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How to Add a Printer to a Windows 8 Computer

Quarrelling printer manufacturers couldn’t agree on how printers should be installed in Windows 8. As a result, you install your printer in one of two ways:

  • Some printer manufacturers say simply to plug in your printer by pushing its rectangular-shaped connector into a little rectangular-shaped USB port on your PC. Windows 8 automatically notices, recognizes, and embraces your new printer. Stock your printer with any needed ink cartridges, toner, or paper, and you’re done.

  • Other manufacturers take an uglier approach, saying you must install their bundled software before plugging in your printer. And if you don’t install the software first, the printer may not work correctly.

Unfortunately, the only way to know how your printer should be installed is to check the printer’s manual. (Sometimes this information appears on a colorful, one-page Quick Installation sheet packed in the printer’s box.)

If your printer lacks installation software, install the cartridges, add paper to the tray, and follow these instructions to put it to work:

  1. With Windows 8 up and running, plug your printer into your PC and turn on the printer.

    Windows 8 may send a message saying that your printer is installed successfully, but follow the next step to test it.

  2. Load the desktop’s Control Panel.

    Summon the desktop’s Control Panel with the tools at your disposal:

    • Mouse: Right-click the screen’s bottom-left corner and choose Control Panel from the pop-up menu.

    • Keyboard: From the desktop, press Windows+I, scroll up to the words Control Panel and then press Enter.

    • Touchscreen: From the desktop, slide your finger from the screen’s right edge inward, tap the Settings icon, and tap the words Control Panel.

  3. From the Hardware and Sound category, click the View Devices and Printers link.

    The Control Panel displays its categories of devices, including your printer, if you’re lucky. If you spot your USB printer listed by its model or brand name, right-click its icon, choose Printer Properties, and click the Print Test Page button. If it prints correctly, you’re finished. Congratulations.

    Test page didn’t work? Check that all the packaging is removed from inside your printer and that it has ink cartridges. If it still doesn’t print, your printer is probably defective. Contact the store where you bought it and ask who to contact for assistance.

    Windows 8 lists a printer named Microsoft XPS Document Writer. It’s not really a printer, so it can be safely ignored.

If you have two or more printers attached to your computer, right-click the icon of your most oft-used printer and choose Set As Default Printer from the pop-up menu. Windows 8 then prints to that printer automatically, unless you tell it otherwise.

  • To remove a printer you no longer use, right-click its name in Step 3 and then choose Delete from the pop-up menu. That printer’s name no longer appears as an option when you try to print from a program. If Windows 8 asks to uninstall the printer’s drivers and software, click Yes — unless you think you may install that printer again sometime.

  • You can change printer options from within many programs. Choose File in a program’s menu bar (you may need to press Alt to see the menu bar) and then choose Print Setup or choose Print. The window that appears lets you change things such as paper sizes, fonts, and types of graphics.

  • To share a printer quickly over a network, create a Homegroup. Your printer immediately shows up as an installation option for all the computers on your network.

  • If your printer’s software confuses you, try clicking the Help buttons in its dialog boxes. Many buttons are customized for your particular printer model, and they offer advice not found in Windows 8.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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