How to fix a "filter failed" error when printing PDFs on macOS

Issue/Question

  • When I try to print a PDF from my Mac, I get an error message that says "Stopped Filter Failed".
  • I receive an error when I try to print a PDF that says "Unable to convert PostScript file"

Environment

When printing a PDF on a computer running macOS, you may receive an error that says either "Stopped Filter Failed" or "Unable to convert to PostScript file".

This is common when you upgrade from an older version of macOS to a newer version as the printing system within the operating system may have gone through changes within a new operating system version. For example, upgrading from OS X 10.14.7 to macOS 11 (Big Sur) can cause these errors because the entire system that allows you to print PDFs has changed.

Resolution

The resolution includes two major steps. First you will need to reset the printing system and then you will need to re-install your printers. The following steps will guide you through the process.  

Note: You do need to have administrator privileges before running these steps. If you are a Bowdoin faculty or staff member, run the Privileges app before attempting these steps. For more information, view the "Related Articles" section.

Reset the Printing System

  • Click the Apple menu icon, and then click System Preferences.
  • Click Printers and Scanner / Print and Scan or Print and Fax.
    • Make a note of the printers you have installed. You may want to open each one and note the name, queue and driver used as you might need to refer to that information later.
  • Right-click the blank space in the Printers list, and then click Reset printing system.
  • Click Reset in the confirmation window.
  • Enter an administrator username and password, and then click OK.
  • Wait until the printing system is reset and no devices show in the Printers list
  • Restart your computer

Re-Install Printers

  • Go to your Applications folder and open Managed Software Center ( or Self Service)
  • Locate and install the printer(s) you want use.
  • If the printer(s) are not in Managed Software Center or Self Service, you will need to install them by hand.
    • Go back to System preferencesPrinters and scanners.
    • Click the Add button (+).
    • Follow the steps from that article "How to install a network printer" located in the Related Articles section, using the printer information you wrote down in an earlier step.

If you need further assistance, please contact the Bowdoin College Service Desk

Details

Article ID: 127668
Created
Wed 2/10/21 10:51 AM
Modified
Wed 2/10/21 10:51 AM
Platform Environment (OS)
macOS