In order set up a printer to print wirelessly, you must have a wireless printer, a wireless network, and a computer with wireless capability. Wireless means there are no cable connections from your computer to your modem, which connects you to the Internet. In short, it’s beaming a signal from the wireless router in your home to your computer or printer. That also means that you can move your computer anywhere in your home and connect to the Internet or send to documents to your printer wherever it is located.
Step 1: Make sure your printer has wireless capabilities
You can’t use that 10-year-old printer you’ve got stuffed in the closet. A safe bet is that if your printer was produced in the last two years, it has wireless capability. One way to tell for sure is that somewhere on the printer casing you will find either the words “wifi” or “802.11g/b”, or it will have the wifi symbol, which looks kind of like a beacon pointing toward the sky.
Step 2: Purchase a wireless router
In order to print wirelessly, you also must have a wireless network in your home. If you don’t have a wireless network, you need to purchase a wireless router from a local computer store or anyplace that sells electronics. Then, you need to connect your wireless router to your modem and set up a wireless connection on your computer (Microsoft and Mac have onboard instructions that will walk you through creating a wireless connection).
Step 3: Upgrade your computer, if necessary
In addition, your computer must have wireless capability. Most laptops automatically have it, but some desktops do not. However, that is an easy and inexpensive upgrade for your desktop — a simple plugin to a USB port.
Step 4: Set up your printer
Once you have your wireless network up, set up the printer and install the driver software (if necessary) for the printer. When the printer is turned on, it will automatically find your wireless network. Then, you need to enter the password for your network on the printer display and it should connect automatically. If you have problems, your printer should have documentation to troubleshoot most issues.
Setting up a wireless printer takes about 15 minutes but, once it is up and going, you shouldn’t have to mess with it again unless connectivity is disrupted by a storm, power surge, or some other odd occurrence. To reconnect, you just need to go back into setup on the printer display and enter your password again.
If this whole process sounds scary, don’t worry. Lots of computer places have experts who can either talk you through the process, or send out their Geek Squad to get it set up for you.