How to Resolve ‘Printer Driver Unavailable’ Error on Windows?

The Printer driver is unavailable error indicates that the driver installed for your printer is incompatible, outdated, or corrupted, resulting in the computer’s inability to recognize it.

printer driver is unavailable
Printer Driver Unavailable Issue

When the computer can’t recognize or work with the printer’s driver, access to the printer is blocked, preventing you from printing. This common issue in the printing world can often be resolved with several adjustments. Explore the solutions below to address the problem.

1. Run the Printer Troubleshooter

Windows includes a variety of troubleshooters designed to quickly diagnose and automatically resolve various computer problems. Running the printer troubleshooter may help fix the driver unavailable problem.

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.
  2. Select “Additional troubleshooters” and then choose “Printer“.
  3. Click “Run the troubleshooter” and follow the prompts.

2. Ensure the Print Spooler Service Is Running

The Print Spooler service must be running for your printer to work correctly. Restarting this service can sometimes resolve printer driver issues.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “services.msc”, and press Enter.
  2. Scroll down to “Print Spooler”, right-click it, and select “Restart”. If the service isn’t running, select “Start”.

3. Verify the Correct Printer Is Set as Default

If you have multiple printers installed, the wrong one might be set as default, causing software to send print jobs to the wrong printer.

  1. Go to the Control Panel\Hardware and Sound and navigate to “Devices and Printers”.
  2. Right-click on the correct printer and choose “Set as default printer”.

4. Download Drivers from the Manufacturer’s Website

Downloading the latest drivers and software from your printer manufacturer’s official website can assure compatibility.

  1. Go to your printer manufacturer’s official website.
  2. Find the ‘Support’ or ‘Downloads’ section.
  3. Search for your printer model or use the site’s navigation tools to locate the right drivers for your printer model and operating system.
  4. Download the latest compatible driver for your printer.
  5. Execute the downloaded installer and follow the prompts to finish the driver setup.

By using drivers directly from the manufacturer, you avoid compatibility issues that may arise from using incorrect drivers.

If you can’t locate the correct driver on the manufacturer’s site, consider using a driver updater tool for automatic updates. Here are the 5 best driver updater programs for Windows.

5. Uninstall the Printer Driver

To resolve the ‘Printer driver is unavailable’ error, either uninstall and reinstall the printer and all related software, or sift through available drivers to select the correct one for your device.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “control” into the dialogue box, and press Enter. Ensure the control panel is set to View by: Large icons and click Devices and Printers.

  1. Right-click the problematic printer and select “Remove device“.

  1. Open the Run dialogue box again with Windows + R, type “devmgmt.msc“, and navigate to “Print queues“. Right-click your printer and choose “Uninstall device“. Note that this option may not be visible after removing your printer from the control panel – no cause for alarm.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” into the dialogue box, and press Enter. Uninstall all programs related to your printer.
  2. Disconnect your printer from your computer or your router, shut down your computer, printer, and router, and unplug their power sources.
  3. After approximately 10 minutes, reconnect everything and power on all devices. Initially, connect the printer to your computer via USB and let it install the necessary drivers.

  1. In the control panel, right-click on the printer and choose “Set as default printer“. Test the printer to see if the issue is resolved.

6. Install the Latest Drivers Manually

If reinstalling the printer doesn’t work, updating the drivers manually may be necessary. Sometimes, a Windows update can disrupt printer functionality, as has been observed with HP printers. To prevent this, download the specific drivers for your hardware from the manufacturer’s website, and then disable automatic driver updates by Windows.

  1. Press Windows + R and type “devmgmt.msc” to open Device Manager.
  2. Navigate to “Print queues“, right-click your printer, and select “Update driver“.

  1. When asked how you want to update your driver, choose “Browse my computer for driver software” and proceed.

Use the browse button to select the downloaded driver file and update accordingly.

Note: If the printer isn’t shown in Device Manager, simply run the downloaded driver installer for automatic installation.

  1. After ensuring the printer works, download “wushowhide.diagcab” from the official Microsoft website.

  1. Execute the package and select Next.
  2. Select Hide updates.

  1. Pick any printer updates shown and proceed. Windows Update will not automatically update your printer’s drivers unless you choose to do so.

7. Install Generic Printer Driver

If the previous methods fail and your printer is not detected by your computer or appears as an “Unknown device”, you may need to install default generic printer drivers manually.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key, then press X. Select “Device Manager”.
  2. In Device Manager, locate your printer. If you cannot find it, check under the category “Unknown Devices”

    Locating your Printer
  3. Right-click on your Printer and select “Update Driver“.
  4. Choose the “Browse my computer for drivers” option.
    Installing Default Driver
  5. Select “Let me pick from a list of available drivers….” then choose “Generic Software Device“.
  6. Click “Next” and restart your computer. Note that this driver may limit some functionalities of your printer, but it will at least make it operational.
    Installing Generic Driver

8. Contact Manufacturer Support

If all else fails, reaching out to the printer manufacturer’s support team can provide you with further help and potentially more advanced solutions that are specific to your printer model.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.