Print from anything

If you have just one computer in your home or office and you never move it more than 10 feet from your printer, you probably don’t need a network printer.

But if you have more than one computer, a tablet, iPad, or Smartphone, any of those devices can use a network printer. If your printer also has a scanner in it, you should be able to scan with any device on your network, too.

A network printer needs to be on the network

Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one way to set up a network multifunction device or printer, and every manufacturer did things the same way? Yeah, I’ve always been a dreamer. That’s not going to happen.

However, I have learned that no matter what kind of printer you’re installing, the first thing to do is:

  • read the setup guide that came with the printer

Not the whole manual, necessarily, but the foldout paper or the card that came in the box with the printer. That’s going to give you a general idea of how to get the printer on the network.

Follow the steps exactly and in the order they’re written.

A multi-function printer needs software

Since Windows Vista (the forgotten operating system), Windows has been pretty good at deciding what kind of printer you’re connecting and then finding and installing the appropriate printer drivers. That is great if all you have is a printer.

Once you have it on the network, it’s usually just a few clicks to finish setting it up. If it doesn’t show up in Control Panel | Devices and Printers, try clicking on Add a printer at the top of that window.

Again, great if all you have is a printer. If there’s a scanner involved, you need to install the software and/or drivers for that before you can use the scanner.

You get that software from the printer manufacturer. Maybe a DVD was included, or maybe you need to visit the manufacturer’s site and download the latest software.

Instructions will be on that setup card. You know, the one you read carefully before doing anything else.

Test your printer. Test your scanner.

Hooray! Just two cups of coffee and a sandwich into your day, and your printer is on the network and you’ve installed scanner software on the main computer.

How do you know everything works?

You need to test it. Print something. Anything. Preferably a short document with some colour in it if you have a colour printer. This doesn’t have to be a project, but make sure the printer prints before moving on.

Once you know that works, scan something, and check that you know how to save the result. Or that you know how to email it if that’s mostly what you do with your scans.

Don’t wait till the moment you need to print out an important government form, fill it out, and scan and email it back. Make sure you know how to do this before you need to.

What about phones and tablets?

Your phones and tablets need an app to print to print and scan. Visit the Apple Store if you have an iPhone or iPad. Android users can head over to the Google Play Store.

Search for the app for your printer and install it. And … test it!

But wait, there’s more!

Still having trouble? Or, everything was fine but now nothing works? My next column will contain some tips on how to resolve these problems — and more.

A personal note

Several members of my family have been experiencing health problems over the last few weeks. As a result, I have fallen behind on answering my emails and sometimes in returning phone calls.

I apologize for that, and remain optimistic that these issues will resolve in the coming days. I appreciate your patience and understanding as I work to catch up. Thank you all for your good wishes.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

Column Archives

Get Cate's column by email

RSS Feed

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories