How to set up a wireless printer

Wireless Printing IconThe popularity of wireless printers has greatly increased over the last few years, mostly due to the fact that printers are easy to share and can reside just about anywhere you wish. With the number of mobile devices out there like tablets and smartphones, you now have the power to printer from nearly anywhere, as long as you are in the bounds of your Wi-Fi, of course. Most printers these days are very easy to install and setup, even as a wireless unit, but we have a few tips and tricks to help things run as smooth and as quick as possible.

Getting started
Assuming that you have your wireless network running , the two pieces of information that you will need to start installing a printer are called the SSID or wireless network name, and the password if the network is secured (as they should be). If you need help with finding these items, see “Finding Your SSID and Password” at the bottom of this article.

Location, location, location
The big limiting factor in installing a wireless printer is whether it will be able to receive a wireless signal where you want to put it. What we suggest is take some form of Wi-Fi capable device (many smartphones are great for this task), disconnect from the Wi-Fi network and bring the device to the exact spot you want to keep your printer. If your device can see the wireless network and has a good signal, you are good to go. If the signal is dodgy or non-existent, you may want to either reconsider where you are placing your printer, or you may want to see if you can put the router in a more central location.

Optimizing your router's placement

 

Any large metal objects, including building elements such as girders and even screen doors or windows, will interfere with the wireless signal. Some older buildings like farmhouses may even use materials like chicken wire in the plaster which blocks wireless signals near completely.  Even too many closed doors or walls will degrade the signal. If your wireless signal is weak or intermittent, move the printer closer to your wireless router and avoid obstructions.  If you need to expand your network, there are wireless signal boosters which plug into the wall and act as repeaters, expanding the signal from one end of the office or house to another. If you need help, you can get a hold of our sister company Northampton Computer Repair to help you with a site survey to figure out the best placement for your wireless devices

Few printers need to ever connect to the computer directly (typically only older units with no LCD display on the printer), so most printers can be set up in their final location. If your printers directions indicate the printer needs to be hooked up to the computer first to install the software, you may have to place the printer temporarily near a PC that’s already connected to your home network, so you can continue with the installation.  If you have a laptop, you can bring the computer to your printers location and set it up that way.
In the long term, your placement options are very flexible.

Connecting your printer
Once you have you printer location figured out, it is time to unbox it and set it up. placed Printers with LCD control panels usually let you configure the wireless connection directly from their internal menus. The printer will detect networks within range; you then select your network and enter the password, and you’re good to go.  Many printers allow you to attach the printer to the router via wired connection or “ethernet“, you can configure the wireless using a Web browser. Other older printers may need to be directly connected to a computer via USB cable for the wireless setup as we mentioned before.

Automated Installation (More or Less)
Once you have the printer connected to the network, you can run the disk that came along with the printer on your computer to install the drivers and extra software.  If you don’t want the extras and just want the printer to print without installing more software, see the next step on installing the printer manually.

Manual Installation
Some users want to limit the number of pieces of software they install on their machine.  For those users you can avoid all the extra programs that the automated install includes by manually installing the printer. A note to make things easier: Windows 8, 7 and Vista all ship with many printer drivers. If you encounter problems printing, please download the latest drivers from the vendor and install them before reporting issues. In cases where “certified” Windows 8 and Windows 7 drivers are not available, try using the equivalent Vista drivers.

Windows 8 Logo

If you’re trying to add a network printer at the office, you’ll usually need the name of the printer. If you can’t find it, contact your network administrator.

Open the classic Control Panel (open the Metro Control Panel and scroll to bottom, then click on More settings) and go to Hardware and Sound
Click Add a device or printer.
On the right will be a list of devices you computer has detected on the network.  If it is able to see your printer, it should be listed on this panel.
Select the printer you want to use, and then click Next. (If your computer is connected to a network, only printers listed in Active Directory for your domain are displayed in the list.)

If prompted, install the printer driver on your computer by clicking Install driver. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Complete the additional steps in the wizard, and then click Finish.

win7logo

  1. Start Control Panel Devices and Printers Add Printer  This brings up the Add Printer Wizard
  2. Select Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer
  3. Windows will search the network for available printers and list them as they are discovered. If you have the IP address of the printer you want to install, simply double-click on the printer name. If Windows does not have a driver available for the printer, you will be prompted for a driver.
  4. If you just can’t wait, or the printer you are interested in was not listed, you can select “The printer that I want isn’t listed”. This will allow you to specify the IP address of the printer you are trying to install. You should be able to complete the install from this point.
  5. You will be prompted to rename the printer, enable sharing and set the printer as the default system printer. It is recommended that you do not share the printer.
Windows Vista Logo

Windows Vista

  1. Open Printers by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Hardware and Sound, and then clicking Printers.
  2. Click Add a printer.
  3. In the Add Printer Wizard, select Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.
  4. In the list of available printers, select the one you want to use, and then click Next. If your computer is connected to a network, only printers listed in Active Directory for your domain are displayed in the list.
  5. If prompted, install the printer driver on your computer. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  6. Complete the additional steps in the wizard, and then click Finish.

Windows XP Logo

  1. Go to Start → Control Panel → Printers and Faxes → Add Printer
  2. Make sure the printer is On and Ready, and connected to the network.  Click Next to start the wizard and then select A Network Printer, or Printer Attached to Another Computer. Click Next.
  3. Select Browse for Printer and click Next again. Select the wireless printer you want to install in the list of found printers and click Next. If your printer is not visible in this menu, it may not be connected to the network properly.
  4. A Connect to Printer dialog box will open. If it asks you for a driver, you may need to insert the CD or the printer and find the driver on the disc.  If this is the case, many users may want to opt to exit out of the wizard and just install the drivers and software from the software provided by the printer manufacturer.  Click Yes and finish the wizard.

Finding Your SSID and Password
The easiest way to find your network name and password is through a currently connected laptop or mobile device. In Windows 7, left-click the wireless-connection icon in the system tray. Assuming you’re not inadvertently stealing your neighbor’s bandwidth, the name of the current connection should be your network name. Right-click over the current connection, select Properties, choose the Security tab, check Show characters, and you’ll see your password.

You can also look up the network name and password in the wireless router’s Web configuration pages. Open a browser and type in the IP address of your wireless router into the browser’s address field. You can find the default IP address in the manual, but some of the more common ones are 192.168.1.254 (ATT 2Wire) and 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 (Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, and the like).

Note that the router has a user name and password, as well. If you never changed your router’s user name and password, check the documentation for the default settings or check for your routers default information at RouterPasswords.com.
In some cases the wireless password isn’t shown unfortunately. If you really can’t remember it and no one else knows it, you’ll need to change it and have everyone on the network reconnect with the new password.

Know Your Network, and the Installation Will Follow
Most of the snags that arise when you set up a wireless printer have to do with the wireless network rather than the printer itself. Collect your network’s information ahead of time to avoid getting stuck. Then enjoy sending a print job from your bedroom to the living room — it’s pretty awesome.

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4 thoughts on “How to set up a wireless printer

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