How to Make a Printer the Default?

Making a printer the default on your computer ensures documents automatically go to your preferred printer without having to select it each time. Setting a default printer saves time and effort when printing frequently.

How to Make a Printer the Default?

This guide covers multiple methods to set any printer as the default on Windows and Mac computers. We’ll also troubleshoot issues of multiple default printers or when the default automatically resets.

Why Set a Default Printer

Setting a default printer provides several benefits:

  • Saves time – Documents automatically go to your top choice printer without selecting it in the print dialogue box. This shortcut adds up to big time savings when printing frequently.
  • Avoids mistakes – Forgetting to change the printer could accidentally send sensitive documents to the wrong location. A default prevents this privacy issue.
  • Reduces headaches – Skipping printer selection skips problems too. Default settings dodge glitches from last minute printer changes.

With one printer doing most of your printing, setting this device as default makes your workday easier.

Windows Default Printer Methods

Windows offers several ways to assign a go-to printer. Which method you use depends on your Windows version and personal preferences.

Through Settings App

The Settings app provides an easy route to default printer selection. Just a few clicks gets the job done.

Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Windows Start button and select Settings app.
  2. Choose Devices.
  3. Under the Printers & Scanners section, select “Printers & Scanners” again.
  4. A list of your installed printers displays.
  5. Right click your preferred default printer.
  6. Select Set As Default in the pop-up menu.

That’s all it takes! Now this printer is automatically selected when printing from any program.

Through Control Panel

The classic Control Panel still holds printer management power too. Navigating here offers finer controls over printer options.

To reach default printer settings:

  1. Open Control Panel from your Start menu.
  2. Visit the Hardware and Sound section.
  3. Click View Devices and Printers.
  4. Right click the printer you want as default to open its context menu
  5. Choose Set As Default Printer.

Control Panel remembers this selection until you change it again.

During Printer Installation

Changing printer defaults starts even before installation for some devices.

Many printer installation wizards ask upfront whether to make the printer default during first-time setup. Accepting this option skips extra work later.

If you forgot or declined this initial default selection, rerun the printer’s installation wizard to choose again. Consult your device documentation for details.

Mac Default Printer Settings

Apple fans can swiftly assign favorite printers too.

MacOS relies on its System Preferences instead of Control Panel but otherwise operates similarly for printer control.

To alter default devices do this:

  1. Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences
  2. Select Printers & Scanners
  3. In the list of installed printers, identify the model you want as default
  4. Click the Options & Supplies button near the bottom
  5. Choose Set Default Printer from the next screen

These steps assign printer preferences across the whole Mac system. However, you can also choose default printers individually for each app if desired.

Consult your print menus during an active program to contain defaults only to certain software. This keeps other apps unaffected.

Multiple Default Printers

Sometimes more than one default printer shows up causing conflict and confusion.

Several different situations can trigger this issue:

  • New printer installation – Modern systems automatically make new printers the default. But they fail to demote your previous default, so now you have two.
  • Network printer connections – Network or cloud printers often shove aside old defaults too.
  • User permission changes – Switching admin levels like between standard and guest accounts brings printer conflicts.
  • Automated updates – Big software updates may revert your specialized defaults in favor of universal print management.

Thankfully eliminating extras only requires selecting one dominant printer to rule them all. Just repeat the steps above to focus on a single default again.

Default Printer Resets Itself

An even worse printing issue is when your carefully chosen default randomly resets itself back to a different model.

Some potential reasons for this frustrating glitch include:

  • Connectivity drops – Printers disconnecting from networks or power lose default status.
  • Driver conflicts – Outdated drivers cause clashes forcing defaults to failover printers.
  • Print spool glitches – Spool service crashes bring everything to a standstill including defaults.
  • Security policies – Network policies changing printer permissions also alter what’s allowed as default.

Start troubleshooting by checking your printer connectivity. Update drivers, resize spool, and check admin settings to get defaults fixed.

Key Takeaways

  • Making a printer default saves effort for frequent printing tasks. Documents automatically route without selection.
  • Windows, MacOS, and printer installation wizards all provide management options to define favored printers.
  • Troubleshoot issues of too many defaults by manually removing all but your preferred printer everywhere.
  • Investigate connectivity problems, drivers, spool, and permissions if your printer default randomly resets on its own.

Sticking to one main printer streamlines your workflow. Set this top choice as default across devices for maximum productivity.


Assigning default printer status takes just seconds but saves significant time long term. Following Windows, MacOS, or first-time printer setup instructions makes redirecting documents elementary.

Watch for multiple conflicting defaults during new installations and network changes. Also tackle connection problems, drivers, spool, and policy issues if your defaults seem unstable.

Setting then protecting favored printer preferences eliminates headaches so projects print problem-free every time. Employees stay productive and businesses keep customers satisfied thanks to default printer time savers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What happens if I have two default printers?
    Having two or more default printers can cause printing errors and inconsistent behavior. You should remove any extra defaults and assign a single printer as the one true default.
  2. Why is my default printer setting itself to Microsoft XPS?
    This often happens because the Microsoft XPS virtual printer gets installed during Windows updates. Disable or remove the XPS printer if you aren’t using it.
  3. Does setting a default printer affect other users?
    Default printer settings only apply to the currently logged-in Windows user account. Default changes do not impact other user profiles on the same multi-user computer.
  4. How do I stop Windows 10 from changing my default printer?
    Prevent changes by editing your printer properties to uncheck the setting “Let Windows manage my default printer.” This locks in your manual choice against automatic resets.
  5. Where is default printer setting in Registry Editor?
    The master default printer registry entries reside in Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\Device. Edit with caution.
  6. Why does my default printer keep changing to Adobe PDF?
    Some applications automatically set Adobe PDF or Document Writer as printer defaults during installs. Check your apps as well as OS-level default printer settings.
  7. What determines the initial default printer after installing a new device?
    Early default choices come from the OS, network policies, or the new printer’s own installation software preferences unless you customize during printer setup.
  8. How do I change the default for individual apps in Windows?
    Open an app’s Print window, choose your printer, right click it, and enable the “Set As App Default” option to contain preferences to only that software title.
  9. Can I quickly switch between two different default printers?
    Yes! Configure each as defaults on separate user accounts. Then toggle defaults rapidly logging between your preferred user profiles.
  10. Where is the default printer setting stored in MacOS?
    Mac systems save default printer selections locally in your user Library folder at /Users/[you]/Library/Preferences/
  11. My default printer changed itself after a Windows update?
    Big updates sometimes reset defaults as a side effect. Roll back problematic updates or review involved KB articles for workarounds to avoid future conflict.
  12. How do I stop automatic driver updates from changing my default device?
    Use your device manufacturer’s software to switch from automatic to manual printer driver updates. Then you control when updates occur.
  13. Can I set a wireless network printer as the default printer?
    Absolutely! Both wired and wireless printers can be set as defaults equally well as long as connectivity remains stable. Troubleshoot any drops immediately.
  14. Where is the default printer setting in Group Policy?
    The default printer policy lives under Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Printers > Make this the default printer.
  15. How do I find and delete old default printer settings?
    Use the Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Local Group Policy Editor and navigate to User Configuration > Preferences > Control Panel Settings > Printers
  16. Why does my default printer setting not apply in Adobe programs?
    Adobe apps feature independent printer preferences unaffected by system-wide defaults. Check defaults under File > Print > Settings menus while running Adobe instead.
  17. Can I set a printer connected to a different networked PC as my default?
    Yes, shared network printers can act as remote defaults after adding them locally through Windows Add Printer tools searching remote devices.
  18. How do I prevent unauthorized changes to default printers?
    Leverage role-based access controls restricting non-admin groups from altering defaults. Or use printers from read-only print servers.
  19. Does Mac have a single default printer or one default per app?
    Mac allows both! Set a system-wide default under System Preferences. But individual apps accessing print menus can override with their own defaults too.
  20. Where can I find advanced default printer troubleshooting steps?
    Consult Microsoft and Apple’s support sites for technical tools like Default Printer System Troubleshooters, Print Management utilities, logs, PowerShell scripts, DOT4 files, and further advanced troubleshooting guides.

Leave a Comment