Struggling With Getting Your Printer Working?

When you connect a printer to your PC or add a new printer to your home network, you can usually start printing right away. Windows 10 supports most printers, so you probably won't have to install special printer software. But if you need it, additional printer support and drivers are available through Windows Update.

Installing a Local Printer

A local printer means one that is physically connected to your computer with a USB cable, not connected wirelessly.

Step 1 – In most cases, all you have to do to set up a printer is to connect it to your PC and let the plug and play software do its work. Plug the USB cable from your printer into an available USB port on your PC, and turn the printer on. If nothing happens, try restarting your PC with the printer connected.

Step 2 – If the printer does not set up automatically, you will need to do it yourself. Click the Start menu button and head into Settings. Here you need to look for Devices and then Printers & Scanners. You should see a list of available devices, hopefully with your printer name shown.

Step 3 – If so, click on it and then click “Add Printer”. The printer should then be installed and ready to use. If you don’t see your printer in the list, click “Add printer or scanner” and see if the scan finds it. If it still does not appear, click the link that appears “The printer I want isn’t listed”

Step 4 – This opens a tool that will take you through, step-by-step, how to find and install software for an older printer, or one which is not supported with drivers pre-installed with Windows 10. If that still fails, try going to the printer manufacturer website and downloading an installer or drivers.

Install a Wireless Printer

A wireless printer is any printer connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or by means other than a USB data cable. This can also include a printer connected to another PC on the network.

Step 1 – Open the settings and head in to Devices and then Printer & Scanners. Look for your printer in the list of available devices, and if it is there, click on it and then click “Add printer”. If your printer is switched on and connected to the network, Windows 10 should find it easily.

Step 2 – Available printers can include all printers on a network, such as Bluetooth and wireless printers or printers that are plugged into another computer and shared on the network. You might need permission to install some printers, depending on the type of network you are connected to.

Step 3 – If you use wireless access points, extenders or multiple wireless routers with separate SSIDs, you’ll need to ensure that you’re connected to the same network as the printer for your PC to find and install it. If the printer does not appear in the list you may need to add it manually.

Step 4 – Click the link that appears “The printer I want isn’t listed”. This opens a tool that will take you through, step-by-step, how to find and install software for an older printer, or one which is not supported with with Windows 10 drivers. If this fails, try looking for the software on the manufacturer website.

Common Printer Problems

Printers are getting easier and easier to install, thanks to plug and play software, but if you are having problems do these two things first.  

1 Check for Old Drivers

Most printers require driver software to work properly. If you recently upgraded from one version of Windows to another, it’s possible that the current printer driver is for the previous version of Windows and may not work (or work well) with Windows 10. Check Windows Update for new drivers.

2 Run the Troubleshooter

Head in to settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot and run the Printer Troubleshooter. You can also type “Printing problem” into the search box, select the search result labelled “Help from Microsoft”, and then select the troubleshooter to download it.

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Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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