Fix: Windows cannot connect to the printer

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • If Windows cannot connect to the printer, then it's usually a problem with the printer's drivers.
  • However, keep in mind that you can also make some preliminary checks to see if the printer is working properly.
  • It's also useful to verify the physical connections and the cables between all the components involved in the printing process. 

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If you recently upgraded your PC to Windows 10 or performed an update to the latest Windows 11 build, you might have encountered an error that says: Windows cannot connect to the printer.

There are tried and trusted solutions to fix the issue, and this article covers these fixes. Feel free to read and follow the steps exactly to resolve this pesky problem.

If your PC runs on Windows 10 S, some printers may not work well with it, or you may experience limited functionality with your printer.

This guide will also help if you encountered the Windows cannot connect to the printer 0x0000011b error or if you received the Operation failed with error 0x0000011b message.

However, before going into the main steps to fix this problem, we have a couple of troubleshooting steps to perform to ensure that the printer and other components are working.

What to do if I get Windows cannot connect to printer 0x0000011b error?

There are various printer errors on Windows, but most of them can be fixed by running a troubleshooter or by updating your driver.

Some errors, such as printer error 0x000003e3 might require you to adjust your configuration and make sure that your device is properly connected and configured.

If you’re unable to install the printer, then you might have a driver problem, but it’s also possible that your device is damaged in some way.

How to make sure that my printer is working?

A lot of issues regarding the connection to the printer come from simple problems like a cable not being plugged in completely or other basic settings.

Although for many of you they would seem obvious, it’s no harm in checking them out before getting into more complicated things.

Make sure that your printer is powered and turned on

Make sure the printer is turned on

Ensure that the printer’s power cable is plugged into an electrical outlet. Also, make sure that the printer is turned on from the power button. It should be a light or an indication on the screen.

Connect the data cable properly

Sometimes, the data cable between your printer and computer may not be completely plugged in so make sure it is by checking both its ends for proper connection.

You may also try another cable if you have any reason to believe that the current one might have suffered any damage.

For wireless printers, turn on the wireless option from your printer then run the wireless connectivity test from the menu option (if you have one).

Turn on all network components

If you’re on a shared printer or network, ensure that all the components needed are turned on as well.

For instance, if a printer is shared through a PC in the network, then that PC should be turned on. Also, the router that connects the computer must be functioning properly.

Reboot your computer

Restarting your PC may solve the problem

Although this is not directly related to solving the problem with your printer, a reboot may solve a lot of issues when it comes to Windows.

Just click the Start button, select the Power icon and choose Restart. Wait for the PC to reboot and see if there are any changes.

What can I do if the printer is not connecting to the PC?

  1. Check if your printer is an Unspecified device and update the drivers
  2. Uninstall and reinstall your printer
  3. Temporarily disable your antivirus security software
  4. Check Default printer settings
  5. Perform a Windows Update
  6. Clear spooler files and restart spooler service

1. Check if your printer is an Unspecified Device and update the drivers

1.1 Find out if your printer is listed as an Unspecified Device

  1. Click the Start button, type control and select Control Panel from the results.
  2. Choose Devices and Printers.
  3. Scroll down and see if your printer is under the Unspecified section.

If you see your printer in the Unspecified section, we recommend performing the next step.

1.2 Update drivers

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager from the list.
  2. Expand the Printers or Printer queues, find your printer in the list, then right click it and select Update driver. If you don’t find it in the mentioned sections, you can look also unde USB controllers or LPT on your PC.
  3. Now select Search automatically for drivers.
  4. If the system finds a new driver it will install it and you will have to restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

Driver software is needed for most printers to work properly. In the event you updated or upgraded to Windows 10, you may have to update your current printer driver.

Downloading and installing the driver manually is also an option to consider. Do this if Windows doesn’t automatically find a driver update for your printer, or you don’t have an installation disk.

You can check the manufacturer’s website, then find the latest driver for your printer. And if you have the installation disc, it may contain the software for installing a driver for your printer.

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Another method that you can use to update your drivers is by using a tool such as DriverFix. Install it and you’ll update all outdated drivers automatically with just a couple of clicks.

This method is perfect if you don’t want to search and download drivers manually, so be sure to try it out.

2. Uninstall and reinstall your printer

2.1 Uninstall the printer

  1. Select Start and click on Settings.
  2. Choose Devices.
  3. Click Printers & Scanners on the left pane.
  4. Find your printer and click on it, then select Remove device.

If you have problems with this step, we also have an article on what to do if you can’t remove the printer in Windows 10.

2.2 Reinstall the printer

  1. Click the Start button and select Settings.
  2. Choose Devices.
  3. Click Printers & Scanners on the left pane.
  4. Select Add a printer or scanner.
  5. If the system detects your printer, select it and go on with the installation. If not, you can click on The printer that I want isn’t listed.
  6. Now you have plenty of options for every situation, including a network or a Bluetooth printer. In our example, we chose Add a local printer because it’s the most common. Select the proper option for you and click Next.
  7. Next, select the port your printer is connected on from the drop-down menu and click Next. Nowadays, printers are usually connected to the USB port but it may be different in your situation. If you don’t know which one is, consult the printer documentation or contact the manufacturer for the information.
  8. Try to find the manufacturer and the model in the list. If there aren’t many to choose from, clicking on the Windows Update button will add a lot more, but the process takes a few minutes.
  9. You can also click on the Have Disk button if you have the software disk that came with the printer. After you select the printer, click Next.
  10. Select the printer name (it’s already there but you may change it) and click Next.
  11. The system will install the printer in a few seconds. You will be able to decide if you want to share the printer or not but in the end, click Next.
  12. In the last window, you can click the Print a test page button and then select Finish. Printing the page will tell you if the printer works so we recommend using it.

Note: You can print a test page to ensure the printer works correctly. If it is installed but doesn’t work, check the device’s manufacturer website for troubleshooting or driver updates.

To connect to a local printer, plug in the printer’s USB cable to an available USB port on your computer, then turn on the printer.

3. Temporarily disable your antivirus security software

  1. Click the Start button, type security and click on Windows Security from the results.
  2. Now select Virus and threat protection.
  3. Scroll down and click on Manage settings under Virus & threat protection settings.
  4. Turn off Real-time protection.

In this solution, we have explained how to turn off the basic protection from your system, Microsoft Windows Defender.

However, if you have a third-party antivirus installed, the Windows Defender protection is already bypassed and you will have to disable that antivirus instead.

Try looking for the disable feature in the main window of your antivirus or on its settings window. Don’t worry, all of them have an option to disable themselves.

Another option is to try uninstalling third-party software on your PC, such as computer cleaners or antivirus tools.

When it comes to protecting your PC – using an antivirus- temporarily disable it because you need it to prevent your computer from security threats.

Immediately after you’re done fixing the connection error, you can enable it back. However, if the antivirus is indeed causing this issue, perhaps this is a good moment to consider switching to a different one.

If you’re looking for a reliable antivirus that won’t interfere with your system in any way, try using Eset Internet Security.

4. Check Default printer settings

  1. Click Start and select Settings.
  2. Choose Devices.
  3. Click Printers & Scanners on the left pane.
  4. Scroll to Let Windows manage my default printer and uncheck the box.

If your printer keeps switching from the default one, you can change this setting on Windows 10, from the current printer to the one that you want to be using.

5. Perform a Windows Update

  1. Go to Start, type update and click on Check for updates from the results.
  2. Hit the Check for updates button from the right.
  3. If the system finds new updates, they will be downloaded and installed but make sure to restart your PC for the completion of the updates.

For a healthy computer, you need to keep updating Windows with the latest system updates, and drivers. This also helps resolve any issues or difficulties you may be experiencing.

If you have trouble updating your OS, we have an excellent guide that will explain what to do if the Windows Update is not working properly.

6. Clear spooler files and restart spooler service

6.1 Stop the Print Spooler service

  1. Click Start, type services and click on the app from the results.
  2. Under Services, double click Print Spooler.
  3. Select Stop then OK.

6.2 Delete the contents of the Spool folder and restart the Print Spooler service

  1. Press the Windows key + E to start File Manager, then go to the following path (you will need administrative privileges to access the folder): C:\\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS
  2. Delete all the folders in the folder if you find any. In our example, you can see that the folder is empty but in your case it might be different.
  3. Click the Start button, type services and select the Services app from the results.
  4. Under Services, double-click Print Spooler again.
  5. Click Start.
  6. Go to the Startup Type list and select the Automatic box.
  7. Click Apply then click OK.

We also have a useful article that will guide you on what to do if the Print Spooler keeps stopping on Windows 10.

How to access the printing preferences in Windows 10?

If the printer came with its own software for printing, scanning, and management, it’s all simple but if you don’t have it anymore, configuring the printer may be tricky.

You can go to the manufacturer’s support webpage, look for your printer and download the software if it’s available. If not, you can follow our little tip on changing the printing preferences.

  1. Click the Start button and select Settings.
  2. Select Printers and scanners from the left pane.
  3. Click on your printer and select Manage.
  4. Now choose the Printing preferences option.
  5. In the next window you will be able to tweak the settings as you like but keep in mind that it may look different for your printer model and manufacturer.

If none of our solutions worked, contact your printer’s manufacturer for more troubleshooting and support based on your specific issue.

Of course, it might also be helpful to try other cables for your printer, including the power, data, and network cables that may be connected to your printer.

From our experience, cables can be affected by wear and tear and may cause a lot of problems, including complete disconnection.

We hope that our solutions helped you solve this printer connection problem and now you’re able to continue your work without any issues.

Because the main problem when it comes to such an issue is a malfunctioning driver, we also recommend consulting our guide on how to remove a corrupted printer driver.

Share with us your experiences in the comments section below and write us any questions or suggestions you might have.

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