Recently, I tried to install an old Zebra Eltron 2543 and 3844 parallel thermal label printer on an office computer. I found that no matter what I tried, I always ended up with the generic error message of, “Unable to install printer. Operation could not be completed.” When trying to install other printers, I found the same error message popping up right after I clicked on the finish button.
To solve this problem, I attempted the following (all of which did not work):
- Downloaded the most current drivers
- Try alternate drivers
- Change the driver in already installed printers
- Try to print to the newly installed printer with an already installed printer
- Restarted multiple times
- Made sure all Windows updates were installed
- Booted into safe mode and tried to install printer
- Installed the printer successfully on another computer
After all this, I was ready to format and reinstall Windows. I decided to check out Microsoft’s site to see if there were any known issues with my printer or computer. I stumbled upon a knowledge base article that really helped fix this problem, and I’m sure it can help fix many other printer driver related issues.
Here are the steps to take to completely remove all printers on your computer. I like to think of this as a “clean reset” of the printing functionality in Windows XP. These steps involve touching the registry. If you’re not comfortable with going in there and making changes to this portion of the operating system, I wouldn’t suggest it. I make no warranty that these steps will fix your issue. I strongly recommend making a complete backup of the entire registry before beginning.
1. Startup your computer is safe mode. This is done by pressing F8 when you first turn on the computer until you see the Windows menu. Select “Safe Mode” and wait until the computer is finished booting up.
2. Delete all files and folders out of these two locations.
3. Open the registry editor. To do this, click Start, click Run, type “regedit” in the Open box, and then press OK.
4. Locate and expand the following registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlPrintEnvironmentsWindows NT x86
There should only be the following two subkeys (delete the rest):
- Print Processors
5. Expand the Version-x subkeys, and then delete all the printer driver entries.
6. Locate and then expand the following registry key:
There may be a bunch of different subkeys in this place. These are the only ones that should be there, delete the rest:
- BJ Language Monitor
- Local Port
- PJL Language Monitor
- Standard TCP/IP Port
- USB Monitor
You can also delete any extra ports that were created but are no longer needed at this location in the registry if you wish.
7. Check to see if the Print Spooler service is running. To do this, follow these steps:
- Click Start, right-click My Computer, and then click Manage.
- Expand Services and Applications, and then click Services.
- In the details pane, right-click the Print Spooler service, and then click Start (if it is stopped).
- Exit Computer Management.
If this service doesn’t start, you may have other issues. Head to the link at the end of this article. That that KB page, there is a link to work out printer spooler problems.
8. After all these steps are done, go ahead and restart the computer and try and add a printer. It worked great for me. Hopefully this will help out anyone with that annoying, “Operation can not complete” error.
These steps are a tech’s abridgment of this Microsoft KB article (324757)