QuickBooks printer problems can be very frustrating and may be difficult to resolve. I’m going to talk about one of the simpler ways to fix many of the printer issues that can occur in the Windows desktop version of QuickBooks.
Fixing printer problems with QuickBooks can be complicated, because there are many different, archaic computer programs involved. Let’s face it, Microsoft Windows is a very old product that has many layers of complication built over the years. Patches on top of patches, it is a wonder that it still works. The QuickBooks desktop product isn’t that different, really. It is an old software system that relies on ancient technologies that nobody should be using any more, and it also has been patched over and over again. Then we throw in the complication of dealing with thousands of different printers, each probably having many different revisions of printer drivers. It makes my head spin!
Still, these old systems all seem to work together most of the time.
When a client comes to me and says, “I can’t print anything from QuickBooks,” I go through a quick checklist to try to pin down the issue. “Can’t print anything” is a very non-specific statement that doesn’t really tell me anything.
- Is the printer turned on and plugged in? Funny how many times that is the source of the problem. It’s a good place to start.
- Can you print to that printer from some other program? This tells me if it is a QuickBooks problem or a Windows (or hardware) problem. If you can’t print from another program, then QuickBooks isn’t the issue. I generally don’t support Windows or hardware systems so I turn this over to their system tech support person.
- Does the error occur if you restart the computer? Isn’t that the most common “computer support answer”? Reboot your computer? It may sound trite, but it does sometimes fix problems.
- Do you get a printer error message? Sometimes you get an error, sometimes things just don’t print, sometimes the printout just looks crazy or garbled. If there is a printer error code of some sort:
- Is it a Windows error dialog? Again, if it is a Windows error of some sort I’ll generally refer the client to their system tech support person, although I will ask them to keep me in the loop.
- Is it a QuickBooks error dialog? Unfortunately, with the way that Intuit has rearranged the QuickBooks support pages, there isn’t a comprehensive list of error codes (and fixes). You can search the website for the error code, but keep in mind that many of the responses that you find in the new support website are from the community forums, and many of the links in those kinds of responses are no longer valid. This can be very frustrating! Fortunately, one of the fixes for many error codes is a repair tool from Intuit that I’ll talk about later in this article.
- Does the problem occur when printing a transaction form, such as an invoice? If you can print reports, but not transaction forms, try changing the template that the form is using. I suggest using one of the standard built-in templates. Sometimes the templates can become corrupted, and switching to another will resolve the problem. Corrupted templates cannot be repaired.
If you’ve gotten to this point without resolving the problem, you can be reasonably sure that the issue is specific to QuickBooks and the way it works with printers.
QuickBooks and Printers
QuickBooks stores printer-related information in several files. The two that are usually involved with printer problems are the qbprint.qpb and wpr.ini files. If these files become corrupted they can interfere with printing of reports and transactions from QuickBooks, but they won’t interfere with printing from other Windows programs.
If any of these are damaged you may see a message with an error number (less likely), printouts that won’t fit or scale properly for your selected printer, or (the most common occurrence) QuickBooks just won’t print anything, without displaying any error.
The qbprint.qpb file contains information about the printer selections and setup you’ve made for each form that you work with in QuickBooks. Things like invoices, estimates and so forth. Each form has a separate line in this file. Note that this is a binary file, not a text file, so you cannot edit it directly.
When you print a transaction form you see a printer setup dialog. Changes you make here are stored in this file.
The wpr.ini file is a text file, like what I show below, that contains general information about Windows printers.
Often this file is very small. You rarely will see a problem with this file, but it is worth looking at if all else fails. Do not try to edit this file.
Fixing QuickBooks Printer Problems
If you have gone through my checklist and still have a problem, odds are that you have a corrupted QuickBooks qbprint.qbp or wpr.ini file. There are three ways to resolve this problem.
Note that these files are found in a particular location, and that location varies depending on the year and version of QuickBooks you are using. The files are stored in a “hidden location”, and you will have to change a Windows setting to be able to find them. See this Intuit KB article on how to display hidden files and folders.
Once you are able to display the hidden folders, you will find both of these files in:
C:\Program Data\Intuit\QuickBooks xxxx
The “xxxx” will be the year of QuickBooks (such as “2017”) if you are using QuickBooks Pro or Premier, or it will be “Enterprise Solutions yy.0” with the “yy” being the edition of Enterprise (such as “17”).
Note that on Windows Server environments the file location may be different.
Since the year of QuickBooks is in the folder path, you may have multiple copies of the files if you have installed multiple years of QuickBooks on your system.
1) Restore Backups
If you have been using the QuickBooks backup process (File/Back Up Company/Create Local Backup in current releases of QuickBooks), the qbprint.qbp and wpr.ini files are included in that backup. Restoring those files from the backup can often resolve your printer problems.
However, I generally don’t recommend this option unless you have some very complicated printer setups for all of your transaction forms.
Be very careful, because you don’t want to restore an out-of-date QuickBooks Company File, you just want to restore those printer files.
Unfortunately, the restore process isn’t all that simple. The QuickBooks restore process doesn’t put the printer files back into the correct location. The files are restored to a separate folder. See my article on restoring QuickBooks backups for details.