How to install a local printer on your Windows computer

Printers are a familiar presence in homes and offices all over the world. To be able to print anything on your printer, you must connect it to your computer and install it. The most common way to do that is by using a USB cable. If you do not know how to do it, this guide is for you: we show how to set up a local printer on any Windows computer, using a USB connection. Let's get started:

IMPORTANT: This guide covers how to install a local printer using Windows and the features that are built into the operating system, for adding printers. We first cover Windows 10, then Windows 7, and then Windows 8.1. Last but not least, we give guidance on how to install a local printer using the setup program provided by its manufacturer. By local printer we mean the kind of printer that you connect directly to your computer through a USB cable. If you have a wireless printer, you should read this guide: How to Install a Wireless Printer In Your Home Network.

How to install a local printer on your Windows 10 computer, using built-in wizards

In Windows 10, adding a local printer is, most times, as easy as connecting it to a USB port on your PC and then turning the printer on. To see whether it was installed correctly, or to install a local printer using a parallel port, open the Settings app. A quick way to do that is to click or tap on the Settings icon from the Start Menu.

In the Settings app, open the Devices section. You can notice that the subtitle says "Bluetooth, printers, mouse." The printers are the part that interests us.

Next, select Printers & scanners on the left side of the window and look at the section with the same name on the right. There you see the printers that are already installed by Windows 10. Some are virtual printers, like software converters to the PDF format, or screenshot capturing apps like Snagit.

Now there are two possibilities:

  • The printer that you connected to the computer has already been installed by Windows 10, or
  • The printer that you connected has not already been installed

If you find yourself in the first situation, then you are done: go ahead and use your printer. If you find yourself in the second situation, you do not see your printer displayed. Turn on the printer, and then click or tap the "Add a printer or scanner" button.

Windows 10 begins "searching for printers and scanners" and displays everything it finds in a list below. If it finds your local printer, click or tap on it.

Then, click or tap on the "Add device" button.

If your Windows 10 computer does not detect the local printer, click or tap on the link that says "The printer that I want isn't listed".

Windows 10 opens a wizard called "Add Printer". Here you have a few different options. They include options for adding network printers, as well as local printers. As you want to install a local printer, choose the option that says:

  • "My printer is a little older. Help me find it.", or
  • "Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings"

We recommend you choose the first one, and leave the wizard to search for your printer. Then, follow the wizard's instructions and the printer is configured.

However, if your computer still does not detect the printer, you should also try the option that lets you choose manual settings. However, before doing that, make sure that you read the documentation for your printer, because you have to supply details about it.

Follow the wizard and enter the details that are requested of you.

How to install a local printer on your Windows 7 computer, using built-in wizards

In Windows 7, to install a local printer, connect it to one of the available USB ports and wait for a little while. The printer should be detected and installed automatically by the operating system.

To see if the printer has been installed automatically, use the Control Panel. Open the Start Menu and then click on the Control Panel shortcut.

Inside the Control Panel, open the "Hardware and Devices" and then click on "Devices and Printers."

If the printer has been installed automatically by Windows 7, it should be displayed in the Printers section.

If the printer has not been identified and configured automatically by your Windows 7 computer, click the "Add a printer" button from the top side of the window.

Then click or tap on the "Add a local printer" button and enter the printer's configuration settings manually, just as they are detailed in its documentation.

Follow the wizard, enter the details that are requested and you should be OK.

How to install a local printer on your Windows 8.1 computer, using built-in wizards

In Windows 8.1, local printers that you connect via USB cables to your computer, are detected and installed automatically. However, if yours is not, or if you use a local printer that you connect via a parallel port for instance, the easiest way to install it is through the PC Settings. Connect the printer to your computer, open PC Settings, and click or tap "PC and devices" on the left.

Now select Devices on the column on the left side of the screen.

On the right side of the screen, you should see the printer listed in the Printers section, if it was already detected and configured by Windows 8.1.

If that did not work, or if you are a more conservative user, you might prefer using the old Control Panel.

Open the Control Panel and navigate to "Hardware and Sound" and then to "Devices and Printers." If the printer has been detected by your Windows 8.1 computer and it has already been configured, you should see it displayed in the Printers section.

If your printer was not set up and correctly identified, you can install it manually by clicking (or tapping) on the "Add a printer" button from the top of the window.

Then, follow the steps of the installation wizard to install your printer. However, if it is not found by your Windows 8.1 computer, click or tap on "The printer that I want isn't listed."

Select the option that says "Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings" and enter the configuration details of your printer manually.

You should probably read the printer's documentation to see exactly what settings you must make to install it manually.

How to install a local printer on your Windows computer, using the printer's setup software

If your printer came with its setup software, you might prefer using it to install your printer. This kind of software usually has additional tools, depending on your printer model. Get the media (CD or DVD) and insert it into your DVD reader, or go online and download the drivers from your printer manufacturer's website. If you go for the latter method, make sure that you download the right drivers and software for your exact printer model and operating system.

Here is a list of drivers web pages for some of the most popular printers: Brother, Canon, Epson, HP, Samsung.

Usually, both on optical media or when you download printer software, you get an executable file which you must run, named setup.exe or something similar. This starts an installation wizard and, depending on your printer model; you can get more or fewer settings and options. For instance, the setup wizard for our Canon Pixma MX535 lets us choose the language, select the place of residence and, most importantly, choose the software that is going to be installed. Besides the drivers, printer setup wizards also usually bundle other applications for configuring the printer, personalizing prints, but also for scanning or dialing if you have a multifunction printer.

Always read what each application does and select only the ones that you believe to be useful.

Conclusion

As you have seen in this tutorial, installing a local printer is easy if you connect it through a USB cable to your Windows computer. However, if it is an older printer or if you connect it to your computer through a parallel port, for instance, you might have to install it manually. Either way, now you know how to install a local printer. If you have questions, ask below, in the comments section. We promise to try to do our best to help you.