Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to print a document you need. Nothing happens when you choose File > Printer. Or worse, macOS appears to be printing. You focus on something else, only for 20 minutes later, it is gone. What now? These are some troubleshooting tips.

The Printer's Print Queue App is available

The printer's Print Queue app is displayed in your Dock when you print. It is named after the printer. If it does not, go to System Preferences > Printers & scanners, choose the printer you want, and then click Open Print Queue.

The status of the printer as well as the print job can be viewed in the Print Queue App. First, check that the app is able to print to multiple printers. You can cancel the job by clicking on the X button to the right. Then, close the Print Queue app and print again.

You may also see the Print Queue app display an error message. This will tell you what is wrong. Old print jobs may be stuck in the queue and are blocking the current job. Click the X next their names to delete them.

Click the green Resume button if the printer has been halted due to an issue. If the printer is unable to continue because of a paper jam, low supplies, or other reasons, click the green Resume button.

Make sure to check the printer and its connection

Although error messages might have indicated a problem with the printer, they are not always helpful. Check the following:

  • Is the printer on? Doh! Turn it on if necessary. You can also try turning it off and then back on. This will resolve a surprising amount of printing issues.
  • Is the printer connected to the internet? The printer should be connected to your computer via USB, Wi-Fi, or Ethernet. Make sure that the cables are properly plugged in. If communication problems persist, you can try restarting the router.
  • Does the printer contain paper? No paper, no printout.
  •  Is there paper jam? Paper jams are a common topic of discussion for printers. It is best to clear it first before you try again.
  •  Are there empty ink and toner cartridges? Printers have a reputation for refusing print if one or more ink cartridges are empty. Even if the ink cartridges are empty and you print only in black, this can happen.

You can print a test page from your printer to check the printer. For instructions, refer to the manual. If this fails, your printer might need to be serviced.

Check your Mac's Printing Settings

Your Mac's printing subsystem is the final place you should look for solutions to the printer is not responding mac. These problems can be specific to your app or your document, or they could be related to the printer driver.

To test it, open your document in Preview and choose PDF > Open In Preview.

If this works, then you already know that your Mac can print. The problem is either with the document or the application. You can print another document using the app to isolate the issue. If it prints, you will know that the problem is with your document. However, since you have a PDF of that document to print, your immediate problem might be solved. You'll need to fix the problem if it is the app. Most of the time, however, the problem is with the printer driver.

Driver updates are not very common outside of macOS updates. However, System Preferences > Software update can be checked to confirm. For updates, you can also visit the printer manufacturer's website. Search Google for "printerNameAndModel Mac drivers" to see what's new. This is what you will see when you choose the printer from System Preferences > Printers & Scans and click on the Options & Supplies link. Download and install the latest version if it's available.

If the new version is not working, you can delete the printer from Printers & Scanners. Then, re-add it. To delete the printer, select it from the list. Click the - button at its bottom. Click the + button to add it again.

No luck? You can delete the driver and add it again. However, you will need to choose another option from the Use popup menu. To ensure that you are using the manufacturer's drivers, start with the name of your printer and not Secure AirPrint. If this doesn't work, you can try Generic PostScript Printer and Generic PCL Printer again. However, they may not offer full functionality beyond basic printing. If your printer supports it, you can install an independent driver from Gutenprint.

One tip: Avoid using the Printer Sharing feature, which has been part of macOS for many years. Although it works, it is necessary that the Mac responsible for sharing the printer be on when the user wants to print.

Go nuclear if you are still stuck. You can go back to Printers & Scanners preferences and Control-click any printer. Then, choose Reset Printing Systems. The warning dialog will inform you that this will erase all existing printers, scanners and faxes as well as any pending print jobs. This will reset your printing system to factory defaults. After that, you will need to add printers again.

These solutions almost always solve the problem.