Print Troubleshooting Overview

Explains ShipStation's printing process, print preferences, and document options. Also lists potential sources of interference, common print errors, and help articles.

ShipStation knows if you can't print your labels, your shipping operation is at a standstill. This overview provides information about how the printing process in ShipStation works, what preferences and options affect your printing, potential sources of interference, common errors you may see, and links to articles about specific issues you may encounter.

Printing in ShipStation's New or Legacy Layout

There are a few differences with printing between ShipStation's current layout and legacy layout. Whenever necessary, the articles in this section will make the distinction between the steps necessary to resolve the issue in each version.

The General Printing Process

You can print from ShipStation in two ways:

  • Using ShipStation Connect

  • Printing a PDF

Using ShipStation Connect

The most common method uses ShipStation Connect to send your documents to your printer directly from your ShipStation account. This requires ShipStation Connect to be installed and running on the printer workstation (the computer to which your printer is directly connected).

When you tell ShipStation to print, ShipStation sends the document from our database through the cloud to the printer workstation with ShipStation Connect. ShipStation Connect then passes that document on to your printer driver, and that in turn passes the document on to your printer.

Flowchart of arrows going from ShipStation Cloud, to ShipStation Connect, to Printer Driver, to Printer.

This entire process happens behind the scenes when you click print. This process allows you to also share your printers through ShipStation Connect with any other user on your ShipStation account.

Sharing printers gives other users the option to print to a printer workstation from a warehouse, an office, or even a remote location in another region. As long as your printer workstation is awake, and ShipStation Connect is running, ShipStation can send documents to your printer workstation via ShipStation Connect.

Configure Connect to Fit Your Network

The What Connect Scenario Works for You? PDF attached at the end of this article provides more information about how ShipStation Connect works in different account setups.

Printing a PDF

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.

While printing via the PDF method is not as versatile or efficient as using ShipStation Connect, it's useful to have a backup print method should you need one. Also, the PDF method is a good troubleshooting step to help identify where an issue may be in the printing process.

Printing Preferences and Document Options

There are two settings that determine how documents are printed:

  • The Printer Preferences configured via your workstation operating system (Windows or MacOS).

  • The Document Options in ShipStation.

Printer Preferences

In Windows, you'll configure your printer preferences in the Devices & Printers Control Panel.

In MacOS, you'll configure preferences through CUPS.

Preferences configured at this level include:

  • Paper size

  • Darkness

  • Quality

  • Print speed

  • And other options that tell your printer how to print the files it receives.

The most important of these is paper size. The printer preferences will take the 4" x 6" label it receives from ShipStation and resize it to match the paper size set in your printer preferences.

For A6 thermal printers, set the printer preferences to match the actual paper size the printer uses (A6, 100mm x 150mm, etc).

For A4 standard printers, set the printer preference's paper size to 8.5" x 11" (also called Letter size). This will prevent the label from getting resized and causing potential scanning or label compliance issues with your courier. The 4" x 6" label will still fit appropriately on the A4 paper.

Alignment Issues with Integrated Labels

If you are using A4 integrated label paper (paper that includes a peel-off label), the label alignment may be slightly off when using the above method. If this occurs, change the paper size in the printer preferences to match your actual paper size. The label will be resized, but it may solve the alignment issue.

Document Options

To get to the Document Options in ShipStation, go to Settings > Printing > Printing Setup.

Click Document Options to tell ShipStation in which format to create labels and packing slips.

Printing Setup document options for document type, print to, document format, and other document options.
  • Documents sent to a thermal label printer should be set to the 4"x6" layout (equivalent to A6 paper).

  • Documents sent to a standard printer should be set to the 8.5"x11" layout (equivalent to A4 paper).

Keep in mind that all labels in ShipStation are created as 4"x6" labels. Selecting the 8.5"x11" layout will tell ShipStation to rotate the label to fit on the standard size paper.

A mismatch between the selected document options and the paper size set in the printer preferences can have unexpected results, like the document printing too large or too small.

Printer Communication Interference

Printing relies on communication between multiple elements. Since ShipStation is a browser-based application, it relies on your network connection to initiate the print actions. The label (or other document) is then sent from our servers to ShipStation Connect, which is locally installed on your printer workstation. ShipStation Connect then sends the document 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 applications or plug-ins 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.

  • You can temporarily disable security apps or plug-ins to help eliminate a possible source of interference in the communication chain. This step can tell you if you need to whitelist your ShipStation domain or add ShipStation Connect to the security app's list of "safe" programs.

  • A device that gets disconnected from the workstation while ShipStation Connect is running could break the link between ShipStation Connect and your printers. This can occur if the printer is physically disconnected from the USB port, or if your Windows power-save preferences are set to put the USB ports to sleep after a period of inactivity.

    Should this happen, deactivate ShipStation Connect, reconnect the printer, and then activate ShipStation Connect again to re-establish communication.

Printing Troubleshooting Articles

Below is a list of print troubleshooting articles available in our help centre:

  • Unable to Print

    Review this article if you are unable to print your documents from ShipStation and are unsure why. It will help you determine if the issue is related to your printer hardware or related to ShipStation Connect, and also provides an alternate print method if necessary.

  • Printers not showing up

    Review this article if you cannot see your printers either in your ShipStation Connect Settings (when configuring ShipStation Connect) or when you attempt to print a document.

  • Printing to large or too small

    Review this article if your labels or other documents do not print the correct size for your selected media.

  • Poor quality or misaligned labels

    Review this article if your labels look grainy or misaligned.

  • Devices disappearing from ShipStation Connect settings list

    Review this article if devices intermittently disappear from your ShipStation Connect Settings devices list (Windows only)

  • Labels using non-Roman characters

    Review this article if you have non-Roman characters printing as ??? on your labels.

  • Printing Error Messages

    Common error messages you may see when printing, their causes, and steps to resolve.