In order to print something, a computer has to send files to a printer. Without having the ability to communicate directly with a printer, computers can't send documents to be printed. This makes perfect sense, but it works both ways. To function properly, printers have to be able to send data to computers too. Without having the ability to do so, printers can't tell computers about the statuses of print jobs, ink and toner levels and other critical information. In other words, everyday users like you are left in the dark. The concept of printers communicating with computers and vice versa is known as bidirectional support. Learn more about it below.
The Trouble with Losing Bidirectional Support
When bidirectional support is lost, it's no longer possible to check the status of a print job or to check ink and toner levels. There's no way to tell if something is wrong in the print queue. If a document doesn't print, it could be due to a number of different things. If bidirectional support is disabled, there's no way to troubleshoot the problem effectively. Fortunately, bidirectional support is enabled automatically on most modern computers and printers. It sometimes stops working, though, and it may be disabled on older models.
Repair Bidirectional Support Issues by Updating or Installing Printer Drivers
Printer drivers allow computer programs to communicate effectively with printers. These drivers need to be updated from time to time, and they sometimes become corrupted and stop working entirely. On modern computers and printers, the most common reason for bidirectional support to stop working is a failed printer driver. Luckily, this is easy enough to remedy. If an update is available, install it. Otherwise, you'll have to remove and reinstall your printer drivers. Do so by following these steps:
- Locate the printer utility by searching for it from the Start menu.
- Right-click on the computer that's experiencing problems. Select the delete option to delete it.
- Right-click on any part of the screen and select "Run as Administrator."
- From the administrator menu, click over to the server properties section.
- Click on the drivers tab. Remove the printer, and then remove the driver and driver package that go along with it.
- On the Start menu search box, type "APPWIZ.cpl."
- Visit the website for your printer manufacturer and locate the driver for your printer. You should be able to find it by searching for the model number of your printer.
- Download and run the driver package. The installation wizard will guide you through the process. At this point, bidirectional support should be working again.
Enable Bidirectional Support on Older Models
If you have an older computer, you can follow these steps to enable bidirectional support. In most cases, this will resolve the problem.
- Click over to the Devices and Printers or Printers and Faxes section from the Start menu.
- Double-click on the icon for the printer that is experiencing problems and go to the customization section.
- Locate the ports tab and click on it. Near the bottom of the window, you should see an option that says "enable bidirectional support." Click on the little box next to it.
- If the option is grayed out or unavailable, bidirectional support may not be available for your printer or computer. The only thing you can do is contact the printer manufacturer to see if any other steps can be taken.
After getting bidirectional support going again, your issues with print queues and ink level statuses should be over. Just keep these steps in mind in case you experience these issues again in the future.