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 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 OS X.
Resetting the printing system in 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.
Completely Reset the Printer System in OS X and Remove All Printers & Jobs
This works the same in all versions of OS X, be it Mavericks, Yosemite, Snow Leopard, etc
- From the Apple menu choose “System Preferences” and select the Printers preference panel
- 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…”
- 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
- 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 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 OS X as well as re-adding the printers themselves.