Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (2023)

In most cases, connecting a wired printer is easy. Select the appropriate cable and connect one end toprinterThe other is on your computer or network. On the other hand, connecting a wireless printer is not always easy. Even if all goes well, it's still more complicated than plugging in cables.

Many years ago, when most people talked about wireless printers, they meant Wi-Fi (802.11) compatible devices, but now they aredirect wireless connectionand Bluetooth devices to consider. To complicate matters, the steps for the three methods differ depending on the exact model of printer you have. This, of course, makes it impossible to include all existing variants.

The good news is that many of these processes are automated in the modern environment.tableand mobile operating systems. Typically, the operating system will just walk you through the process. However, the steps for wirelessly connecting to a printer depend largely on the method you are using, the type of printer you have, and theroutertyp.

Check your settings before you start

unless your network usesStatic IP addressor other agreements beyond thatDynamic host configuration protocolmost of this process is automatic. The printer will usually find and connect (using the credentials provided) to the router, and then connect to the computing device. (Note that if your network is not DHCP, we recommend contacting your system administrator and/or setting a static IP address.)

Also be aware of any other settings changed from the most popular options. For example, if you disable DHCP (which automatically assigns IP addresses), you will need to assign aadres IPhands. Similarly, if you have configured your access point to only connect to devices with a specific MAC address, you will need to enter the printer's MAC address in the list before installing.

Key information you may need during setup includes your network SSID (your name), your network password, and the security protocol your network uses (WEP, WPA, or WPA2). If you did not set up this network yourself, you should be able to contact someone who can give you information. We also assume that you are using the most common configuration or that you know how to adapt to the changes you make.

Each Wi-Fi device, including printers, can support one or more of three different Wi-Fi modes: infrastructure, ad hoc, and Wi-Fi Direct. Infrastructure mode requires a Wi-Fi access point, usually built into the router. The idea is that all Wi-Fi devices on the network connect via an access point. If your network has an access point, this network and all other Wi-Fi devices on the network should already be set to infrastructure mode. Almost all Wi-Fi printers support this mode.

How to connect the printer through an access point

There is almost no need to install drivers on your computer anymore. Current operating systems are pretty good at detecting new printers on the network. Add printer toWindows 10ShortSettings > Devices > Printers & scannersthen clickAdd a printer or scanner. existWindows 11, To goSettings > Bluetooth & devices > Printers & scannersand chooseAdd device

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (1)

(Photo: William Harrel/Microsoft)

Windows will search your network for new printers. If the printer is found, double-click the device in the list to continue the installation process. If your printer is relatively new, it should come with some modern installation option, such as a built-in wizard, manual setup (just need to know your network SSID and password), orEasy Wi-Fi connectionwhich uses a QR code scanned by your phone to complete the setup process.

Other printers may require you to find separate menu options that can be selected and filled in individually. It is now less common for the driver installer downloaded from the manufacturer's support site to enter information into the printer, sometimes prompting you to connect via a USB cable to transfer the settings to the printer.

For the method to use, refer to the printer setup guide. If you have lost the original documentation, you should be able to download a copy from the manufacturer's support site. Regardless of the method, after entering the information required by the printer, it should connect.

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (2)

(Photo: William Harrel/Microsoft)

If for some reason Windows can't find your printer, first try reverting all changed network settings and see if that fixes the problem. If not, you may need to install it manually. To do this, click the buttonThe printer I am looking for is not listedOccurs when Windows completes a search.

You have many options to choose from, some obvious and some not.

  • My printer is a bit old. help me find it.Selecting this option will display the search for printers dialog box. If the printer is not found, you will be presented with several options, many of which are beyond the scope of this simple guide and may require additional information from your home network team or, if you are at work, information from your IT staff.

  • To select a shared printer by name:Each device on your network will have a name given by you, your IT department, or the network itself. You can search for a network printer by entering its name (note the example format in the browse box) or you can leave the box blank and clickscrollView all uninstalled printers.

    Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (3)

    (Photo: William Harrel/Microsoft)

  • To add a printer using an IP address or hostname:This is similar to adding a printer manually. Select these options and clickNextThen enter the printer's hostname or IP address in the dialog box that appears. ClickNextFinish the process.

  • To add discoverable Bluetooth, wireless, or network devices:Select this option and click Next to allow the computer to search for new devices. If the device you are looking for is displayed, double click on the entry to install it.

  • To add a local printer or manually configured network printer:Here we add the printer manually again.

How to connect a printer via Wi-Fi Direct

Some printers allow you to connect directly to another Wi-Fi device for wireless printing. Direct connection in this way requires the printer to support ad-hoc (peer-to-peer) or the newer and easier-to-use Wi-Fi Direct mode. This mode is by far the preferred option for direct calls. Not only is it easier to use, but it also allows you to connect two devices, even if only one supports Wi-Fi Direct.

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (4)

(Photo: William Harrel/Microsoft)

An example of this is the Brother laser printer we tested at PC Labs, which allowed me to establish a secure connection with a Windows laptop simply by enabling Wi-Fi Direct on the printer. I click the wireless network icon on my laptop's taskbar, select my printer from the list of available networks, and enter the printer's password.

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (5)

(Source: Brothers)

When the printer says Wi-Fi Direct is on, Windows can find the printer and install the driver. In most cases, Windows already knows about your printer and knows how to use it or where to find the necessary drivers. Wi-Fi Direct is designed for this type of simple connection, so this should be a typical setup scenario for any Wi-Fi Direct printer.

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Please note that the Wi-Fi Alliance states that if your printer does not support Wi-Fi Direct but your computer (or phone or tablet) does, you can still use Wi-Fi Direct. We promise it will be easy to set up any Wi-Fi Direct connection.

If you must use ad-hoc mode, you can set up an ad-hoc connection in Windows 11 by going toSettings > Network & Internet > Advanced network settings > Advanced sharing settingsand turn onnetwork discovery. The process in Windows 10 is a bit more complicated.

Although the setup process depends on the printer itself, you can usually connect as you would to an access point by entering the SSID and other details in the printer menu.

How to connect a printer to a smartphone or tablet

The way mobile devices access printers has changed dramatically over the last decade. Most printers (or at least printer manufacturers) now provide their own applications. Once the app is installed on your iPhone or Android device, it will find your printer and allow you to print.HP Smart appFor example, it allows you to set up and manage most HP printers,scan documents with camera, print documents and photos,Fax, and more.

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (9)

(Source: HP)

Another option is Apple AirPrint, which makes it easy to print from your iOS devicecompatible printer(thousands of printer models are now supported), but printing must be done via an access point and both devices connected to the Wi-Fi network. Then you can print in compatible applications by selectingPrintand select an available printer. Despite shutting down Google Cloud Print in 2020, Android users stillMopria Printing Services

However, installing applications on a device is now much easier and provides a wider range of functionality. Depending on your printer, Canon, Epson and HP apps also let you edit and enhance your photos with special effects, decorative text, frames and more.

Ready to print? How to connect a wireless printer (10)

(Source: Apple)

There is no one-size-fits-all wireless printing solutionDoYou have more options than ever before. Whether you want to print from your laptop or mobile device to a wireless printer, you probably have several solutions at your disposal. If one method does not satisfy you, you can always try another method.

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