Adding a printer can be the most unnecessarily complex and frustrating procedure many users ever experience. Luckily, 80% of the time, it is as simple as plugging in a cable.
If you have a USB printer, try to just plug it in. Your Mac’s operating system has many printer drivers pre-installed, so the printer may simply work without additional effort.
Every time you print a document, your Mac pops open a window for setting printing options. The first of these options is your chance to select a printer. An automatically configured printer will show up in this list. Just select it, and you are good to go. If you want to unlock additional features, such as scanning on an all-in-one printer or ink level monitoring, you’ll still need to install drivers and/or applications from the manufacturer’s website.
If your printer isn’t listed, choose Add Printer from the Printer pop-up menu. The printer setup utility will open and any printers that the computer detects as plugged in or available over the network will appear. (If your printer doesn’t appear, make sure it’s plugged in properly and turned on.) Select your printer and click Add. If you are unable to add the printer, it’s probably because you do not have the correct printer drivers installed, follow the directions below.
If you still haven’t found the printer you are looking for, you’re beginning to understand the “frustrating” point mentioned above. If you just purchased the printer, make sure you carefully followed the instructions for powering on and connecting the printer, and for installing any drivers you may have needed. You may need an updated driver from the manufacturer’s website. Most of the time, the instructions will lead you down the right path and have you printing in no time. (If it’s an old printer with a new computer, don’t use the original printer install CD, go straight to the web for the latest driver. Even with a new printer, there may already be an updated version of the driver on the manufacturer’s website.) If that doesn’t work, read Apple support article HT1465 for more printer trouble-shooting steps.
If you need to add a printer you did not purchase yourself (in an office, for example), things are more vague. First you need to make sure the printer is capable of handling Macs. Ask someone who knows, check the printer manufacturer’s website, usually under “drivers” or call the printer’s manufacturer. Then follow these steps.
- Go to print any document and choose Add Printer from the Printer drop down box.
- A Printer Browser will open, which will (hopefully) find all printers on your network (if they are recent enough). Select your printer. If you don’t see your printer, you should look in the other printer categories like Epson AppleTalk or Windows. In OS X 10.4 Tiger select the More Printers button to see these categories. In OS X 10.5 Leopard, you can browse these categories by clicking the Windows and AppleTalk icons along the top of the window.
- Rename the printer and printer location (if desired) in the field below the browser.
- Verify that Print Using has selected the correct driver. (If it hasn’t found one, you need to install that printer’s drivers from the manufacturer’s website and start over. If you can’t install the correct drivers, you can try a generic driver, if available in the Print Using drop down menu.)