Mac User Issue: Printer Does Not Work When Connected to a VPN

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Printing on a Mac computer is usually easy and fuss-free unless you are trying to connect a large format printer. But sometimes it doesn’t work, and you would have to navigate connecting printers and troubleshooting printing failures of various kinds.

One recurring issue is VPN printing issues via macOS. Imagine this: you have an iMac with a VPN connection set up to a remote Windows computer. While the VPN connection is fine and you’re able to connect to and use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app to control the remote machine, issues crop up once you try to print something through your local printer. It simply won’t work via Mac.

You may have networked printer in your home network, along with a working VPN setup to connect to that home network while you’re on the go. Whenever you open the VPN tunnel, you can address all devices on the network without a hitch – except you cannot print over the tunnel.

Here’s a closer look at the problem and potential workarounds you can try.

Help! Can’t Print to Network Printer Over VPN

Many computer users use virtual private networks (VPNs) to remotely connect to a distant network as well as use the resources on that network like they are local. Printing across a VPN or printing to a local printer while connected to one can come with a roster of challenges, since the VPN reconfigures your computer’s network connection.

Here’s how it works. When you connect to a VPN, specialized VPN software establishes a tunnel or a dedicated connection to a point of presence (POP) in the remote network. This POP device serves as a virtual presence that permits your computer to reroute data that would otherwise traverse your local network.

Certain difficulties in printing to devices on the local network can surface because the VPN software intercepts traffic on the local network, rerouting it to the remote network.

A Few Solutions You Can Try

Here are a number of quick solutions if you are encountering VPN printing issues using your Mac computer:

  • Cover the Basics – When troubleshooting a Mac computer with printing woes, check first if the printer is ready to print, has paper and the right supplies, and has no error message. If the printer is connected through USB, you can also disconnect the printer’s USB cable and reconnect it.
  • Have the Proper Printer Drivers Installed on the Local Computer – This is a must in order to use remote printers. Take note, though, that printing issues may still ensure even with the proper drivers, in which case it’s best to contact a server administrator to ensure that servers in the remote network have the necessary printer drivers installed. The administrator may need to adjust the server configuration, too, in order to make remote printing possible.
  • Disable ‘Enable Local LAN Access’ Setting – To print remotely, make sure that this setting is disabled in the VPN software.
  • Set the Right Printer as the Default – Make sure you’re sending the printing job automatically to the correct printer. Do this by opening System Preferences > Printers & Scanners, and then making sure the printer chosen within the Default printer drop-down menu is the device you seek to use. Assuming there aren’t physical issues with the printer, you can remove the problematic device and install it anew.
  • Is Split Tunneling Enabled? – If yes, then experts advise making sure printer mapping on your home machine is directly done to the IP address, not via netbios or DNS names. If that still doesn’t work, then make sure that split tunneling is disabled on the client side.

Summary

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While printing on a Mac computer can be fairly easy to do, there are a couple of printing troubles that can come up from time to time. These include issues printing over VPN connection. One or more of the basic solutions we outlined above hopefully do the trick.

It’s important to have all the right print drivers and software requirements installed and available to get the printing job done, as well as get a high-quality VPN service to secure your internet experience across all your devices at all times.

Got questions or workarounds that you’ve tried and worked successfully? Share them with our readers below!

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