How to install a wireless printer in your home network, in 6 steps

If you have a home network, you may need a printer installed. If you are planning to buy one soon, you should consider a wireless printer, as it allows you to print from anywhere in your home, it helps you eliminate one more wire, and it allows you to place the printer in easy to access places so that you are not bothered by others when working or playing on your computer. There is one thing to keep in mind though: installing and configuring a wireless printer requires a bit more work than installing a traditional printer using a USB cable. And this is where this tutorial comes in - to guide you through all the essential steps:

NOTE: This tutorial was created using a Canon Pixma MX535 printer. Even though some of the installation steps can differ between printers, the principles covered in this tutorial remain the same for all wireless network printers.

Step 1. Unpack your wireless printer and place it within your router's broadcast range

First, you have to unpack your printer and then place it somewhere close enough to your wireless router so that it gets a good wireless signal. Also, the spot should be accessible to people using the printer. Pay attention to the instructions from the printer's manual regarding the removal of all packaging and protection. Printers tend to have really rich packaging, filled with stickers, tapes, and other protection features.

Step 2. Turn the wireless printer on and access its network configuration menu

Once all packaging is removed, it is time for you to install the printer and configure it for the first time. You need to connect its power cord and plug it into a power socket, install the cartridge(s) (depending on the manufacturer and model), and turn it on. Then, run its configuration wizard. You might be asked to set the language used through the printer's menus. Also, be sure to wait while the printer cleans and aligns its cartridges.

Before installing the printer on any of your computers or other types of devices, you need to connect it to the network. Look through its menus and search for a menu that is called LAN settings or something similar.

Enter the LAN settings menu, and you should find an option to connect the printer via its wireless network card. Also, depending on your printer model, you might also find an option to connect it via a network cable.

Step 3. Connect your wireless printer to your home network

At this point, there are three common alternatives:

  1. Connect the wireless printer to your home network by entering the network's name, also known as the SSID, and its password, in the printer's configuration options. This choice only works if your wireless printer has a screen and buttons, which you can use to type the network information directly on the printer.
    Select the wireless connection and go through your printer's setup wizard. If you have security enabled on your router, you should be asked to select the network and enter the password (security key). Once you enter all the details, the printer will start the connection procedure. Unless you have a weird setup (e.g., old router, MAC filtering, etc.), the connection should be made in a few seconds.
  2. Connect the wireless printer to your home network by pressing the WPS button on the printer and the router. First, you have to press the WPS button found on your router, to turn on the discovery of new devices. Then, go to your wireless printer and push the WPS button on it too. Then the wireless printer automatically detects and connects to your wireless network, without having to enter the network password or other details. Even if you shut down your printer or your router, they will remember their configuration and will connect to each other as soon as you turn them back on.
  3. There is also another method which you can sometimes use when your wireless printer does not have a display and buttons which you could use to enter the details of your home wireless network, and you cannot use WPS buttons either. Some wireless printers can also connect to your router via an Ethernet network cable. In such a situation, the printer gets an IP address automatically from your router. You can find what the printer IP address is on the router's web administration page. Enter the IP address of the printer in a web browser to visit its web interface. There, look for a settings section called Wireless LAN or similar, and enter the name, password and other necessary details for your wireless network. Note that specific wireless printer models also offer the same settings directly in their driver installation software. If that is the case for your printer, you can also use its software to automatically detect the printer connected to the home network, as well as configure it to connect to the wireless network.

Step 4. Check that the printer is connected to the wireless network

If you encounter issues, check your printer's manual for troubleshooting instructions and also look at your router's configuration for any settings that could block your printer's connection to the network.

To double check that everything is okay, you can ask the printer to print its network configuration details. There you can see important details such as its MAC address, the IP address received from your router and other details.

Step 5. Install the printer on your computers

Now you should install the printer on your computers. You should not have executed any installation/configuration steps on them until now. For your computers to locate the printer over the network and use it for printing, you have to install the printer's drivers and configure them on each computer that is part of your network.

If you use Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, this part of the process should be handled automatically by the operating system. If you use Windows 7, or if your Windows 10/8.1 did not detect and configure your wireless printer automatically, then you can either use your operating system's built-in wizards to add the printer to your computer, or run the printer's bundled software.

If you choose to use the printer's bundled software, follow the installation wizard's steps, but do not forget to choose the option called "Use the printer with wireless LAN connection" (or similar) when asked about the printer connection method.

If you prefer using the Windows built-in wizards to install your wireless printer, follow the steps that we have detailed in this tutorial: How to install a local printer on your Windows computer.

If you choose to use the wizards from the Settings app in Windows 10 or from PC Settings in Windows 8.1, there is nothing different between a network or a local printer. The steps are the same.

However, if you choose to use the printer wizards from the Control Panel, or if you have to do that because you are on Windows 7, the procedure is a bit different. In this case, when the wizard asks you to choose how to find your printer, instead of selecting "local printer" you have to choose one of the options in the list below, depending on what information you know about your wireless printer:

  • "Add a Bluetooth, wireless or network discoverable printer" - this is the first thing you should try. If it can find it in your network, your Windows computer will show and let you install the printer using this option.
  • "Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname" - if you know the IP address or the name of your wireless printer, you can use this option. Enter the information in the wizard, and then Windows starts installing its drivers for you.
  • "Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings" - use this option only if you are an experienced user and you know the exact port and driver that your wireless printer is going to use on your Windows computer.

Step 6. Install the printer on your smartphone(s) and tablet(s)

If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can print wirelessly from them too. Look for printing applications from the manufacturer of your printer. For example, Canon has a free application called Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY that is available both for iPhone and Android.

Other manufacturers such as Epson or Brother also provide similar free apps.

Conclusion

As you can see, installing a wireless network printer requires quite a bit of time and work. Also, you must be careful not to miss any steps or essential configuration items. However, the time saved when using the wireless printer pays off. Being able to print from anywhere in your home, at any time, really helps improve your productivity.