How to Connect and Add Your Printer in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Connect and Add Your Printer in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

Before you can even think about printing something, you have to connect a printer to your Mac and tell OS X Mavericks that the printer exists.

How to connect your printer in OS X Mavericks

You could connect your Mac to thousands of printer models, and each one is a little different from the next. In other words, if what you’re about to read doesn’t work with the printer you’re trying to connect, RTFM (Read the Fine Manual). It should tell you how to load your ink or toner cartridges.

That said, here are some very general steps to connect a printer to your Mac:

  1. Connect the printer to your Mac with the cable snugly attached at both ends (printer and Mac).

    For your printer to work, you have to somehow connect it to a data source. (Think of your phone — you can’t receive calls without some sort of connector between callers.)

  2. Plug the printer’s AC power cord into a power outlet.

    Yup the regular kind of outlet in the wall; on a power strip; or, best of all, on a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). Some printers require you to plug one end of the AC power cord into the printer; others have the AC power cord attached permanently. The point is that your printer won’t work if it’s not connected to a power source.

  3. Turn on your printer.

    Look in the manual if you can’t find the power switch.

  4. If your printer came with software, install it on your Mac, following the instructions that came with the printer.

  5. (Optional) Restart your Mac.

    You need to do this only if you had to install software and the Installer told you to restart.

How to set up a printer for the first time in OS X Mavericks

After you connect your computer and printer, provide a power source for your printer, and install the software for your printer, you’re ready . . . to configure your Mac. You have to do that so your Mac and your printer can talk to each other.

Many, if not all, of the steps involving the Printers & Scanners System Preference pane require that your printer be turned on and warmed up (that is, already run through its diagnostics and startup cycle) beforehand. So before doing anything else, make sure your printer is turned on, warmed up, and connected to your Mac.

The first time you connect your printer, you may see an alert asking whether you want to download and install software for your printer. For this example let’s use an Epson Workforce 845 printer.


You do, so click the Install button. At this point, you may see a License Agreement window. If so, click the Agree button to proceed. (You may click Disagree if you wish, but that halts the installation process.)

After clicking the Install and Agree buttons, a Software Update window may appear and tell you it’s finding software. If it does, just leave it alone; it disappears after a minute or two. Don’t click the Stop button unless you want to abort the installation.

If you’ve connected a new printer and didn’t see an alert 1, it’s not an issue; just follow the upcoming instructions.

Here are the steps to set up a printer for the first time:

  1. Launch System Preferences, click the Printers & Scanners icon, and then click your printer’s name in the Printers list on the left side of the window.

    You can open System Preferences from the app menu, or launch it from the Applications folder, Dock, or Launchpad.

    Mavericks is a pretty smart cat; it should have already recognized your printer at this point. If so, your printer’s name appears in the Printers list of the Printers & Scanners System Preferences pane. You can name your printer anything, such as Epson WorkForce 845.


    If your printer isn’t in the list at this point, click the + button at the bottom of the Printers list and either select it from the list of nearby printers or choose Add Other Printer or Scanner.

    If you still can’t “see” your printer, you probably need to install (or reinstall) its driver software manually, either from the CD or DVD that came with the printer or by downloading the latest driver software from your printer manufacturer’s website. See the nearby sidebar “Go for a driver” for more on drivers.

  2. Select the printer you want selected by default when you print documents from the Default Printer pop-up menu .

  3. Select the default paper size you want to use with this printer from the Default Paper Size menu (usually us Letter if you live in the United States).

    That’s all there is to it. Close System Preferences, and you’re ready to print your first document! Before you do, however, make sure you have the document set up to look just the way you want it to look printed. Read through “Set: Setting Up Your Document with Page Setup” for more info.