The error “Printer driver is unavailable” means that the driver installed against your printer is either not compatible or is outdated. It may also mean that the driver is corrupt and the computer fails to recognize it.
If the computer cannot recognize the driver or function with it, you will not be able to access your printer and use it to print jobs. This issue is very common in the printing world and can be fixed with a few tweaks here and there. Take a look at the solutions listed below.
1. Update Drivers using a Driver Utility
We highly recommend updating all your drivers using the DriverFix Utility which can be downloaded from here. This utility will scan your PC for all the outdated drivers and update them.
2. Uninstall the Printer Driver
There are mostly two main solutions which you can use to counter the error ‘Printer driver is unavailable’. Either you can uninstall the printer, all the related software and then install it in the system. Either this or you can go through all the drivers available and select the right one for your device.
We will uninstall the printer and all the related software and then try connecting it. This will, in turn, install the default drivers.
- Press Windows + R, type “control” in the dialogue box, and press Enter. Once in the control panel, make sure that the option View by: Large icons is selected. Now click Devices and Printers.
- Here all the printers will be listed. Right-click on the printer which is causing the problem and select “Remove device”.
- Now press Windows + R again and type “devmgmt.msc”. Navigate to the category “Print queues”, right-click your printer and select “Uninstall device”. This may not be present after you remove your printer from the control panel so nothing to worry about if you don’t have it.
- Now press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box, and press Enter. Here all the applications will be listed. Right-click on all your printer applications and select “Uninstall”.
- After performing all the above steps, disconnect your printer from your computer if it is connecting via a USB connection or disconnect it from the router if it is using wireless. Shut down your computer, printer, and your router. Plug out the power supply of all of them.
- After waiting for around 10 minutes, plug everything back in and start all the modules. Connect the printer with your computer using a USB cable initially. Wait for the detection and let it install the required drivers.
- Now navigate back to the control panel, right-click on the device and select “Set as default printer”. Now try printing a test page and check if the problem is solved.
3. Install the latest drivers manually
If the above solution doesn’t work, we will try updating the printer drivers manually. There are also some cases where the printer is working perfectly but due to a Windows update, it gets broken. The updated drivers from Windows might be problematic and may not work for all systems. This case was particularly noted with HP printers. One way to counter this issue is to update the selected driver manually by downloading it from the manufacturer’s website and then disabling Windows update from updating the driver.
Before you proceed, make sure that you navigate to the manufacturer’s website and download the specific drivers meant for your hardware to an accessible location.
- Press Windows + R to launch the Run Type “devmgmt.msc” in the dialogue box and hit Enter. This will launch your computer’s device manager.
- Navigate through all the hardware, open the sub-menu “Print queues”, right-click on your printer hardware, and select “Update driver”.
- Now Windows will pop a dialogue box asking you which way do you want to update your driver. Select the second option (Browse my computer for driver software) and proceed.
Select the driver file you downloaded using the browse button when it appears and update it accordingly.
Note: In some cases, the printer may not be visible in the device manager. In that situation, just run the installer and the driver will be installed automatically.
- Check if the printer is working properly at this point. If it is, navigate to the official Microsoft website and download the package “wushowhide.diagcab”.
- Run the package and click Next.
- Now click on Hide updates from the option given.
- After that select the printer update (if any) and continue. Now Windows update will not automatically update the drivers of the printer until you tell it to.
4. Install Generic Printer Driver
If none of the methods above worked for you, it’s possible that your Printer isn’t being detected by your computer or it is stuck as an Unknown device. In that case, you will have to manually Install default generic printer drivers for your Printer. Follow these steps:-
- Press and hold the Windows key then press X. Now select “Device Manager”.
- Once Device Manager is opened locate your Printer. If you can’t find it check in the category named “Unknown Devices”
- Right-click on your Printer and click “Update Driver”.
- Now click the “Browse my computer for drivers” option.
- Select “Let me pick from the list of available drivers…..” then select “Generic Software Device”.
- Now click “Next” then restart your computer.
Keep in mind that installing this driver might stop some functionality of your Printer but it will make it usable to say at least.