Adding Wireless Printers to Mac Computers

Dorian Smith-Garcia Profile image

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Updated June 27, 2022

Sometimes it feels like you need a Ph.D. to pair tech devices. And never is this truer than with printers. Thankfully, if you own an Apple computer, their user-friendly interface makes adding a new printer to your computer easy — especially if it’s a wireless printer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of connecting your high-quality printer wirelessly to your computer, keep reading.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Macs can often automatically detect printers once connected to the same network
  • Follow the system prompts to connect your printer to the Mac
  • For the first pairing, you may need to use a USB cable to manage printer setup

Adding Printers via WiFi

If your Mac and printer are both using the same WiFi network, this is going to be the easiest way to connect the devices. Often, you won’t need to do any setup since the computer will automatically see the printer.

When Your Computer Automatically Detects Your Printer

To check, go to the upper toolbar, select File > Print and when the Printer pop-up menu appears, select Nearby Printers or Printers & Scanners preferences to choose your printer from the selection menu.

When Your Computer Doesn’t Auto-detect Your Printer

In other cases, you’re going to need to manually add your printer to your computer. This will require a few more steps but it’s still a fairly straightforward process. Your computer may also not auto-detect your printer because the printer may have errors like no ink, which means you need to change out the Ink cartridges.

STEP 1 Update System Software

Begin by updating your Mac software. Click on the apple icon in the upper left corner of the taskbar, select System Preferences, and then Software Update. Update any recommended software from the list. If there are no updates listed, that’s okay.

STEP 2 Connect Your Printer to the Network

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to follow the instructions that came with your printer to connect it to the WiFi network. Note that every manufacturer may have different steps so it’s important to follow them accurately.

In some cases, you might need to physically connect the printer to your Mac via USB for the initial pairing. Be sure to use the Mac software included with the printer during the setup process. Once connected, you can remove the USB cable and the printer should stay connected to the WiFi network.

STEP 3Add the Printer to Your Available Printers List

Now that your printer is on the network, go back to the apple icon in the taskbar and select System Preferences. Once the dialogue screen appears, select Printers & Scanners. Your new printer should appear on the list.

If it doesn’t, click the plus icon at the bottom of the list. A new dialogue will appear listing all of the available printers on your network. Choose your printer and click Add. Follow any instructions telling you to download and install new software for the printer.

STEP 4Identifying Printer Accessories

Usually, the Mac OS can automatically identify printer accessories such as additional trays or memory size. But if it doesn’t, you can also manually add those features in the dialogue box by selecting Options & Supplies.

Additionally, before your toner or ink needs replacement, you need to understand how many pages it will have printed.

F.A.Q.S

How do I get my Mac to recognize my wireless printer?

You can add a printer to your Mac by going into System Preferences from the Apple menu and selecting Printers & Scanners. Once you follow the prompts you should be able to easily connect your wireless printer.


Why is my Mac not finding my printer?

One of the most common reasons your print job may not be printing is because you might have sent it to the wrong printer. Check the print dialogue and confirm you sent the job to the right printer.


How do I fix the printer not responding on a Mac?

You’ll need to reset the print system by going into System Preferences and selecting Printers & Scanners. Right-click anywhere within the Printers list and select Reset.



STAT: If your Mac and printer are already connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the printer might be available to you without any setup. To check, choose File > Print, click the Printer pop-up menu, choose Nearby Printers or Printers & Scanners preferences, then choose your printer. If your printer isn’t available, you can add it. (source)

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