ShipStation knows that if you can't print your labels, your shipping operation is at a standstill. This overview provides helpful information and an index of troubleshooting articles specifically for printing-related issues you might run into so you can get printing again as soon as possible.
This overview includes (click to jump to section):
- General Printing Process Information
- Printing preferences and configuration
- Possible sources of interference
- Index of available troubleshooting articles
- Error messages you may encounter
Using ShipStation Connect
You can print from ShipStation in two ways. The most common way uses ShipStation Connect to send your documents to your printer. This requires that ShipStation Connect be installed and running on the printer workstation (the computer your printer is directly connected to). When you tell ShipStation to print, ShipStation sends the document through the cloud to Connect, which passes it on to your printer driver, which in turn passes it on to the printer hardware.
This entire process happens behind the scenes when you click print! This process allows you to also share your printers through Connect with any other user on your ShipStation account. Sharing printers allows other users to choose to print to that workstation from wherever they are signed in from, whether that be from a warehouse, an office, or a remote location in another state! As long as your printer workstation is awake, and Connect is registered, ShipStation can pass documents to your printer workstation via Connect.
*The attached PDF at the end of this article provides more information on how ShipStation Connect works in different account setups.
Printing a PDF
Alternately, you can view and print your documents in PDF format, either directly from your browser or by downloading the PDF to your hard drive. In this instance, the printing process happens outside of ShipStation, and ShipStation Connect is not involved. Think of it like ShipStation passing the PDF to your browser's PDF viewer (or your hard drive, if you download it), and then your computer passing the PDF to your printer driver and on to your printer.
While printing using the PDF method is not as versatile or efficient as using Connect, it's useful to have a backup print method should you need it, and it's a good troubleshooting step to help identify where in the printing process an issue may be.
There are two settings that determine how documents are printed: your operating system Printer Preferences and the Document Options within ShipStation.
Operating system printer preferences for Windows users are located in Control Panel > Devices & Printers. For Mac users, while printers are added through System Preferences > Printers & Scanners, most printer preferences must be configured through CUPS.
Preferences that are configured at this level include paper size, darkness, quality, print speed, and other options that tell your printer how to print the files it's sent. The most important of these is paper size, which must match the actual size of the paper the printer users (i.e. either 4in x 6in or 8.5in x 11in).
The Document Options in ShipStation's settings tell ShipStation in which format to create labels and packing slips. Again, these should always match the format of the printer. Documents sent to a 4x6 label printer, should be set to the 4x6 layout. Documents sent to a standard 8.5x11 printer should be set to the 8.5x11 layout. Keep in mind, though, that all labels in ShipStation will print as 4x6 labels. Selecting the 8.5x11 layout will tell ShipStation to include two 4x6 labels on one 8.5x11 sheet.
A mismatch between the selected document options and the printer preference paper size can have unexpected results, like the document printing too large or too small.
Printing relies on communication between multiple elements. Since ShipStation is a browser-based application, it relies on your network connection to receive the label from the carrier and then send that label from our servers to ShipStation Connect, which is a locally-installed application. Connect then sends the document file to the printer driver, which sends it to your printer hardware.
Anything that interferes with this communication could cause your printing process to stop working as expected. For example, security apps or security plugins that scan or block communication to/from a browser or to/from different applications can interfere with the successful transmission of a document from ShipStation to the printer.
Temporarily disabling security apps or plugins can help eliminate a possible source of interference in the communication chain, tell you if you need to whitelist your ShipStation domain, or add Connect to the security app's list of "safe" programs.
Additionally, a device that gets disconnected from the workstation while Connect is running could break the link between Connect and your printers. This an occur if the printer is physically disconnected from the USB port, or if your Windows power save preferences are set to put the ports to sleep after a period of inactivity. Should this happen, deactivating Connect, reconnecting the printer, and then activating Connect again should re-establish communication.
Provides steps to print a test label outside of ShipStation and determine whether Connect is running properly on either Windows or Mac platforms.
Provides steps to ensure Connect is installed, running, and communicating correctly with your workstation (both Windows and Mac platforms).
Provides steps to troubleshoot communication issues with Connect on Windows workstations.
Provides steps to troubleshoot communication issues with Connect on Mac workstations.
Provides troubleshooting steps for devices that disappear intermittently from the Connect settings on Windows workstations.
Provides steps to troubleshoot labels printing at the incorrect size on Windows workstations.
Provides steps to troubleshoot labels printing at the incorrect size on Mac workstations.
Provides steps to troubleshoot various print quality issues on both platforms.
"Print job failed to download" - Something has blocked communication between ShipStation and ShipStation Connect. Check for security apps, browser plugins, or other printing apps (like UPS Worldship) that can claim the printing process and make it unavailable to ShipStation Connect.
"Print job failed to start" - ShipStation Connect received the label from ShipStation successfully, but was unable to transmit it to the printer driver. Check for stuck jobs in the print queue, or security apps that may need Connect added to their list of "safe" programs.
"Uncaught Node.JS error" - This can occur when you attempt to launch ShipStation Connect after a printer was physically disconnected from the USB port while Connect was running. First, disconnect the printer. Then, on Windows, end the nw.exe task in the task manager, plugin the device and relaunch connect. On a Mac, end the ShipStation Connect item in Activity Monitor. Then, plugin the device and relaunch Connect. If the issue persists, see the uninstall and reinstall instructions in the "Why is ShipStation Connect not communicating...." articles above.
"Application "Connect" cannot be launched, please contact the manufacturer" - Temporarily disable any security apps and try to open Connect. For Windows users, also be sure all updates have been installed for your OS. Connect relies on certain Windows components to be up to date in order to launch Connect successfully.
*If Connect shows the print job was sent successfully, but nothing prints and no error appears... This could mean you have a default printer configured, but set to an inactive instance of the device. Go to Settings > Printing > Printing Setup and reset your default printer by clicking on the option in the "Print To" column. Select the device you want to use as the default printer. Then test print with this new connection.