Getting a handle on how wireless printers work can feel overwhelming, especially when technology changes all the time. Can a wireless printer be used with a wired computer?
Wireless Printers can be used with desktop or laptop computers that are connected to your home network via an ethernet cable. However, wireless printers can also can be used to print from any wireless device such as a tablet or even your cell phone.
We are going to look at the wireless printer and compare it with traditional printers and see if buying one is really worth it. Then I’m going to show you how to set up a wireless printer for both Windows and the Mac. As an added bonus, I’m even going to show you how to set it up on your iPad and your iPhone.
What is a Wireless Printer?
A wireless printer is a printer that will allow you to print documents to it without the need of a physical printer cable. This means that you could print from either your Desktop computer or from your Laptop without needing to connect a printer cable to your computer to print. It also means that you could print documents from your iPad (or Android tablet), and even from your iPhone (or Android cell phone).
Is it Worth Purchasing a Wireless Printer Over a Traditional Printer?
The advantage of having a wireless printer is huge, and in my opinion, well worth the money.
Today, wireless printers are pretty much the standard. In fact, you might even have a hard time trying to find a printer that does not have wireless capabilities.
As with all technology, there are good wireless printers and wireless printers that are not good at all. Some really good printer brands are HP, Canon, Brother, Epson, Lexmark, and Samsung.
The rule of thumb is to only purchase a wireless printer from a name that you recognize. If you can’t pronounce the name of the company, I’d stay away from it.
Traditional printers that require a printer cable may be less expensive, (because of the popularity of wireless printers), but that does not necessarily mean that they are better.
It really comes down to personal preference. Do you only want to print from one computer, or would you rather allow for multiple computers and other devices like tablets or cell phones to print from the printer? This really is the deciding factor.
Are All Wireless Printers The Same?
Wireless printer prices can range anywhere from $39.99 to $349.99 for a printer you want to use for home use. For example, the “HP – ENVY 5010 All-In-One Instant Ink Ready Printer” sells for $39.99 at BestBuy, however, if you use it any more than just a few times a month, I would not recommend it because your will end up to 10 pages per minute (ppm) in black and white, and up to 7 pages per minute in color. Also, the color pages we are talking about are not full photograph images either.
What is less expensive up front does not necessarily mean that you will save money in the long run.
Now if your needs were more robust, where you printed documents frequently, (a lot, in fact), you might want to consider a workhorse printer like the Epson WorkForce EcoTank ET-4750 Wireless All-in-One Printer. This printer will print up to 15 pages per minute in black and white and up to 8 pages per minute in color. This printer is for home and small business use but with this one, you won’t have to change printer cartridges for 2 years! https://epson.com/ecotank-super-tank-printers?utm_source=&utm_medium=van&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=us-ecotankkim
Both printers allow for wireless printing, but my point is that just because it is less expensive upfront, does not mean that you will be paying less money in the long run.
First Things First: Plan Ahead
Let’s say that you want to print wirelessly from your Desktop computer. You basically have two options.
- You can install a printer that connects directly to your home router.
- You can wirelessly connect to a printer that is connected to another computer that is connected to network.
Most modern printers will connect to the wireless network in your home, but there are some network printers that can only connect via an Ethernet cable. Older printers, or very inexpensive ones, will probably need to be connected to a computer via USB and then shared on your network.
Now if you have both Mac’s and PC’s in your house that are going to connect to the wireless printer, to avoid complications, you are probably going to want that wireless printer to connect directly to your network router. Just remember that if you choose not to connect your wireless printer directly to your network router, the computer that you do connect it to must always be one in order for every other computer or device in the house, to print to it. Again, this is probably why it’s a better idea to connect your wireless printer directly to your network router.
You will need the name of your network router (SSID), and Network Password
The first thing that you will need to do, is to get your wireless printer connected to your network router. You’ll need to select your wireless SSID (network name) and enter the password if it is secured. What this looks like will vary depending on the brand of printer you are using, so you will want to be sure to read the instructions that come with your wireless printer.
One thing is for sure: You are going to need to use your printer’s display screen and use the instruction manual to navigate from screen to screen in order to enter your SSID, (a fancy acronym that refers to your network name), and then enter the network password. Once you do this, your wireless printer will become “available” on the network.
How to Set Up a Wireless Printer for Windows
Now that your printer is installed on the network, you can easily connect your wireless printer to either your Laptop or your Desktop by following these instructions. As a side note, these instructions will work on all versions of Windows.
- First, let’s open the Control Panel. If you simply click the START button and immediately type, “Control Panel” and hit the ENTER Key, it will come up for you.
- Once the Control Panel dialog box displays, click on “Devices and Printers” or “View devices and printers“.
- Click Add a Printer.
- Select “Add a Network, wireless or Bluetooth printer“. If you are running Windows 8 or 8.1, you won’t need to select anything here because it already does it for you.
- Now you can select your network printer from the list of available printers. Simply follow the prompts that display in order to install the printer drivers automatically.If that brand of your printer is not listed, or if Windows cannot determine this for you, you will need to either download the printer drivers from the manufacturer’s website. This is highly unlikely, especially if you are running Windows 10, but possible. If you find that you have to download the drivers from the manufacturer’s website, simply follow the above steps and when it prompts you for the printer driver, simply navigate to the file you downloaded. Alternatively, if the file you download from the manufacturer’s website is a “Setup.exe” file, it will walk you through the entire process and you don’t need to follow the instructions listed above.
How to Set Up a Wireless Printer for Mac
Again, assuming you have followed the instruction under “First Things First: Plan Ahead”, so that your wireless printer is on on your network, you can connect your Mac or your MacBook your wireless printer by following the steps listed below. These instructions work for all versions of OS X, but your wireless printer must support either AirPrint or Bonjour. That really should not be a concern, as almost every wireless printer already does.
- The first thing you want to do is to click the Apple menu from the top of left hand side of your screen and select “System Preferences“.
- Now click the “Printers & Scanners” option from the System Preferences menu.
- Click the “+” button at the bottom of the list of installed printers.
- Now, select your network printer from the list of printers. If your printer isn’t listed, this is where you may need to download the printer driver (or software), from the printer manufacturer’s website.
- If the Download & Install button appears, click it. Just like Windows, OS X comes offers support for most printers already installed, but your printer may require additional software from Apple. Not to worry, however, because if it is needed, you will be prompted to download it after adding the printer.
Now that wasn’t hard was it? You can now print to your heart’s content 🙂
How to Set Up a Wireless Printer for Your iPhone and iPad
Fortunately for you, setting up a printer for your iPhone or iPad is ridiculously simple, and the instructions are the same for the iPhone and iPad.
- Believe it or not, you start with the app that you want to print from.
- Tap the app’s SHARE icon to find the print option.
- Now tap printer icon or PRINT.
- Tap Select Printer and choose your AirPrint-enabled printer.
- Choose the number of copies you want to print.
- Finally, tap PRINT in the upper-right corner.
As you can see, the wireless printer is a great accessory to have in the house. You do not have to tether it to your Desktop as was the case in the past, and with it, you can print from your Desktop, Laptop, and even from your iPad or iPhone (or Android tablet or cell phone).
Do All Wireless Printers Support Windows and MacOS?
All new models of wireless printers will support both Windows and MacOS. If a CD does not come with the wireless printer, the URL of the manufacturer’s website will be listed in the User Manual for both the Windows software and Apple software.
Where Can I Buy A Wireless Printer From?
You can purchase a wireless printer pretty much any place where printers are sold. It is highly recommended that you buy a wireless printer that you can pronounce from a reputable store like BestBuy or Staples. Online resources would include NewEgg.com and Amazon.com.
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