Are you sure that the printer is on the same network as your wife’s iMac? That’d be my first question. If you can print out a network configuration page from the printer (accessible through the menus on the front of the device) and then verify that your wife’s Mac is on the same wireless network, I think that’d be a start. I’ve seen lots of cases in which a computer has auto-joined a neighbor’s open network, for example, so it’s no longer able to “see” its household printers.

If that’s not the problem (or if you just don’t want to deal with it yourself), I’d go and enter your zip code into the Apple Consultants locator (consultants.apple.com). That’ll let you contact someone who’s certified by Apple to fix problems such as yours. At this point, it sounds like you’ve invested so much time that it might be worth paying someone to come out and troubleshoot for you. After all, it’s really hard for someone like a Genius to figure out printing problems without actually being able to see the printer in question, know what I mean?

Anyway, I hope that’s helpful to you.

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