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A printer is a great way to make your home office completely self-sufficient. No more running down to Staples to get some prints made. So, if you just picked up a new printer, you have to get it set up before you get rocking and rolling. Luckily we have put together this guide to make that process easy and straightforward. We have you covered whether you use a wireless or traditional wired printer.

If you connect your printer wirelessly, you will need to take a couple of extra steps. Primarily you will need to connect your printer to the WiFi you are using on your Mac. All printer brands have slightly different interfaces, so when connecting them to your WiFi, we recommend checking the guide that comes with the printer. Also, entering your WiFi password on your printer can be quite tedious, but luckily most of the time, you only have to do it once.

Connecting a Printer Wirelessly

1. Click The Apple Menu

System preferences lets you customize your Mac.

In the top left corner of your screen, click on the apple icon, then select System Preferences from the drop down menu.

2. Printers and Scanners

If you are using an older Mac, you must first click on Hardware and select an option called Print and Scan.

In the System Preferences window, you will see a grid of options. For this guide, click on Printers and Scanners.

3. Add A Printer

Click on the gold padlock and enter your computer’s password to add a printer.

You will see a box off to the left in the Printers and Scanners window. This box may or may not have printers listed in it. To add a printer, click + at the bottom of this box. If you see that the + symbol is greyed out, look for a gold padlock at the bottom of this window.

You may have to click on Add a Printer or Scanner for older Macs after clicking the + icon.

4. Select The Printer you would like to add

If your printer and Mac are connected to the same network, you will see your printer in this list

After clicking on the + symbol, you will see a new window that says Add at the top. Click it, so it is highlighted in blue.

5. Choose The Printer’s Software

Before selecting Add, let’s look at the Use drop-down menu. Here you can choose the software and drivers that your printer will use. The default setting is AirPrint. But depending on your use case, other drivers might suit it better. Below we have put together a list of the three settings you can choose from and which would work best for you.

  • AirPrint: Apple’s native printing technology. AirPrint lets you print from AirPrint-compatible printers via WiFi on Airprint-compatible printers. If your printer is not AirPrint-compatible, we do not recommend using this option.
  • Your printer’s own print driver: If you already have the driver installed, we recommend using this choice.
  • Auto Select: This is perfect for printers that are not Air-Print compatible and you don’t have the printer’s driver downloaded already. Your computer will download the correct driver automatically and update it as needed.

6. Click Add

Your printer will show up in that box on the left-hand side of Printers and Scanners.

Now that we have everything set click Add. Your printer is now ready to use!

Connecting a Printer with a USB

If your printer cannot connect to the internet, you will need to physically connect it to your Mac with a USB cable. Although it is not the most convenient method, a USB is a stable connection. Plus, you do not need to disconnect from the internet to use a printer connected via USB.

1. Click The Apple Menu

Click on the apple icon, and from the drop-down menu, select System Preferences.

2. Printers and Scanners

Those using older Macs must first click on Hardware and select an option called Print and Scan.

In the System Preferences window, you will see a grid of options. For this guide, click on Printers and Scanners.

3. Add A Printer

You may have to click on Add a Printer or Scanner for older Macs after clicking the + icon.

You will see a box off to the left in the Printers and Scanners window. This box may or may not have printers listed in it. To add a printer, click + at the bottom of this box. If you see that the + symbol is greyed out, look for a gold padlock at the bottom of this window. If it is locked, click on it and enter your computer’s password to continue adding a printer.

4. Select The Printer you would like to add

In this window, you will see available printers to connect to. We will be looking for one with USB listed under the Kind column. The Kind column lets you know how this printer is connected to your computer.

After locating it, click on it, highlighting it in blue.

5. Click Add

Now click on Add. Your printer will appear in a box on the left-hand side of Printers and Scanners. Your printer is now ready to use!

Using The Printer

At this point, you have a printer connected to your Mac. There are a couple of settings you can play with to fine-tune your printer. For example, if you double-click on the printer in the Printers and Scanners window, you will see a settings window. Here you will get options like checking supply levels, using generic printer features, and accessing the printer web page. Of course, this does vary from printer to printer.

Even though we don’t like to think about printer problems are bound to come up at some point. So it is important to be familiar with how your printer settings look when it is working correctly. Take a moment after doing a test print to see what these settings are like, or even take a screenshot. It can help incredibly when it comes to troubleshooting a later issue.

We don’t leave it on a sour note, though. So go and enjoy printing to your heart’s content on your Mac!

How To Add A Printer On A Mac, With Photos FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Do I need to uninstall old printer before installing new Mac?

You can have multiple printers connected to your Mac at once, so if you got a brand-new printer, you do not need to uninstall your old printer before connecting the new one. Although, if you are getting rid of that old printer, there is no reason to keep it on your Mac.

Can I uninstall my printer and then reinstall?

If you are having printer trouble, removing and re-adding your printer is an excellent way to see if you can get it working again. It is like turning it on and off again but at a deeper level.

Do my Printers remember what they print?

Just like a computer, printers have volatile memory (like computer RAM), which gets lost when you turn the printer off, and non-volatile memory (like computer hard drives), which sticks around until it’s deleted. So unplug your printer for 60 seconds or more every so often to purge volatile memory.

Is it better to leave printer on or off?

Contrary to other electronic devices, we actually reccomend leaving your printer on all the time. This is because keeping your printer on all the time will keep your print heads cleaner, making them less likely to break.

Do printers hold personal information?

Standalone consumer printers don’t have that much storage space, and your data is wiped when you turn off the unit. All-in-one printers have more internal storage to support the scanner, copier, and fax features, so they might store documents a bit longer, although they probably can’t save many. If you are worried about your printer’s security, unplug the printer for more than 60 seconds, and the storage will be wiped.

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  • How-to Geek Available here: https://www.howtogeek.com/677759/how-to-easily-print-photos-on-your-mac/
  • Mashable Available here: https://mashable.com/article/how-to-add-printer-to-mac
  • Digital Trends Available here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/how-to-add-printer-to-mac/
  • HelloTech Available here: https://www.hellotech.com/guide/for/how-to-add-printer-to-mac
  • Apple Available here: https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/add-a-printer-list-mac-mh14004/mac