How to Set up Printer Network in Windows

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Once upon a time, installing a printer involved plugging it into your PC, installing the drivers, printing a test page and riding into the sunset, print in hand. If you want to give other computers in your household access to the printer, you share it through your primary PC.

Setting Up a Printer Network in Windows
Setting Up a Printer Network in Windows

However, the proliferation of affordable network printers – especially wireless – means that anyone can access your printer anytime from anywhere in your home. In theory. In practice, judging by the number of emails we've received over the years, it can often be a confusing process.

Set up Printer Network in Windows 

Luckily, you can distill the process into a few easy steps, which should work for most wireless (and Ethernet) printers out there. Read on below for How to set up a printer network in Windows to find out how to turn the frustrating setup process into something simpler.

1. Connect the wired printer to the network

First things first, you need to physically connect your printer to your network. If connected via an Ethernet cable, plug the cable into your printer and plug it into your router or switch (if your printer is too far from the router, consider investing in a HomePlug starter kit.

2. Connect the wireless printer

If your printer and router both have a WPS button, then the simplest thing is to turn on your printer and press the WPS button on it.

Next, switch to your router and press the WPS button on it within two minutes of pressing the first button. Check your printer manual or quick setup guide to see what confirmation you will receive that the printer is connected.

3. Use the control panel

If your printer has a control panel, you should be able to use this to manually connect to your router.

Set up Printer Network in Windows
Set up Printer Network in Windows

Look for the Settings or Network menu, then look for the wireless settings option. Follow this until it first detects and selects your Wi-Fi network if it appears (look for the option to enter it manually otherwise), then enter your router's WEP key or WPA passphrase to connect.

4. Connect (temporarily) via USB

You should be able to connect the printer to your network via your PC if necessary – you will need a USB cable.

Don't connect right away; instead download the latest version of the printer software from your manufacturer and follow the setup wizard, connecting when prompted.

Look for connection-related options – make sure to select the ‘Wireless’ option.

5. Done USB-based install

Complete the setup process – if the printer is unable to determine your wireless settings automatically (likely if your PC is connected to your network via an Ethernet cable), you will be prompted to enter this manually or use a wizard to select your Wi-Fi network from the list before entering passphrase or key to complete the connection.

6. Install the factory driver

If you connect your printer to the network without having to download any software, you now have two choices about adding the printer to your PC.

The preferred approach is to look for drivers and software directly from the manufacturer, either by using the printer's CD or by visiting its website for the latest version – search for your printer under 'Support' or 'Downloads.

7. Install via Windows

If you only need basic functionality, or Windows 10 drivers are not available from your manufacturer, make sure they are turned on, then click on 'Start > Settings > Devices', then click on 'Add printer or scanner' and wait for Windows to search.

Your printer will appear if it is connected to a network, so select it and follow the prompts to complete the basic driver installation.

8. Find compatible drivers

If Windows can't find the driver, revisit your manufacturer's website and look for a driver from an earlier version of Windows.

If there are separate 32-bit and 64-bit drivers, select the version that matches your system (right click 'Start' and select 'System' to get this). Download and run the setup process – you don't need to use 'Compatibility' mode.

Thus the tutorial on How to set up a network printer in Windows. Hopefully all of the above information can be useful and help solve the problems of friends around the printer. Good luck, good luck!

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