How to add a local printer on your Windows 10 computer, using a USB cable

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:

NOTE: This guide covers how to install a local printer using Windows 10 and the features that are built into the operating system for adding printers. We also cover how to add a local printer using manual settings and how to install a local printer using the software and drivers provided by its manufacturer (read the last section of the tutorial for that). By local printer, we mean the kind of printer 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 Wi-Fi network.

Step 1. Connect the local printer to your Windows 10 PC using a USB cable and a free USB port, and then turn it on

In Windows 10, adding a local printer is often as easy as connecting it to a USB port on your PC and then turning the printer on. If Windows 10 identifies it correctly and finds the appropriate drivers for it, you should see a popup message in the lower-right corner of your screen, acknowledging that.

Add local printer in Windows 10: Setting up a device

As soon as Windows 10 finishes the printer installation, it tells you that the "Device is ready" and that your printer "[…] is set up and ready to go". You can now start using your local printer.

Add local printer in Windows 10: Device is ready

If your local printer did not install, follow the next steps:

Step 2. How to add a local printer in Windows 10 using the operating system's built-in features

To double-check and see whether your printer was installed correctly or to add a local printer manually, open the Settings app. A quick way to do that is to click or tap on the Start Menu's Settings button or to press Windows + I on your keyboard.

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

The Devices entry from the Settings app

Next, select Printers & scanners on the left side of the window to access 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.

Printers & scanners in Windows 10 Settings

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 been installed

If you find yourself in the first situation, 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.

Add a printer or scanner

Windows 10 begins "searching for printers and scanners" and displays all the printers and scanner it finds in a list below. If your local printer is detected, Windows 10 should automatically try to install its drivers. You can follow the printer setup process in the progress bar shown under its name.

A printer is installing in Windows 10

When done, the progress bar disappears. You can then see, in the list of printers and scanners, that the local printer has been added to your Windows 10 PC.

A printer that has been added to Windows 10

If everything works out as it should, you can now use your local printer to, well, print from any app or program (and even from websites). ????

Step 3. How to add a local printer with manual settings in Windows 10

If you have an older printer or a more exotic one, Windows 10 might be unable to identify it and perform the printer installation on its own. In that case, in the "Printers & scanners" section of the Settings app, click or tap on the link called "The printer that I want isn't listed."

The printer that I want isn't listed

Then, Windows 10 opens a wizard called "Add Printer." Here, you have a few different 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 to configure it.

My printer is a little older. Help me find it.

If your computer still does not detect the printer, you should also try the manual settings option. Before doing that, make sure that you read the documentation for your printer because you must supply some details about it.

Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings

Follow the wizard and enter the details requested of you to add the printer to Windows 10. The first step is to choose one of the printer ports available on your PC or create a new one. Once you do that, press Next.

Use an existing port or Create a new port

Then, Windows 10 shows you a list of printer manufacturers and models. These are all printers for which Windows 10 already has drivers. If you can find your local printer, select its model and press Next to install it.

Install the printer driver from a list

If you can't find your printer on the list, but you do have the drivers for it somewhere on your Windows 10 computer, click or tap on the "Have Disk" button instead.

Install the printer driver by manually selecting the driver's location

In the "Install From Disk" dialog, type the printer drivers' location, or press Browse and navigate to where you saved them. After you do that, click or tap on OK.

Choosing the location of the printer driver

Then, the wizard shows you the list of printer drivers it found in the location you specified. Select your printer model and click or tap on Next.

Selecting the printer driver to install

Next, the "Add Printer" wizard might ask you "Which version of the driver do you want to use?" This dialog appears if Windows 10 or you already installed a driver for your printer. Otherwise, it should not show up. If you get this question, you can either choose to "Use the driver that is currently installed" or "Replace the current driver." If you want to continue installing the local printer with manual settings, select the second option.

Use the driver that is currently installed or Replace the current driver

Then, Windows 10 asks you to "Type a printer name." Enter the one you want and click or tap on Next.

Entering a name for the manually added printer

On the next step, enter a few details (name, location, comments) about your local printer if you want to share your printer with your local network. Otherwise, choose "Do not share this printer."

Choosing whether to share the local printer with the local network

That's it: you've now managed to add your local printer to your Windows 10 computer. The wizard tells you that and lets you "Print a test page" if you want. Otherwise, you can simply end the local printer installation wizard by clicking or tapping on Finish.

The printer has been manually installed in Windows 10

What to do if none of the printer installation methods we have shown you work? In that case, or if you also want to get access to all the software and features offered by your printer's manufacturer, you should try the next one:

The recommended method for adding a local printer in Windows 10: Use the printer's setup software and drivers

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 you download the right drivers and software for your exact printer model.

The driver package download link for an HP printer

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 that you must run, named setup.exe or something similar. This starts an installation wizard and, depending on your printer model, you get more or fewer settings and options. For instance, the setup wizard for an HP F4280 printer lets us check the Readme file and Install the printer, but that's it.

The installation wizard for an HP printer

Other printers come with software that lets you 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, and scanning or dialing if you have a multifunction printer. If you get that option, always read what each application does and select only the ones you believe to be useful. Then, go through the printer installation wizard and add it to your Windows 10 PC.

An HP printer is being added to Windows 10

When the local printer is added to your Windows 10 PC, you can start using it as you like.

Do you have any other questions on how to add a local printer in Windows 10?

As you have seen in this tutorial, installing a local printer is easy if you connect it through a USB cable to your Windows 10 computer. However, if it is an older printer, you might have to install it manually. Either way, now you know how to add a local printer in Windows 10. If you have questions, ask below in the comments section. We promise to do our best to help you.

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