There are quite a few quick fixes you can use when your printer driver is unavailable on Windows devices. But, you may have to try a few different ones before one works. Here’s a quick overview of what you can try:
- Update Windows
- Automatically update the drivers
- Manually Update drivers
- Delete and reinstall existing drivers
- Use Windows generic drivers
- Repair your printer or buy a new one
If you’d like a detailed guide on how to perform any of these fixes, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn more.
What Is a Printer Driver?
A printer driver is a software that can translate the data from a computer’s print request into the language the printer understands. The drivers allow different specialized features like paper size and binding options to be available on the printer. Usually, the printer drivers are specially created by the manufacturer of the specific printer and cannot be switched between the different brands.
Because of this, it’s crucial to use the right driver. However, Microsoft allows you to install a generic printer driver and use the printer without installing the specialized drivers. This may work most of the time, but you may run into errors, such as the one we’re tackling today.
Why Is My Printer Driver Unavailable?
You may get the driver is unavailable printer error for several reasons. Here are some reasons for this:
- The printer driver is incompatible with your system.
- Your printer driver is out of date.
- The operating system requires an update.
- There is a bug in the driver or the operating system.
- The driver was corrupted due to an update or the uninstallation of other software.
- The drivers weren’t installed correctly, or some driver components were missing.
Thankfully, none of the causes of the “printer driver is unavailable” errors are hard to troubleshoot. Driver issues don’t require you to be near the printer as they usually originate in the operating system of your computer.
How to Fix Driver Is Unavailable on Windows
There are several ways to fix a printer with the driver is unavailable error on Windows 10 and 11. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Update Your Windows
One of the reasons why you may get the printer driver is not available error is that the operating system is outdated or a new update is available that may fix any driver issues. You should look for updates and apply them as soon as possible, as they will fix the problem immediately while also fixing any issues you may be unaware of.
Here is how to update your Windows:
- Tap your keyboard’s Windows button or click the taskbar’s start icon.
- Search for “Settings” in the Start window and open them.
- Scroll down and click on the Windows Update option in the sidebar, which will open the options in the main settings screen.
- Click the Check for updates button towards the top right of the window. Windows will automatically check and see if any updates are available for your system.
- After installing updates, restart your computer and check if the error is fixed.
HP printers are some of the most commonly used printers. If your HP printer isn’t printing, you can find out how to fix an HP printer not printing from our linked guide.
Update the Printer Drivers Automatically
Your drivers need to be frequently updated as well. If the printer driver is unavailable, you may want to update it. You may also be facing the issue due to an outdated driver. Your driver can also become faulty over time. Updating the driver is simple and requires following a few simple steps. However, if you don’t know the names of the devices, then this can become a bit confusing.
Here is how to update drivers from the device manager:
- Open the start menu using the Windows key or the start button on the taskbar. You can also open the quick bar using the Windows + X keyboard shortcut. Here, search for Device Manager and click to open it.
- Look for the printer you wish to update the drivers for. You may find this under the Print Queues option. If the driver isn’t correctly installed, then you may find the printer under Other Devices.
- Once you have found the device, right-click on it and click the Update Driver option.
- Here, click the Search automatically for drivers option.
Windows will find and install any driver updates automatically. If a driver update is installed, restart your computer to ensure the drivers start fresh.
Update the Printer Drivers Manually
The automatic update method doesn’t always work. If the previous method fails to fix the printer driver is unavailable error, you can try to update the drivers manually. In order to do this, you should know the model number and the brand of your printer. You can find the model number from the printers box, and sometimes it is written on the printer itself. However, you can also find the model name from the control panel.
Here is how to do this:
- Open the Start menu, search for “Control panel” and click on it.
- In the control panel window, clock on the Hardware and Sound option and then click on Devices and Printers.
- Here, note down the manufacturer and the version.
- Now, head over to the printer manufacturer’s support page and find the driver for your printer.
- Download the right driver onto your PC and run the installer. Make sure you run it as an administrator.
Related: Connected Without Internet? Here’s 15 Fixes
Delete and Reinstall Printer Drivers
If none of the steps mentioned above work, you can delete the drivers and reinstall them. You may also have to physically unplug the printer and reconnect it. This may take some time to set up correctly, but this fix should work as it reinstalls and resets the drivers.
Here is how to reinstall the printer:
- Click on the Windows button on your keyboard or the start icon on the taskbar.
- In the Start window, search for “Control Panel” and open it. You can also click on the Category button to set the view mode.
- Under the Hardware and Sound section, click the View Devices and Printers button.
- Right-click on the printer causing issues and click on the Remove Device button. A confirmation window will show up. Simply click on Yes, and the printer will be removed.
- Now, open the start menu and search for Device Manager. Here, try to locate the printer. The printer may not show up, meaning that the drivers have already been removed when the printer was removed.
- If you locate the printer, right-click on it and click the Uninstall Device button.
- Some manufacturers install custom software alongside the printer’s drivers. To remove them, go to the Control panel again and click Uninstall a program. If you find any printer-related software, right-click on it and click Uninstall.
- With the printer removed, disconnect the printer from your computer by unplugging any connected wires.
- Restart your computer, wait a few minutes, and reconnect the printer to your computer. Your Windows PC will detect the printer and install the drivers automatically.
Use Generic Drivers
If nothing else seems to work, then there might be an issue with your printer, causing it to malfunction. You can use Microsoft’s generic printer drivers, which can be used to print papers and provide other basic printer functionality.
Here is how to fix the adding printer driver that is unavailable by using generic drivers:
- Open the start menu using the Windows key or the start button on the taskbar and search for Device Manager.
- Here, expand the Print queues option.
- Right-click on the printer and click on the Update driver option.
- Here, click on the Browse my computer for drivers option.
- In the next window, click on the Let me pick from a list of available drivers on my computer option.
- Select the Generic software device button and click on Next.
- Restart your computer to apply the changes after the driver is updated.
Buy A New Printer
Unfortunately, sometimes it is actually hardware that causes this error, in which case you may have to repair or upgrade your printer.
If you’re looking to buy a printer, you might feel overwhelmed by the many options available. Here are the top 5 best printers for home or office use in 2023.
If nothing else seems to work, you can use your phone to print documents and images. You can find more about how to print from iPhone in the linked article.
Looking for a great high-quality printer? We highly recommend checking out Epson’s extensive line of printers, ranging from compact and efficient home printers to large multifunction printers for your business.
So, the above are the easiest fixes for when your printer driver is unavailable. Hopefully, one of the free options solved the issue for you. Let us know in the comments which one worked for you.
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Chris is a spreadsheet expert and content writer for Productivity Spot and Spreadsheet Point. He has a double Bachelor's Degree in Teaching and has been working in the education industry for over 11 years. His experience makes him adept at breaking down complex topics so that everyone is able to understand.