How to Reset the Printing System in Mac OS X to Fix Annoying Printer Problems

Jan 9, 2015 - 13 Comments

A Mac Printer

Need to reset the entire printing system on a Mac? You can do that if you need to. Printer problems are notoriously frustrating for any computer user, and while Macs get off a bit easier than the alternatives out there, there can still be some pretty annoying issues that pop up with printing in Mac OS X due to flakey third party printing support, bad software, or just a low-grade printer. Whether it’s a broken print queue with a hundred pending jobs that remain unprinted, or a printer outright not responding regardless of how many jobs you send to it, sometimes the best thing to do is just start over from scratch and reset the entire Mac printing system in Mac OS X.

This article will show you how to reset the printing system on a Mac, which can be a helpful troubleshooting trick for some printer issues.

Resetting the printing system in Mac OS X will remove all printers, scanners, and faxes from the Mac, and also wipe out the entire pending jobs lineup for all printers. Yes, that means you will need to re-add printers and restart your print jobs after completing this process. Because this is kind of the nuclear option, this should only be used as a last resort if all other printing troubleshooting tricks have failed you, and the Mac and Printer are continuing to have a bad relationship.

How to Completely Reset the Printer System in Mac OS X and Remove All Printers & Jobs

This works the same in all versions of Mac OS X, be it Catalina, Mojave, Sierra, El Capitan, Mavericks, Yosemite, Snow Leopard, etc

  1. From the  Apple menu choose “System Preferences” and select the Printers preference panel
  2. Control+Click in the left side printer list (or optionally, right-click on a specific printer if one is shown) and select “Reset Print System…”
  3. Reset the printing system in Mac OS X

  4. Enter the admin password when requested and confirm that you want to wipe out all printers, scanners, and faxes, and all of their queued jobs
  5. Reset the printing system in OS X and remove all printers and their jobs

  6. When the printer system reset has finished, go ahead and re-add the printer as usual by clicking the [+] button

And yes, if it wasn’t abundantly clear already, this not only resets and removes all printers, but it will also reset and remove all scanners and faxes (LOL, faxing) from the Mac as well, meaning those would also need to be re-added manually.

This is also a way to forcibly remove items from the printer queue if you can’t clear them manually for whatever reason through Printer preference panel. An unresponsive printer queue can happen sometimes if someone has attempted to print from the desktop or elsewhere a million times repeatedly, without having the patience for a printer queue to clear out, and sometimes it can happen out of the blue in normal operation too. Typically in the latter situation, it’s the result of poor third party printer support, and updating printer software from a manufacturer can resolve those types of issues.

Try this out the next time you have printing problems and you have exhausted all other options to remedy the situation in Mac OS X.

Do keep in mind that if you reset the printer system on a Mac and you’re in a large enterprise environment, you may need to require system administrator privileges from an IT department to both reset the printer management in Mac OS X as well as re-adding the printers themselves.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Darlene says:

    I ‘ve tried the fix for my canon printer, however, it did not work for me. Shall I reverse back to Catalina?

  2. Carlton Yee says:

    Yes, it worked. I was having problems printing from my wife’s Mac by WiFi. It would work for a few days and then stop printing. Your fix worked. Mucho gracias.

  3. Gemmel says:

    I tried to print a mail and the print pop up window came up but I can neither print or cancel and therefore cannot rid the screen of the pop up window.

    • JR sKotzy says:

      Click on “Cancel” button to close the Print dialog window, or try pressing Command + Period which sometimes cancels too

  4. Shan says:

    Yayyyyy it worked thanks so much

  5. Jacob Richardson says:


    I have just tried to install my Dell C1765nfu color laser printer on a mac.

    It has printed once – a one page test document; but since then it refuses to print at all. When looking at the print queue, it shows as ‘stopped’.

    I have tried removing the printer, reinstalling via usb, reinstalling via ip, restarting the mac, but I am now getting the same error every time.

    Any help would be appreciated – I am trying to print my masters degree dissertation, and cant work out why it refuses to print.


  6. DEVON DREW says:

    I want to copy and paste a grid lined document in my computer to a new A4 sheet in my inbox.

    Upon doing this the gridlines are lost and only the typed information is displayed.

    Can you explain how I achieve this.

    Many thanks

  7. John says:

    How does one turn OFF two-sided printing as a default? I waste thirteen pages every decade; it’s more of a headache than anything else. Thanks.

    • Joan Burritt says:

      Go to layout and turn two-sided printing off, then do not leave printer until you make that setting your default setting. I had the same problem–took me a while to realize I wasn’t setting “off” as default and it kept cranking out the two sided pages until I got smalrt!

  8. terry says:

    I did the reset. Error message still says ‘printer in use’ but nothing is printing.

  9. joz says:

    I cannot figure out how to disable the Auto-Rotate / Scale feature in Yosemite when printing a PDF in Preview.

    It keeps scaling to Fit To Page.

    Anyone have a solution?

  10. Michael says:

    thank you

  11. Nouh ayach says:

    Thank you .but I need driver for canon for Mac book air please thanks in advance

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