Setting up a home printer is much easier than it used to be – especially if you’re just connecting it to a PC via USB. Network printers – wired and wireless – can be a little more challenging, though most people shouldn’t have problems. This guide walks you through the steps for setting up either type of printer.

Before getting started, you’ll need a printer, a computer, a A USB cable (for a USB printer), an Ethernet/LAN cable (for a wired network printer) or a wireless access point/router (for a wireless printer).

Setting up a USB printer

 

A USB connection is ideal if computer and printer are located close to each other, or when the printer doesn’t need to be shared by PCs in different locations.

1. Install the components and power on the printer

Following the steps in the quick start manual that came with your printer, remove the packaging, install the toner or ink cartridges and put paper in the feeder or tray. Then plug the printer into a power socket and turn it on.

2. Once the printer is powered on, connect it to the computer using a USB cable

Your computer should automatically detect that a new device has been connected, and it will start to install the drivers.

If there are drivers built into your operating system, you may not have to do anything at all after this, but most likely an ‘Add New Hardware’ Window will pop up. When it does, insert the driver CD that came with your printer.

3. Install the driver

Follow the steps in the driver setup dialogue box to install the drivers for your printer.

4. Test the printer

Open the Windows Control Panel (click on Start > Control Panel). Now click on “Printers” (in Windows XP/Vista) or “View Devices and Printers” (in Windows 7). An icon representing your newly installed printer should be present. Right-click on the icon and select ‘Properties’ (in XP/Vista) or “Printer Properties” (in Windows 7).

A new window will appear. Click on “Print Test Page” to print out a sample page. If it works, you should then be able to print from any program you run on your PC.

Setting up a wired or wireless network printer


1.  Install the components

Following the steps in the quick start manual that came with your printer, remove the packaging, install the toner or ink cartridges and put paper in the feeder or tray.

2.  Find out your wireless network settings (wireless only)

Before you can set up a wireless printer, you need to know the SSID (the unique name for a wireless network; it’s how you pick out your network from any other overlapping wireless networks) and password for your wireless access point or router. These will be the same ones you use for your wireless computers. Without these details, you won’t be able to configure your printer to connect to your wireless network.

3.  Connect the printer to your network (wired only)

Using an Ethernet cable, connect the printer to your network switch or router. The Ethernet cable plugs into the network port on the printer and any one of the LAN ports on your router/switch. The LAN port is the same type of port that a regular computer plugs into on the switch. A common modem router (such as a typical ADSL router) has four such ports.

Most ADSL modem/routers have four LAN ports for connecting printers and computers via Ethernet cable. All devices plugged into the modem/router can share information and connect to the Internet. In wireless networks, a ‘wireless access point’ serves the same function, but without the need for Ethernet cables.