Adding a Printer

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 20, 2015)

Many programs that you may run on your system are designed to create output for a printer. Windows 7 can work with a wide array of printers, but you need to direct the operating system to actually use the printer.

It's pretty easy to add a printer to your system; you start from the Devices and Printers screen which is visible when you click the Start button and then click Devices and Printers. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Devices and Printers screen.

There is a good chance that your Devices and Printers screen already shows a number of different printers defined. If you see one that describes the printer you want to use, then you don't need to add a printer driver. (Makes sense, huh?) If you don't see your printer in the screen, then you will need to add the printer.

Windows 7 classifies printers based on how they are connected to your computer. A printer that is physically connected to your computer is considered a local printer and a printer that is not physically connected is generally referred to as a network printer. The steps you go through to add your printer depend on the type of printer you are trying to connect. If you have a local printer that is connected to your computer using a USB cable, generally all you need to do is turn the printer on and then plug in the USB cable—Windows 7 discovers the printer and takes care of setting everything up. If you, however, have a local printer that is connected using some other type of cable, then you'll need to follow these steps:

  1. At the top of the Devices and Printers screen, click Add a Printer. Windows 7 displays the first step of the Add a Printer wizard.
  2. Click the Add a Local Printer link. Windows 7 proceeds to the next step of the wizard. (See Figure 2.)
  3. Figure 2. The second step of the Add a Printer wizard.

  4. Use the controls to specify how your printer is connected to your computer. (This is known as a port in geek speak.)
  5. Click Next. (See Figure 3.)
  6. Figure 3. The third step of the Add a Printer wizard.

  7. Pick a printer manufacturer in the Manufacturer list. The Printers list then updates to reflect printers made by the manufacturer you selected.
  8. Pick a printer in the Printers list. Make sure you pick one that exactly matches your model or is compatible with your model.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Enter a name for the printer you are adding. (Windows 7 suggests a name based on the printer model you chose, but you can change it in any way you desire.)
  11. Click Next. Windows 7 installs the printer driver for the printer model you chose and then moves to the next step of the wizard.
  12. Specify if you want to share your printer with other people on your network. (If you don't have a network, don't worry about this step.)
  13. Click Next. Windows 7 informs you that you've successfully added your printer.
  14. Click Finish.

The other category of printer that can work with Windows 7 is a network printer. The steps to add this type of printer are a bit different:

  1. Make sure that the printer you want to add is turned on and that, if applicable, your computer is connected to the same network the printer is connected to.
  2. At the top of the Devices and Printers screen, click Add a Printer. Windows 7 displays the first step of the Add a Printer wizard.
  3. Click the Add a Network, Wireless, or Bluetooth Printer link. Windows 7 proceeds to the next step of the wizard and starts looking for network printers. (See Figure 4.)
  4. Figure 4. The second step of the Add a Printer wizard.

  5. When Windows 7 has finished searching for available printers, click on the name of the printer you want to add to your system.
  6. Click Next. Windows 7 attempts to connect to the printer.
  7. Enter a name for the printer you are adding. (Windows 7 suggests a name based on the printer model you chose, but you can change it in any way you desire.)
  8. Click Next. Windows 7 installs the printer driver for the printer and informs you that you've successfully added your printer.
  9. Click Finish.

You should note that just because Windows 7 can detect network printers doesn't mean that you will be able to connect to each of those printers. In step 5, when Windows 7 attempts to connect to the printer, it may be unsuccessful if the printer is incompatible with Windows 7 or if there are restrictions on how the printer can be used over a network. If you run into such problems, it is best to talk with your network administrator to get them resolved.

 This tip (10719) applies to Windows 7.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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