With the advent of plug-and-play wireless networks, no longer does a printer have to be tethered directly to your computer. Whether you’re sharing a printer with multiple computers or you want to be able to print from any room where you’re using a laptop, wireless printing is an easy things to set up.
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Things you need
- Wireless network
- Cables (either Category 5, USB or parallel, depending on your printer and network configuration)
- Wireless print server (optional, depending on your printer)
Understand the different ways to set up wireless printing. Any number of wireless (or hard-wired) users can print by using one of the following scenarios: Printer hard-wired into the network Printer attached to an external wireless print server Printer with built-in wireless networking Printer hard-wired to a computer on the network (this is the best option for older printers)
Determine the best location for the printer. Often the situation dictates this. If there are multiple computers sharing the printer, then convenient placement is best. As long as there is a strong wireless signal available, anywhere is good.
Set up printers hard-wired into the network. If your printer is network-enabled (meaning it has a built-in Ethernet jack), then simply using a Cat 5 cable connects it to the network. Once it’s on the network, all users can easily access the printer.
Use a wireless print server if there isn’t a network jack (or router) available to plug your printer into. These are available for both Ethernet and USB-enabled printers, so this is an extremely common scenario. Before attaching your printer, confirm that the print server is visible on the network.
Set up printers with built-in wireless capability. Make sure you correctly configure the TCP/IP address, subnet mask and router info. Some models allow you to set this up directly on the printer itself, while others use proprietary software or are designed to use a Web browser.
Print wirelessly to a printer that is attached to another computer by enabling Printer Sharing on the host computer. This is the best bet for older printers that are attached via parallel cable. Important note: The host computer MUST be attached to the network!
Add the printer to all the computers. You can use the manufacturer’s CD, but a better bet is to download the drivers from the Web, since up-to-date drivers tend to be more stable. Windows users then can add the printer by going to "Printers" in the Control Panel. Macintosh users add the printer by going to "Printers & Fax" in the System Preferences. (If you’re a Linux user, then you should already know how to add a printer!)
Tips and warnings
- If your printer is Cat 5 compatible, you can connect the printer directly to the wireless router.
- When troubleshooting, power down all routers, repeaters and printers. Confirm that the wireless network is working first, and then see if the printer is visible on the network.
- Plaster walls, fireplaces and built-in appliances are notorious wireless killers. Strive to avoid these things when setting up your network.
- Cordless phones, microwaves and garage door openers can also disrupt wireless signals.
- Always password-protect your wireless network!