Adding a printer to your laptop can be useful for printing documents, photos, and more whether you’re at home, work, or on the go. This guide will walk you through the process of installing both wireless and wired printers on a laptop running Windows 10.
The basic steps to add a printer to a Windows 10 laptop are:
- Determine if you want a wired or wireless printer.
- Install the printer software and drivers.
- Add the printer in Windows 10 settings or control panel.
- Test a print.
Additional considerations include:
- Connecting to networked office printers
- Printing from Chromebooks and tablets
- Sharing home printers with multiple devices
- Maintaining print jobs and ink levels
Follow the instructions below for your specific printer setup.
Meta description: Learn how to add both wired and wireless printers to a laptop running Windows 10. Follow step-by-step guidance for installing printer software and connecting to home, office, and remote printers.
Choosing Between Wired and Wireless Printers
The first step when adding a printer to your Windows 10 laptop is deciding if you want a wired or wireless connection.
Wired printers connect directly to your laptop via USB, Ethernet, or other cables. A wired connection is generally faster and more reliable. However, it restricts printer placement to within cable range of your laptop.
Wireless printers connect over Wi-Fi without cables. This allows flexible printer placement anywhere within range of your Wi-Fi network. However, wireless can introduce connectivity or speed issues.
For portable use, compact wireless printers are convenient to take on the go. Some hotel room printers are also available wirelessly.
For a home office or dorm setup, wireless all-in-one printers can print, scan, copy and often fax. These allow flexible access from multiple household devices.
For work in corporate offices, large workgroup printers are often networked. This requires installation by your IT staff who will provide connection instructions specific to the office network.
Once you’ve chosen the type of printer that best suits your needs, you’re ready to install it on your laptop.
Installing Printer Software and Drivers
Most printers require software and drivers to enable communication between the device and your laptop. Follow these steps:
- Check printer compatibility
Confirm that the printer and Windows 10 version are compatible. Windows Update can often install basic drivers automatically. But the manufacturer’s software is recommended when available.
- Download the software
Get printer software and drivers from manufacturer websites when possible rather than the included CD, for the most updated versions.
- Run the printer software installer
The installer will guide you through installation and connection options for that particular printer model. The process may differ slightly for each manufacturer.
- Restart the laptop
Once the software is installed, restart the laptop to ensure the drivers load correctly.
The specific connection method – USB, Wi-Fi or network – will determine availability and installation procedure for your printer setup.
Connecting to Wired & Wireless Printers
With software installed, printers can now be added to Windows to enable print functionality. The steps differ slightly for wired USB printers, wireless printers and accessing shared network printers when available.
Wired USB Printers
To add a wired printer connected via USB cable:
- Insert the USB connector into your laptop and printer dock. Windows may auto-detect and install drivers.
- Access Devices and Printers in the Windows 10 Settings app.
- Your new printer should appear here automatically under Printers & scanners. If not, select Add a printer or scanner and follow prompts to add it manually, selecting the correct manufacturer and model.
- Right-click the printer icon and select Set as default printer to enable system-wide access.
To add a wireless printer connected via Wi-Fi:
- Power on the wireless printer and connect it to your local Wi-Fi network using the manufacturer’s setup process.
- Access Devices and Printers in Windows 10 Settings.
- Select Add a printer or scanner. Windows will automatically detect nearby Wi-Fi printers.
- Choose your printer from the list and select Add device. Drivers will install if needed.
- Right-click the printer icon and select Set as default printer to enable access from any app.
If connecting to an existing office or workgroup printer:
- Speak to IT support to provide access on the secure network.
- Access the printer as you would over an office network, by location or IP address. Drivers specific to that printer model are needed.
- IT can guide credentials, permissions and printer selections available to you on their network.
Now that you’ve successfully added a printer in Windows 10, it’s time test printing capabilities.
Testing and Troubleshooting Prints
After installing a new printer, always test functionality by printing a test page or document:
- Open an application like Microsoft Word or Windows Photo Viewer.
- Select File > Print or use the Ctrl/Command+P keyboard shortcut.
- Confirm correct printer is selected as the active printer.
- Print a test page, single page document or photo image.
If issues printing, check:
- Connections: Confirm USB, power and networking cables are securely plugged into both computer and printer. Restart router if using Wi-Fi.
- Default Printer: Ensure printer is set as Windows 10 default in Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners.
- Permissions: For network printers, verify credentials and printing permissions with IT staff.
- Paper: Check that appropriate paper is loaded into input trays based on print job.
- Hardware Issues: Rule out paper jams or other printer errors with manufacturer troubleshooting tips.
If problems persist, uninstall and reinstall the printer following the connection steps in this guide. Contact printer or laptop support professionals for further troubleshooting assistance when needed.
Additional Printer Set Up and Management
With basic printer functionality enabled, explore optional tips for managing printer settings:
- Fine tune preferences like page orientation, color mode, paper size, print order, duplexing, page borders and custom scaling under the printer Properties menu.
- Enable print spooler to queue and batch print jobs more efficiently in Windows, preventing job overlaps.
- Share home printers on a local Wi-Fi network to allow printing access for other household members across multiple devices like smartphones and tablets.
- Set up printer profiles to save customized settings for repetitive print jobs.
- Use manufacturer dashboards to monitor ink levels, order replacement cartridges and customize maintenance alerts. Consider using high-yield cartridges or auto-delivery subscriptions for convenience.
- Enable scanning and faxing on supported all-in-one printers using provided apps from the manufacturer or third parties. Use built-in OCR when available for digitizing physical documents.
- Print remotely when away from home by setting up cloud printing services or connecting through a secure VPN network into a home or work device sharing the target printer.
- Enable Google Cloud Print to print from Chromebooks which lack native printer support. Print jobs will be routed through connected Google account.
Refer to your device or printer support sites for tutorials on implementing these and other helpful printer management features when relevant to your particular setup and usage needs.
The key steps for successfully adding a printer to a Windows 10 laptop include:
- Determining the best printer type – wired, wireless, all-in-one, etc.
- Downloading manufacturer printer software and the latest drivers
- Connecting via USB, Wi-Fi settings or office network credentials
- Adding the printer in Windows 10 Devices and Printers
- Testing initial prints and troubleshooting any connectivity issues
- Optimizing future print jobs with printer preferences and custom settings
Following this process will have you printing from your Windows laptop in no time. Enable printer access across devices and manage print jobs efficiently with additional tips.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I add a wireless printer to my laptop? Power on the printer and connect it to your Wi-Fi network. Go to Windows Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners. Click Add Device and select your Wi-Fi printer from the list. Install any required drivers and set as the default printer.
- Do I need special software to add a printer? In most cases, yes. The manufacturer provides printer software with connectivity components and drivers needed to enable communication between your Windows laptop and that printer model. Always install the software first before adding the device in Windows.
- Why does my laptop not detect the printer automatically? For printers connecting via USB cable or Wi-Fi, Windows should plug-and-play detect once software is installed. For networked office printers, credentials must be entered manually and specific drivers installed before the printer can be accessed.
- How do I download printer drivers? Printer drivers that allow Windows communication with the device are included in manufacturer printer software available on their support websites. Find your exact printer model and Windows version to get the right drivers.
- Why does my wireless printer connect but not print? If you can send jobs but they fail to print, first check hardware issues on the printer like paper jams, empty ink or toner, or other device errors. Also confirm your laptop has the latest printer software and drivers from the manufacturer which can sometimes fix printing issues.
- Do laptops need special printers? No, you can use standard desktop printers. For portable use, compact wireless photo printers and multi-function printers are popular laptop companions while traveling. But any printer compatible with Windows will generally also work with a laptop.
- Why won’t my laptop detect the USB printer? Check that both ends of the USB printer cable are securely plugged into the ports on your laptop and printer dock. Try rebooting both devices or swapping to a different USB cable if connections are good. USB ports can sometimes fail, so try using another available port as well.
- How do I get my Chromebook to print? Chromebooks currently lack native printer support in Chrome OS. Enable Google Cloud Print connected to your Google account. Route print jobs from Chromebook apps to supported partner printers or Windows/Mac computers sharing a physical printer on your network.
- Can I use Wi-Fi Direct to connect a printer? Some printers support direct peer-to-peer connections over Wi-Fi Direct or Bluetooth rather than joining a Wi-Fi network. Consult printer manual for compatibility. Connect in Settings instead of your Wi-Fi settings during printer installation.
- Why does my network printer work but prints blank pages? If able to print but output is blank, the laptop is likely not fully compatible with available printer drivers. Contact IT support to install advanced drivers or printer software if basic Windows drivers fail.
- How do I print remotely when away from my home printer? Enable cloud printing to send jobs over the internet to supported printers. Or log into your home Windows computer desktop remotely over VPN to access networked printers while traveling.
- Can I connect my printer to hotel room Wi-Fi? Some hotels provide guest printing through Wi-Fi Direct or apps that access their networked printers. Alternatively, enable hotspot on your mobile to share cellular data access for portable wireless printer connectivity without hotel Wi-Fi access.
- How do I scan or fax from my Windows laptop? Multi-function printers with scanning and fax capabilities often include apps from the manufacturer for accessing these features from a laptop, wirelessly or over a local network. Complete scan and fax processes from Windows without needing a separate scanner or fax device.
- Why does my laptop say printer is unavailable? For networked office printers, you may lose connectivity when not signed into VPN or connected to the network. For home Wi-Fi printers, confirm laptop and printer are both still connected to the same wireless network and router is powered on.
- Can I add a Bluetooth printer? Some printers support Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi, generally for small portable photo printers. Bluetooth can only connect one device so is not as convenient for home use. Confirm laptop has Bluetooth before pairing.
- How do I share my printer with other devices? For home Wi-Fi printers, enable sharing in printer properties to allow access from all household devices like mobiles, laptops and PCs on the same network. IT support can provide shared network printer access in offices.
- What’s the best free PDF printer software? PDF printing creates digital document files from any Windows application. Top-rated free options include Bullzip PDF Printer, PDF Creator, PrimoPDF and CutePDF. Compare features like bulk printing, OCR support, presets and document security.
- Why does my home printer keep disconnecting? For persistent wireless printer disconnects, try repositioning the router closer for a stronger signal, minimizing interference from electronics and upgrading router if older than 5 years. Or switch to a wired USB printer interface for more reliable connectivity.
- How do I check ink levels on my laptop? Most printer software includes dashboards for monitoring consumables like ink or toner remotely from your laptop. Some printers also support apps to receive status alerts and order replacement cartridges when running low.
- Can I delete the included printer software later? Yes; while useful for installation and troubleshooting, the printer software is not critical for maintaining everyday functionality after adding your device in Windows 10 settings. But don’t disable drivers as these are necessary for actual communication with the printer hardware.
Adding printers to Windows laptops has become a straightforward plug-and-play process in most scenarios with later versions of Windows and modern device standards. Ensure you select a suitable printer type and install all necessary software and drivers from the manufacturer first. USB, Wi-Fi and network connectivity steps differ slightly between printer models so follow manufacturer guidance during setup.
With your new printer now accessible from the laptop, optimize further by taking advantage of maintenance features like ink monitoring, custom print profiles, expanded functionality like scanning and faxing where applicable, and even enabling remote printing while traveling. Refer back to the tips in this guide for managing your home or office printing setup.