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How to Connect Your Surface to a Printer

Microsoft Surface tablets running Windows 8 Pro can connect with just about any printer that works with your desktop PC. Surface tablets with Windows RT, by contrast, are pickier about their printers. They only allow drivers to be installed through Windows Update, which means you can’t simply run a printer’s installation program. Many newer printers work, but you may have trouble connecting with older printers.

Most printers connect either through a USB port or through a wired-or-wireless network.

  • USB: The simplest way to connect with a USB printer is to plug the printer’s USB cable directly into your Surface’s USB port.

  • Network and wireless: After you create a network, your Surface has access to all the printers shared on that network.

To see if your Surface recognizes a networked printer, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Charms bar by sliding your finger inward from the screen’s right edge.

  2. Tap the Settings icon; when the Settings pane appears, tap the words Change PC Settings.

    The PC Settings screen appears.

  3. Tap Devices from the PC Settings screen.

    The PC Settings screen shows every device attached to your printer. They’re listed alphabetically.

Not every Start screen app can print, and there’s no way to know if your app is printable until you try. So, open any Start screen app and try to print by following these steps:

  1. From within any app, open the Charms bar by sliding your finger inward from the screen’s right edge and then tap the Devices icon.

    The Devices pane appears, listing all the devices capable of working with your app. If you see a printer listed, move to step 2. No printer listed? Your app isn’t able to print, unfortunately.

  2. Tap the desired printer’s name and make any final adjustments.

    The Start screen’s Printer window sums up exactly what’s going to the printer. It shows a preview and the number of pages required. To see all of the pages you’re printing, slide your finger across the preview image from right to left.


    To see even more options, tap the More Settings link. There, you can choose the type of printer paper you’ve using, an essential step when using photo paper on a color printer.

  3. Tap the Print button.

    Your Surface sends your information to the printer. But the Start screen’s emphasis on speed leaves out some details:

    • Many apps can’t print. You can’t print a day’s itinerary from your Calendar app, for example, or even a monthly calendar.

    • When printing from the Start screen’s Internet Explorer app, you’re stuck printing the entire web page—advertisements, comments, and everything in between. There’s no way to print selective portions.

    • If you need more control over your print jobs on a Surface with Windows 8 Pro, head for the desktop and its cadre of more full-featured programs. Windows RT tablets, unfortunately, don’t offer more printer controls on the desktop.

    • If your Surface with Windows RT tablet can’t print to a networked printer, try plugging the printer directly into your Surface. If the Surface recognizes the printer when plugged in directly, your Surface may also recognize the printer when it’s plugged back into the network.

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