If you use more than one printer, Windows 10 automatically sets the one you used most recently as the default printer. However, a situation may arise where you would want to change the default printer. There are different methods you can use to achieve your aim, and that is what we will outline in this guide.
But that’s not all. Some users have reported that after setting a default printer, Windows keeps changing it. If you have encountered this issue, just keep reading since we’ve put together some easy solutions to help you fix it.
How to Set a Printer as the Default Printer in Windows 10
Here are the different methods available to you:
- Using the Settings app
- Using the Print dialog
- Using the Control Panel
- Using an elevated Command Prompt
Change the Default Printer in the Settings App
Follow the steps below to set your default printer:
- Press the Windows icon + I keyboard combination to invoke the Settings app. You could also open the Start menu and click the Settings icon.
- Click on Devices.
- Click on Printers and Scanners in the left pane.
- On the right pane, click the toggle to turn off the ‘Let Windows manage my default printer’ option. Once you do so, Windows will no longer set a printer as the default printer automatically. This step is required before you can change your default printer.
- Afterward, move to the Printers & scanners section and click on the printer you wish to set as default. Once you do, you will be presented with its options. Click the Manage button.
- On the new page that opens, you will find the ‘Set as default’ button. Click on it.
Note: If the ‘Set as default’ button is not available, it means that you did not follow Step 4. You have to stop Windows 10 from automatically choosing a default printer.
Once you have completed the above steps, the desired printer will now appear as the selected device when you try printing a document. The status will show “Default” in the printer list.
Change the Default Printer via the Control Panel
The Devices & Printers option can also be found in the Control Panel. Here’s how to access it:
- Open the Run box by pressing the Windows icon + R shortcut.
- Type ‘Control Panel’ into the text area and click OK or hit Enter on your keyboard.
Alternatively, you could type ‘Control Panel’ into the Start menu search bar and click on the option when it appears in the search results.
- Direct your attention to the ‘View: by’ drop-down in the top-right corner of the Control Panel window and make sure that it is set to ‘Small icons.’
- Locate ‘Devices and Printers’ in the list of options and click on it.
- Move to the Printers section on the new page that opens and right-click on the printer of your choice. Then click on ‘Set as default printer’ in the contextual menu.
Change the Default Printer via the Print Dialog
Here’s what you have to do:
- Open Notepad and click on the File tab.
- Click on Print to access the Print dialog.
Tip: You can simply press Ctrl + P to quickly open the Print dialog after launching Notepad.
- Right-click on the printer you want to make the default printer and then click on the ‘Set as Default Printer’ option in the contextual menu.
- You will be presented with a warning that says that Windows will stop managing your default printer if you set this printer as default. Click the OK button to proceed. Your selected printer will now be the default printer.
“How Do I Change the Default Printer in CMD?”
This is easy to do. Follow the steps below:
- Open the Power User menu by pressing the Windows icon key + X keyboard combination.
- Click on Command Prompt (Admin).
- Confirm the action by clicking ‘Yes’ when the User Account Control (UAC) box appears on your screen.
- Once you are in the Command Prompt (Admin) window, copy and paste the following line and then hit enter to run it:
RUNDLL32 PRINTUI.DLL,PrintUIEntry /y /n “Printer name”
Note: Make sure that you replace “Printer name” in the above command with the name of the printer you want to set as your default printer. If you don’t know the name of the printer, open Notepad or Microsoft Word and press Ctrl + P to invoke the Print dialog. There, you will find the name of your printer.
How to Have Your Default Printer Switched Automatically Based on Your Location
As already mentioned, you can configure Windows 10 to manage your default printer automatically. The advantage is that the OS chooses a default printer based on your location. So, when you are in the office, the office printer is used as the default printer, and when you go home, your home printer is used.
To enable this setting, all you have to do is go to the Settings app (press the Windows icon + I shortcut) and click on Devices > Printers & Scanners. Then enable the option that says ‘Let Windows manage my default printer.’
Once you’ve allowed Windows to manage your default printer, the OS will always set the most recently used printer in a particular location as your default printer. So when you are at home, the last printer you used at home will be set as the default printer. And when you are in the office, the printer you last used there will be your default printer.
“Why Does My Default Printer Keep Changing in Windows 10?”
If Windows keeps changing your default printer, there are two reasons why that could happen:
- The first reason is that you’ve enabled the option that allows it to automatically manage your printers. So when you use another printer that is not the current default printer, Windows assumes that you now prefer that printer and, therefore, makes it the default printer.
- An unexpected error occurred, forcing the OS to default to another printer. Such errors include outdated or faulty printer software, corrupt registry entries, system bugs, broken printer cords, etc.
Whatever the case may be, there are several solutions you can use to resolve the issue and prevent Windows from changing your default printer.
“How Do I Permanently Set a Default Printer in Windows 10?”
- Turn off ‘Let Windows Manage My Default Printer’ and set a default printer yourself
- Check the printer status
- Reinstall the printer drivers
- Modify your printer settings in the Registry Editor
- Remove old printer connections
- Remove old entries from the Windows Registry
- Remove unwanted printers via Device Manager
- Remove unwanted printers via the Windows Settings app
- Install the latest Windows updates
- Create a new user account
- Run a system restore
Apply these fixes in the order presented so as to get rid of the issue as quickly as possible. Windows will no longer change your default printer by the time you have tried one or some of the solutions. We will now present all the necessary procedures.
Fix 1: Turn Off ‘Let Windows Manage My Default Printer’ and Set a Default Printer Yourself
When you use another printer, Windows automatically makes it the default device. Disabling the automatic printer management setting will stop the OS from making these changes. Afterward, you can then select the printer you want as default.
Follow these steps:
- Invoke the Settings app by pressing the Windows + I keyboard combination.
- Click on Devices on the Settings page.
- Click on Printers & Scanners in the left pane.
- In the right pane, click the toggle for the ‘Let Windows manage my default printer’ option to turn it off.
- Now, scroll to the section where your connected printers are displayed and click on the printer you want as default. Then click the Manage button that is displayed below it.
- Click the ‘Set as default’ button.
Afterward, Windows will no longer select a different printer as the default printer. However, if a change occurs again, then try the fixes that follow below.
Fix 2: Check the Printer Status
Windows will default to another printer if it detects an issue with your preferred printer. You need to check the status of the printer and see if it is powered on and online:
- Quickly open Devices and Printers by typing the name into the Start menu search bar.
- Locate your printer in the list of printers. Right-click on it and select ‘Set as Default.’ Once you have done that, the printer will have a green checkmark. Now click on the printer to select it and see the status. It should say ‘Ready.’
- If the printer is greyed out when you get to Step 2, it means that it is offline. Ensure that it is powered on and connected. If it is a wireless printer, see that it is connected to your wireless network. If it is a printer that is hooked up over a USB port, run the setup software and re-add the printer. Running the software will also fix any driver-related issues.
Also, check the USB and power cables and make sure that they are not disconnected or damaged. If there is a problem with these cables, the printer will be seen to have an issue and Windows will automatically default to another printer that works fine.
Fix 3: Reinstall the Printer Drivers
As mentioned earlier, Windows could be changing your default printer because it detects an issue. Thus, make sure that the software for all your printers is up to date and compatible. Begin by uninstalling the drivers and then install their updated versions. Follow these steps:
- Call up the Power User menu by pressing the Windows + X shortcut.
- Click on Device Manager in the menu.
- Once you are in the Device Manager window, locate your printer device and right-click on it. Then click on Uninstall Device from the contextual menu.
- Confirm the action by clicking on ‘Delete the driver software for this device’ and then click on Uninstall.
- Restart your PC and visit the website of your printer manufacturer. Search for the latest driver for your printer model and download and install it.
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Fix 4: Modify Your Printer Settings in the Registry Editor
If your default printer keeps changing, you can make a registry modification to resolve it. Here’s how:
- Bring up the Run accessory by pressing the Windows + R shortcut.
- Type ‘Regedit’ into the text field and click the OK button.
- Click the Yes button on the User Account Control prompt.
- Once you are in the Registry Editor window, create a backup first by clicking on ‘Computer’ in the left pane. Then click on the File tab and click Export. Enter a name for the backup file, select a location where it will be saved, and click the Save button.
- On the left pane, double-click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER to expand the options and then navigate to SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows NT > CurrentVersion > Windows.
- Once you get to Windows, double-click on LegacyDefaultPrinterMode in the left pane and set the Value Data to 1.
Afterward, set your default printer again.
Fix 5: Remove Old Printer Connections
If there are printers you don’t need or use anymore, removing them from Windows can help resolve the default printer changes.
Remove Entries of Unwanted Printers from the Windows Registry
Entries of printers you no longer use may remain in your registry. These entries can have a negative effect on Windows. It is advisable to remove them. Here’s how:
- Call up the Run dialog by pressing the Windows + R keyboard combination.
- Type ‘Regedit’ into the text field and hit Enter to open the Registry Editor.
- Click the Yes button on the User Account Control prompt.
- Create a backup of your registry by clicking on ‘Computer’ in the left pane and then click on the File tab. Enter a name for the backup file and save it in a safe location.
- Double-click on HKEY_USERS in the left pane of the Registry Editor window and then navigate to USERS_SID_HERE > Printers > Connections.
Note: Click on your own User SID to find the Printers folder. The SID is usually the longest one.
- Right-click on your old printer connections and select Delete.
- Afterward, navigate to the HKEY_USERS > USERS_SID_HERE > Printers > Settings key and delete the unwanted printer settings.
Warning: Making modifications to your registry can be risky. If you find the above steps challenging, it is best to use the Auslogics Registry Cleaner program to run a scan. The tool will automatically remove unwanted keys and entries from your registry without any risk of harm to your operating system.
Set your default printer again after you’ve removed the entries of old printers from your registry.
Remove Unwanted Printers via Windows Settings
Follow these easy steps:
- Open the Settings app by pressing the Windows + I keyboard combination.
- Click on Devices and then click on Printers & Scanners in the left pane.
- Scroll to the section on the right pane where your printers are listed. Select the printer you no longer need by clicking on it.
- Click the Remove Device button and then click ‘Yes’ to confirm the action.
Remove Unwanted Printers via Device Manager
You can also uninstall the drivers of unwanted printers via Device Manager:
- Open the Power User menu by pressing the Windows + X keyboard combination.
- Click on Device Manager in the list.
- Locate the unwanted device and right-click on it. Then select Uninstall Driver Software.
Fix 6: Install the Latest Windows Updates
System bugs can cause your default printer to keep changing even after you have made all the necessary configurations. Fortunately, Microsoft periodically releases updates that contain patches for various bugs, recent drivers for your hardware devices, and more. Installing these updates will help resolve not only the issue you are having with your printers but also other problems you are yet to recognize on your computer.
Windows 10 is configured by default to automatically download and install new updates. However, you can still check for updates whenever you desire by following the steps below:
- Open the Settings app: Go through the Start menu or press the Windows + I shortcut.
- Click on Updates & Security.
- Click on Windows Updates in the left pane and then click the Check for Updates button in the right pane to start the process. If any updates are found, Windows will download them.
- To complete the installation, restart your computer when prompted.
Fix 7: Create a New User Account
If you still can’t get past the issue, although that is quite unlikely at this point, another solution that can help is creating a new user account. Here’s how:
- Open Windows Settings by pressing the Windows icon + I shortcut and click on Accounts.
- Click on the Family & Other People section.
- Click on ‘Add someone else to this PC.’
- Enter the details of your second Microsoft account, or you can indicate that you do not have this person’s sign-in information by clicking on the related link.
- Click on ‘Add a user without a Microsoft account.’
- Follow the instructions as presented to complete the process.
When you are done, log in to the new account you created and see if the printer issue will continue. You can migrate your files to the account and use it instead of your old account.
Fix 8: Run a System Restore
The ‘Default printer keeps changing’ problem could be a result of recent updates or modifications you made on your computer. A good solution to that will be to perform a system restore to the last point when things worked normally:
- Go to the Start menu and type ‘System Restore’ into the search bar. Then click on the option from the search results.
- Click the System Restore button and then click Next when the System Restore page opens.
- Elect to show more restore points if available. Then choose a restore point with a date when you are sure Windows had no issues with your printers.
- Click ‘Next’ and follow the instructions presented to you to complete the restore process.
- Restart your computer afterward and then see if the ‘default printer keeps changing’ issue has been resolved.
Note: Keep in mind that performing a system restore will remove the programs you installed and undo the system settings you modified after the date of your selected restore point.
Now you know how to set your default printer if you have multiple printers. You can allow Windows 10 to manage your printers automatically. The OS will always set the last used printer as the default printer. Windows also manages your default printer based on your location. This means that when you have more than one printer at home, the one you used recently will be set as the default printer. Likewise, when you go to your place of work, the last printer that you used will also be set as the default printer.
We also discussed how to fix issues that cause your chosen printer not to remain the default printer. Since Windows 10 can manage your default printer automatically, issues may arise and cause your favorite printer to stop being the default printer. However, you can fix them by applying the helpful solutions we presented above.
We hope you’ve found this article worth your while. If you have any questions or remarks, please kindly share them with us through the comments section below. We will be glad to hear from you.