Mac Troubleshooting Guide: Resolving “Filter Failed” Error Message in macOS Sonoma When Printing

In multiple cases, after moving to a new Mac (on Sonoma) via Apple’s built-in Migration Assistant, I’ve seen a “Filter Failed” message– which prevents printing– upon attempting to print to a printer that worked fine with the older Mac. In every case, the problem was solved by removing the printer from the Mac’s System Settings, and then adding the printer again. No, I don’t know why the message says “Filter Failed.” But I do know that removing the printer, and adding it again, makes the message go away, letting you print.

(This might work with other macOS versions also but I know for sure it solves the problem in Sonoma.)

Here are the steps.

On your Sonoma Mac, go to the Apple menu, come down to System Settings, and then scroll to the very bottom where you’ll find “Printers & Scanners.” Click that.

Printers & Scanners in Sonoma's System Settings
Printers & Scanners in macOS Sonoma’s System Settings

Find your printer in the list, click on it, then choose “Remove Printer…” You’ll be asked whether you’re sure about removing it, and since it’s already not working, removing it is an easy decision. Remove it.

Removing a printer in macOS Sonoma
Removing a printer in macOS Sonoma

Now scroll to the very bottom of the printer list (your list will probably not require scrolling), and click the button at the bottom right (“Add Printer, Scanner, or Fax…”). Hopefully you see your printer. Click on it to select.

Generally speaking, after selecting your printer you’ll see “Use: Auto Select” at the bottom of the window. Also generally speaking, Apple will auto-select either “Secure AirPrint” or sometimes simply “AirPrint.” AirPrint (and Secure AirPrint) is Apple’s software, included with a Mac’s operating system, and most of the time it works great with zillions of printers, so it’s worth giving it a try. Click the Add button. If that solves your problem, that’s that. Mission accomplished.

Adding a printer in the macOS Sonoma System Settings
Adding a printer in the macOS Sonoma System Settings

If you let Apple choose Secure AirPrint (via Auto Select), and then your printer doesn’t work, try manually choosing “AirPrint” (instead of Secure AirPrint) before clicking “Add.”

Note: you can’t change from Secure AirPrint to AirPrint. You have to remove the printer, and then add it again.

If THAT doesn’t work, Apple’s AirPrint software just isn’t right for your printer. You might be able to make things work by getting software from the printer manufacturer’s website, deleting the printer again, and then adding it again and choosing the software you just installed.

(You might also have to “reset the printing system” before making things work– this article tells you how.)

Special Note about HP printers

If you have an HP printer, you may be tempted to use HP’s “HP Smart” software. That’s what HP would have you do. But, in my experience, HP Smart seldom works. Instead, the thing to do is download Apple’s version of HP’s printer software, and install that. Then remove the printer again, and add it again, and if you can, choose software that matches your printer from the “Use” menu at the bottom of the Add Printer box.

(I know, I know: Apple says their version of HP’s software is not compatible with macOS 12 (Monterey) or newer, but it seems to work for me.)

One more thing: you might find that Apple’s AirPrint and Secure AirPrint drivers (which work for lots of printers) work fine for printing, but might not work when it comes to scanning (for all-in-one devices– printer/scanner/copier). If that’s the case, you should download and install software straight from the printer manufacturer, made for your particular printer model. Avoid sites that aren’t the official printer manufacturer’s– you won’t know what you’re getting.

Still having trouble? Let me know.

Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Mac Troubleshooting Guide: Resolving “Filter Failed” Error Message in macOS Sonoma When Printing

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  1. I can’t thank you enough for this solution! I have been trying everything, but nothing worked, and that’s no fun with a deadline looming ahead and two important printouts needed. Your hint finally did. You saved my day!

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