How Do I Get My Laptop to Communicate With My Printer?

Updated June 02, 2017

A wireless Windows laptop connected to a network can also connect to a printer. As long as the printer is connected to another computer on the network or installed directly on a router, you can use Microsoft Vista to connect to the printer using the "Add Printer" wizard. After the connection is made, you can print documents and images from any software application.

Share the Printer

Before you can connect to a printer on your network, it needs to be shared. Sharing a printer is done on the machine to which it's connected. In the Windows Control Panel, double-click the "Printers" icon to open a list of printers installed on the machine. A small hand on the icon represents a shared printer. If the printer is not shared, right-click on it and select "Share." This opens a new dialogue box in which you type a share name. The share name is what is displayed and used by other users on the network, so ensure you give it a friendly name that makes it easily identifiable by other users.

Connect to the Printer

Now that the printer is shared, you can link to it from your laptop or any other machine on the network. If you decide to connect the printer directly to the laptop, the same steps can be taken, except the configurations are different. Double-click the "Printers" icon in the Windows Control Panel. Double-click the "Add Printer" icon in the Printers list. This starts the wizard to add a connection to your laptop.

The first step is choosing a local or network printer. If the printer is connected directly to your machine, choose local. Otherwise, choose a network printer. When setting up a local printer, use the default values to connect. The only additional step taken is installing the printer's drivers. The drivers are found on the CD-ROM or DVD that comes with the printer. You can also use drivers downloaded from the printer manufacturer's website.

If you're connecting a network printer, use the path to the printer. The path is formated as: "\computer_name\printer_share_name." The "computer_name" is the name of the computer on which it's connected. The "printer_share_name" is the share name given to the printer. When you connect to a network printer, no drivers need to be installed. The drivers are located on the remote machine, so no other settings are needed.

After setting up the printer, send a test print to the device. This assures you that the printer has been properly set-up.

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About the Author

Lysis is the pen name for a former computer programmer and network administrator who now studies biochemistry and biology while ghostwriting for clients. She currently studies health, medicine and autoimmune disorders. Lysis is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in genetic engineering.