How to Add a Printer in Windows 10

By Andy Rathbone

Quarrelling printer manufacturers couldn’t agree on how printers should be installed. As a result, you install your printer in Windows 10 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 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 up and running, plug your printer into your PC and turn on the printer.

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

  2. Load the Control Panel.

    Right-click the Start button and choose Control Panel from the pop-up menu.

  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 Properties, and click the Print Test Page button. If it prints correctly, you’re finished. Congratulations.

    Test page didnt 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.

    To print your documents to a file that you can e-mail to nearly anybody, choose Print As a PDF. That saves your printed, formatted file as a PDF file, a format that’s accessible with nearly every type of computer, smartphone, or tablet. (If somebody can’t read it, tell them to download Adobe Reader.)

That’s it. If you’re like most people, your printer will work like a charm.

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 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 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.