Printerhacks » Tutorials » How Do I Make My Printer Wireless?
How Do I Make My Printer Wireless?

There are many ways to connect your inkjet, label, or Laserjet printer to a wireless network and make your printer wireless. The price ranges from free to $200 depending on what your needs are. Here are the following options that allow wireless printing. Although convenient, one of the top complaints I receive is “I can not get my wireless printer to print”. Setting up and troubleshooting can be teadous when finding out how a wireless printer works, but generally after everything is connected and setup properly, printing wirelessly isn’t so bad. Clicking on any topic will jump down to a more detailed explanation with various tips, product reviews, and recommendations. If you’re looking to purchase a wireless printer that is also AirPrint compatible, please check out our Airprint printer buyers guide.

There are two main types of wireless printing used widely today. First (and most popular) is using a standard wireless network (802.11b/g). The second is by using a technology called bluetooth. Bluetooth is limited in range, which makes it difficult to share among multiple printers. This article is focused on personal wireless networks since they are more common, easier to configure, and cheaper on the budget (most of the time).

1. Sharing a Printer Connected to a Computer on Your Wireless Network

2. Internet Router with a Built-In USB port

3. Independent Wireless Print Server

4. Purchasing a Printer with Wireless Built-In



1. Sharing a Printer Connected to a Computer on Your Wireless Network

Make Shared Printer Setup

If you’d like to save some money and already have a computer connected to the printer you want to make wireless, this method is the easiest and cheapest. The basic principle is to connect the printer, install the drivers, and share the printer on the network. Other computers connected to your wireless network can print to this device after a proper driver installation. Following the pros and cons, I’ll show you how to setup a printer on a wireless network.

Pros: Sharing a printer on a network is nearly free because most people have all the necessary equipment. Setup is typically easier than other methods.

Cons: Since the printer relies on the computer to connect to the network, if the computer is off, no one can print to that printer using the wireless network.

Mac OS X Printer Setup

Mac OS X (10.5) Leopard / (10.6) Snow Leopard Instructions

Setting up a the Printer

Sharing a printer using Mac OS X is a bit easier than windows.

To setup printer sharing on your computer, first go to the “Sharing” control panel.

Sharing Control Panel

Check the box next to “Printer Sharing”.

Printer Sharing

You should see a message indicating that printer sharing has been turned on.

Make Printer Turn On

Next, open the “Print and Fax” control panel.

Print and Fax Control Panel

Next to the printer icon, select “Share this printer”.

Share This Printer

Installing the Printer on Another Computer

On on the other computer, add the printer by going back into the “Print and Fax” control panel and click on the “+” button.

Adding Another Printer To Share

Then, you should see the newly shared printer in the list of available printers to add to your computer. Click on the printer you wish to add and select, “Add”. You can also add shared printers from a Windows computer here, but that procedure is out of the scope of this article.

Print To Your New Shared Printer

Printing on Windows XP

Windows XP Instructions

Setting up the Printer on a Computer

Setup on a Windows machine can be complex. The following instructions provide a basic understanding on how to quickly share a printer.

Sharing a Printer on Window XP

To begin, open the Control Panels and select”Printers and Faxes”

Printers and Faxes

Select the printer that you want to share and right click on the icon. Then select “Properties”.

Share Your Windows XP Printer

Go to the “Sharing” tab. You may or may not see this screen. If your sharing tab looks like the representation above, select the option that you understand the risks and you want to share you printer (bottom link on picture).

Enable Print Sharing on Windows XP

To keep this tutorial basic, select “Just enable printer sharing”, and press “OK”.

Just enable printer sharing

Now you should see the general sharing interface for Windows XP. Select “Share this printer” and give it a meaningful name and press OK. Ignore any MS-DOS naming error message you receive because few computers use MS-DOS anymore.

View Your New Shared Printer On Windows XP

In the “Printers and Faxes” control panel, you should see your printer with a hand icon over the icon. This means that it is currently being shared over the network (within your workgroup).

Installing the Printer on Another Computer

To start, open the control panels again and click on “Printers and Faxes”. Then select “Add a printer” from the menu on the left.

Add a Printer

Then select “A network printer…” to add the shared printer on the other computer, then click “Next”.

Adding a Network Printer On Windows XP

Next, select “Browse for a printer” so we can choose the correct printer to install, then click “Next”.

xp2_3

Now you’ll need to find the printer by first selecting the workgroup (in my example, it’s called “WORKGROUP”) and then select the name of the computer, and finally select the printer and click “Next”. You may have a strange named computer, but most networks are small and it should be fairly easy to find out which computer is which. If you don’t see your computer in the list, you may need to check and make sure that all computers within the network are on the same domain. Changing the domain of a computer is outside the scope of this article but many resources are available online.

Adding a Domain

Now, the computer will attempt to install the drivers from the other machine. If you’re running a different version of Windows, sometimes these drivers are incompatible (ie, Vista). Click on “Yes” to proceed.

Connect to Printer

Next, make the selection Yes or No if you’d like this new printer to be you default printer in the programs you use in your computer, then click “Next”.

Default Windows XP Printer

On the last step of the wizard, verify the information is correct and select “Finish”.

Finished with network setup!

You should now see a new icon displaying the printer you selected. It should look similar to the picture below.

New Wireless Network Printer

Printing Wirelessly On Windows Vista

Windows Vista Instructions

Coming soon


2. Internet Router with a Built-In USB port

Print Wirelessly with an Internet Router

There are many Internet routers available today that provide additional functionality such as connecting a usb printer or hard dive. With the increased demand of wireless printing, many electronics manufactures are entering into the market and including USB printing functionality with their routers. The following is a list of available devices out today that provide this functionality. Each one seems to have pros and cons, so there is no specific one that wins hands down.

Pros: Integrated devices, possible savings. Typically easier to setup and the router provides a higher range of service allowing you to move further away from your printer and still have the ability to print.

Cons: Printer must be attached to the router, not as mobile.

Wireless Routers

Below are some common wireless routers and what I think of them. I’ve provided a link directly to the router on Amazon should you want more technical specifications or to purchase it.

Apple Airport Express

This dual purpose device can act as a print server or an internet router. Although the expansion is somewhat limited, this small white print server packs many features including the ability to connect a usb hub to the usb port and connect a printer along with storage devices to share. The setup is pretty straightforward as long as bonjour is installed. Vista requires an update, but it should work in Windows XP as well.

Apple Airport Extreme

This router from Apple provides very good wireless range and easy USB printer setup support and is often called the catelac of wireless routers. Using a protocol called “Bonjour”, connecting many types of printers to this router is very easy. Connecting a non-Mac supported printer to this router can be difficult but possible. Also, a Windows based computer can connect to a printer connected to this router. Installing Bonjour (free from Apple) makes it very simple to install a new printer. You must be running Windows XP/Visita/7. An alternate method to connect using windows can be found at Mac OS X hints.

Apple Time Capsule

If you’re looking to do more than just wireless printing, Apple’s time capsule provides everything that the Aiport Extreme offers but with built-in storage. The price is considerably higher, but if backing up files is one of your goals, Apple makes it very easy if your running a few Macintosh computers with OS Leopard installed. Wireless printing is also very similar to the Express and Extreme, so installing a wireless printer on a Windows computer requires a more advanced setup. It is also possible to install a printer that does not have native Mac drivers (for example, the HP LaserJet 2100) by using this hint from Mac OS X hints.

ASUS WL-500W Wireless Super Speed N Router

This compact router from ASUS provides a good balance of price and features. It has a built-in USB port like the Apple products, but the cost is a bit cheaper. The reviews of this router indicate that the range isn’t as much as the Aiport Extreme, but the features of gigabit Ethernet, USB storage and printer support, and external antennas are great selling point of this router. One of the best features not commonly found is the compatibility to put Linux firmware on this router which includes DD-WRT and Tomato.

D-Link DIR-625

D-Link USB printer and storage technology is called “SharePort”. The DIR-625 is D-Link’s entry level router and provides a fair set of features, one of them being the ability to share a printer wirelessly. This router provides 4 LAN ports, an uplink port, and a USB printer/storage port. It also uses the 802.11n draft making transfers much faster if utilizing the storage feature.

D-Link DIR-628

D-Link USB printer and storage technology is called “SharePort”. The DIR-628 is another of D-Link’s entry level routers and provides a fair set of features, one of them being the ability to share a printer wirelessly. This router provides 4 LAN ports, an uplink port, and a USB printer/storage port. It also uses the 802.11n draft making transfers much faster if utilizing the storage feature.

D-Link DIR-655

In addition to the feature set of the D-Link DIR-628, the DIR-655 provides gigabit LAN ports for even faster wired connectivity and an additional antenna for extended range. Besides the hardware upgrades, this router has a better software feature set including better firewall protection.

D-Link DIR-825

The DIR-825 is a small step up from the DIR-655. It’s main feature besides wireless printer sharing is the fact that this router provides QoS or Quality of Service support. This means that certain types of traffic can be given a high priority over other types of traffic. For example, if you use Vonage, it’s important to give the phone the highest priority for the best call quality.

D-Link DIR-855

For those geek enthusiats that require and update on status on demand, the DIR-855 gives you the feature of a large LED screen on the top of the router providing network statistics and current connectivity issues. The price is a little steep, but the cool factor is through the roof with this router.

D-Link DGL-4500

This frag-fest router is targeted at the gaming market. It’s a little cheaper than the DIR-855, but provides the geek loved LED update screen, printer/storage sharing, and best of all, a way to prioritize your gaming (or other) traffic to reduce lag or quality issues.


3. Independent Wireless Print Server

printserver

This is probably the most popular way of connecting a USB only printer to a wireless network. Many manufactures have come out with wireless connectivity devices. These small devices are called (or supposed to be called) a wireless print server or a wireless bridge for printers. The following devices can be used as a wireless print server.

Pros: Generally inexpensive compared to a wireless router or buying a printer with built-in wireless capabilities. Utilizes equipment that you already have. Most of the wireless print servers available today are cross platform (works for Mac and PC).

Cons: Can be hard to configure due to the wireless nature of the print server. May not be compatible with all printers that use USB. Some adapters don’t have the best wireless range which can cause problems getting everything setup.

Apple Airport Express

This dual purpose device can act as a print server or an internet router. Although the expansion is somewhat limited, this small white print server packs many features including the ability to connect a usb hub to the usb port and connect a printer along with storage devices to share. The setup is pretty straightforward as long as bonjour is installed. Vista requires an update, but it should work in Windows XP as well.

Linksys Wireless-G PrintServer with Multifunction Printer Support

This moderately priced print server from Linksys offers a great list of compatible devices and allows you to print, scan, fax, copy and more. Linksys has been know as a brand that is most compatible with a fairly easy setup process.

NETGEAR WGPS606 54 Mbps Wireless Print Server with 4-port Switch

If you’re looking to print wirelessly and want to connect other wired devices such as a computer, additional printers, or storage devices, the NetGear WGPS606 is an ideal way to connect all your equipment wirelessly. The downside to this method of connecting devices to your wireless network is that sometimes there is a bottleneck in network traffic. Speeds are also maxed out at 54 Mbps.

D-Link DPR-1260 RangeBooster G Multifunction Print Server

D-Link competes with Linksys with their DPR-1260 which provides all the main features of its rival with an added bonus, increased range. You’ll need a compatible D-Link wireless router (any that include rangeboost). This gives you additional freedom in choosing where to place your printer.

HP Wireless G Print Server

HP recently came out with a wireless printer kit of its own. It’s only officially compatible with HP printers (most of which are of the LaserJet series). The price is competitive, but the limited compatibility makes this wireless router harder to use for devices that are not HP branded.  If you have a recent LaserJet printer though, this is probably one of the easiest to setup and configure.

More devices coming soon!


4. Purchasing a Printer with Wireless Built-In

wirelessprinter

Many consumers wonder how to setup a wireless printer. There are many different companies today that are offering printers with built-in wireless connectivity. When shopping for a new printer, be sure to look for “802.11″ or “WiFi Enabled”. There are many names when it comes to wireless printing. Here are some examples of some good recommend wireless printers. If requested, in a future update, I’ll talk about how to install a wireless printer.

Lexmark X4550 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printing/Scan/Copy/Print

Lexmark has been making printers for quite some time now. In the past, their business model relied on the fact that the printers would be cheap and the ink cartridges expensive. This model has been changed nowadays due to the decreasing demand for inkjet printers. This all in one printer really has a lot of great features built-in including scanning, faxing, copying, and of course printing. Add built-in wireless into the mix and you’ve got a solid printer. Beware of the ink costs though.

Epson WorkForce 600 Wireless All-in-One Printer (Black)

Epson has also come out with a line of wireless inkjet printers of its own. This all-in-one has the same basic set of features as the Lexmark, but the ink costs a bit cheaper in general. The black color tends to also look a little better since ink can generally get anywhere and everywhere.

Canon MP620 Wireless All-in-One Photo Printer

Canon is also in the game with yet another similar printer with built-in wireless printing. The color ful (yet small) lcd screen provies a quick and easy way to print right from a camera or other device. The cartridge costs tend to be on the higher end, but the quality is very good.

Brother HL-2170w 23ppm Laser Printer with Wireless and Wired Network Interfaces

Brother has recently come into the laser printer market (compared to how long HP has been it in) and provided a unique solution. The HL-2170w provides both wired and wireless connectivity. This is nice for an office that wants wireless, but needs a good backup solution in case the WiFi network goes down or their’s interferience. As a recommendation, if you have the choice of wired or wireless and it doesn’t matter to you, always go with wired. It’s much faster and more reliable.

HP LaserJet 1102w Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer

Whenever you see a “w” on the end of an HP LaserJet series printer, you know it’s got wireless built-in. Although HP wasn’t the first manufacturer to include wireless as an option for its printers, the setup seems to go a lot smoother with HP branded machines. You will pay a bit more for wireless functionality up front, but the savings in repair and toner costs will save you money down the road. So far, this has been the best wireless printer for a Mac.

Got a recommendation or a good solution on making a printer wireless? Please leave a comment and share it with others.

34 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Ricardo (April 15, 2009)

    Hi,
    I’ve found this tutorial but didn’t help with my problem.

    I have a router ASUS WL-500gp connected to an HP printer and would like to connect with my PowerBook G4 to this printer.
    If I go with the Setup Assistant I stop when it asks me the Name or Address of the Network where the printer is. Do I have to put anything before the IP address? I just put 192.168….

    The printer works this way because I managed to configure it in the past. Unfortunaly I had to format the laptop.

    Can you help me?

    • printertech (April 15, 2009)

      You shouldn’t need to add anything before the 192.168.X.X. Technically you could put “http://” before it, but that isn’t necessary on a mac. Getting to know what that address is can be one of the hardest things when configuring a wireless printer. I’m sure if you logon to the ASUS router, you’ll find the address of the printer. Then you can put that address in the laptop and add the printer.

  2. Gabe (May 4, 2009)

    Hi, I am having a problem with connecting a Printer hooked up to a 10.4 mac to a Windows XP using wireless. I spoke with apple care, and they said I should download bonjour for windows, because that is what the mac printer sharing emits. So, I did, and it finds the printer, and everything works fine, but then it says “Copying Files”, and then it stops halfway through, and says “You do not have sufficient access to this computer. Please contact your network administrator.” I am an admin on the mac and PC, and on the PC, mine is the only account. I have a Canon MX330 series printer. Please help!
    Thanks,
    Gabe

  3. Hew Simons (June 17, 2009)

    I have recently switched to ATT uverse from the ATT 2WIRE dsl service. Can I use my old 2WIRE dsl router to convert a printer to a wireless and connect in with my MACs or my new uverse system?

  4. Jessie (October 13, 2009)

    This website would of been very helpful while setting it up, however I’ve already done these steps. I am using Windows XP and the problem I am running into comes when I go to add the printer to another computer. When I click on the printer, it brings up a window for a username and password and I never did make a username and password. How do I turn this setting off so that all computers on the network can connect to this printer without a username and password?

  5. Drakon (February 7, 2010)

    This info was dead on perfect. I connected my new ASUS laptop (with Win.7)to my old (8yr.)HP pc with Win XP Pro the first time around, this saved me alot of time, money and addt.’l hardware. Thank you.

  6. ED (May 14, 2010)

    I have followed the info for windows xp to share my printer with my network that worked fine have the hand under the printer on my pc but my laptop cant find the printer i have a netgear router which laptop is get internet from please help my pc is running xp & laptop is running win 7 please help

  7. Icepup (May 19, 2010)

    Hey,
    I can not get it to work with the sharing of the printers because I can’t find my type of printer on the list, so I don’t know which to type in. I have a HP PSC 2350 Series All-In-One Printer. Could you find the IP address for me?
    P.S. Don’t email me the answer, because i don’t have an email and it is a fake address. Please just reply to me on this page.
    Thanks!

  8. Magda (May 21, 2010)

    very helpful thanks (:

  9. lan netzwerk (August 17, 2010)

    I am looking for a great wirless printer, as I like to print for example from my laptop in the garden. Can you recommend any other printers? Or is this the perfect one?

    • printertech (August 20, 2010)

      The printers recommended in this article are good printers, I recommend clicking on one of the printers and look around amazon. Be sure to check the ratings as well to find the best printer for your needs.

  10. Andrea (January 4, 2011)

    Thank you so much – this information was so helpful, easy to follow and I got my printer set up on the network and can now print from my laptop!

  11. ify (February 22, 2011)

    pls, i hv a P1102w laserjet printer and cannot connect it to my computer using wireless. how can i connect it

  12. Ellen Grable (March 8, 2011)

    Please I am requesting how to set up this wireless printer. I have spent two days and am now frustrated. I have an hp officejet pro 8500A plus I am running xp on my computer. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again, Ellen

  13. Shaun (June 6, 2011)

    HELP!!! :-)
    I have just tried (many times) to make my HP printer wireless by following your instuctions only to get the following message at the end . . . .
    “Printer settings could not be saved. Operation could not be completed”
    SO NEAR YET SO FAR – PLEASE HELP ME :-)

    • Printer Whisperer (June 8, 2011)

      I haven’t come across that error message so I would reset your printer driver by removing it from the printers folder and re-plugging in your adapter.

  14. Shaun (June 6, 2011)

    Addition to above. . . .
    P.S. My operating system is windows XP – many thanks :-)

  15. Karen Mirakian (July 1, 2011)

    I have wireless hp printer ,I am trying to photo copy a ducument what I always did with no problem . but now when i press ok it does not copy and there is a return sighn which does not diappear..frome the window on my printer.

  16. joseph (July 7, 2011)

    thanx….it works

  17. azloafer (July 13, 2011)

    I have two wireless PC’s. I have a printer [not wireless] with both a USB and a Ethernet connection. My Linksys Router has a Ethernet connection. Can I connect the USB from printer to closest PC and the Ethernet from the printer to the router and be able to share the printer wirelessly with a second PC? I’m lost on this one. Help me!

    • Printer Whisperer (July 15, 2011)

      I think you best approach is to connect the printer to your router via an Ethernet cable (if it’s close by). If it’s not, you could connect it via USB to one of your computers and “share” the printer with other computers on that network.

  18. Robert J Rasmussen (July 30, 2011)

    Unlike what I’ve found among the Apple Discussion Groups, this is a very clear cut article on how to set up wireless printing. However, I have one question for anyone out there. Is there such a thing as a USB WiFi adaptor/router with built in antenna (would look like http://www.amazon.com/802-11g-Wireless-Long-Rang-Network-Adapter/dp/B0035H4164/ref=pd_cp_e_4) that could plug directly into a printer and forgo the stand-alone router (e.g. Linksys or Airport Extreme Base Station) and cable?

    You see, the neighbor purchased a MacBook that came with a free printer, but not a wireless one. She wants to leave the printer in the basement and print from anywhere around the house or on the back porch. It would be more convenient and less bulky is such a unit existed.

    Thanks.

    Bob

    • Printer Whisperer (July 30, 2011)

      Although it is technically possible, I have yet to see such a product. Many USB dongles operate this way. Without the support of a manufacturer, like HP, designing something that would work in the manner you described is near impossible.

  19. mark (August 31, 2011)

    computer is hooked up with a usb wireless connection. I want to add a wireless printer and put both computer on pinter on a wireless router to do my printing and internet access . is this possible

  20. John (September 11, 2011)

    Hi,

    I have a wireless printer connected to my router and I am able to print to it from a laptop no problem. Meanwhile I have a desktop pc which is connected to the router via ethernet (distance to router too far for wireless). My question is can I print from the desktop through my ethernet connection to router and so the wireless printer?

  21. noidea (September 14, 2011)

    Hi, I two printers that are not wireless. I have a router that is wireless and I have a laptop that is wireless. My internet connection is a mobile broadband wifi. I have managed to work out how to connect the two printers via network cables to the router(belkin) and can connect to this network via the laptop, But I can not connect to the belkin network and my wifi internet network simultaneously. How do I fix this so I can be connected to the internet and still be able to use my printers? probably really stupid question, I am not really tech savvy! sorry in advance.

  22. Shervin (November 10, 2011)

    I would like to know: “Is there any device like a memory-stick-like WiFi to hook up a printer and needless to any router?” I’ve already a WiMax router that lack any usb port, so it seems that I need a small device to wifi my printer….

    • Printer Whisperer (November 30, 2011)

      A few people have asked about that on this blog, but sadly, no such product exists because the printers just can’t support that like a computer can.

  23. mapesii (November 14, 2011)

    Can I have a printer hooked up to my desktop pc and also share the printer using a wireless print server. I tried using a Linksys wps54g printer server and when I set it up i was able to use the printer wirelessly with my laptop but not my desktop.

    • Printer Whisperer (November 30, 2011)

      I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work. Your desktop should be setup to print wirelessly just like your laptop.

  24. Brenda (January 11, 2012)

    I have several computers hooked up to our wireless router and a printer hooked up to one of our main computers. Everyone can share the printer, however, I have a new computer that loses the printer connection all the time. The only way to get the connection back is to shut the computer off and restart. All of our computers are using windows 7. What do I have connected wrong.

  25. CK (March 20, 2012)

    How do I print wirelessly from my MacBook Pro to an HP psc 2410 printer? I can already print by connecting the printer to my computer via USB, but would like to print wirelessly. How do I get my MacBook Pro (v.10.7.3) to print wirelessly to the printer? I have an HP psc 2400 Photosmart all-in-one printer. Can I use the bluetooth on Mac to print from this kind of printer or is it a hopeless situation? Pls help!

  26. tool reviews (July 25, 2012)

    Hello there, You have done an incredible job. I will definitely digg it and in my view suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this website.

  27. Pat (February 10, 2013)

    I have a brother printer that is not wireless. My office has a linksys wifi set-up. I want to print from an iPad to the brother.
    I bought an apple AirPort Extreme and hardwired it to the brother printer and added the AirPort Extreme to my linksys network.
    I can’t print from my iPad.
    What did I do wrong?



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