Advice Apple

How to Troubleshoot Intermittent Connection Problems With a Wifi Printer

beat that printerThis technique solved my print problems on the Brother HL-L2340DW laser printer. However, I’m confident these steps have a good shot at working for any printer, on any computer.

Step away from the baseball bat.

One of the most frustrating experiences you can have with your computer is trying to get it to print something. We’ve come so far since the days of the serial cable and yet, every so often, we get into a jam with a printer that makes us want to hurt cute things. The age of the Wifi (wireless) printer has brought a whole new level of frustration to the mix.

Some printers just act badly.

The Brother HL-L2340DW is so frustrating. I’m sure even the calmest of Zen masters could be thrown into such a state of apoplexy they’d have no problems taking this printer out, and beating it like a baby harp seal. (Note, I do not condone the beating of baby harp seals). Our hats off to the movie Office Space for this cathartic scene. I’ve come dangerously close to just tossing this printer off the roof of my house. It’s sad how often dealing with technology can become a death match. Conquer or be conquered.

The problems that you run into with Wifi printers are maddening because they are intermittent.

Some mornings you get the thing working great. An hour later, your computer suffers some sort of amnesia and it tells you that it can’t find the printer. So you reboot your computer. Nothing. You reboot the printer. Nothing. You reboot your wifi network. Still nothing! You go so far as to delete and reinstall the print drivers. Nada.  Zilch. Nein. Al ist kaput. Just when you’re ready to pull out Babe Ruth’s War Club, a new page prints. You’ve won? Not so fast. Printers are just like Vegas slots. They give you just enough to keep you playing. You’re such a sucker! It’s time to, in the words of the Pace Picante salsa commercial, “get a rope.”

The following are common errors you might encounter with your Wifi printer:

  • Printer not found (even though I printed to it 3 minutes ago?)
  • Connecting to printer (nothing happens)
  • Receiving data (nothing happens)

When my printer makes me question my sanity, that’s when things get ugly. Finally after hours (and I do mean hours) of trying to resolve the intermittent printing problems with my laser printer, I hit upon a solution.

This fix was tested on a Macbook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) running OS X El Capitan V. 10.11.3 printer-system-preferences

  1. Using System Preferences, delete the offending printer from your system.
  2. Assuming that you have your printer connected to your Wifi network (e.g., it has printed at least once before, using your Wifi) get the printer to print out its Printer Settings. You do this from the printer itself–not from your computer. This printout will show you the IP address the printer is using on your network. (It may look something like
  3. In System Preferences click Printers and Scanners. Then click the + symbol to add a new printer.
  4. Rather than selecting the printer by name (even if it appears) select IP at the top. Keep in mind, even if you don’t see the printer as an available option in the picker, you can still tell your computer about the printer using its IP address. add-ip-address
  5. Enter the IP address of your printer. The system will look for this printer. Once it has found it, you can click Add.
  6. When printing, you will need to select the printer that’s named by the IP address. Yes, yes this might look ugly in your printer picker. Personally, I’d rather have an ugly printer picker than pieces of petulant printer piled up on my lawn. (I dare you to try and say that 10x fast.)

That’s all you need to do. So far my printer has actually been working a little faster using this more direct IP technique than it did by choosing its name. If you are having the same sort of problems, drop us a line and let us know if you have come up with another fix. We’d love to hear from you.

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