How to Connect a Printer to a Laptop

Print from further away using your laptop

Man using a wireless printer with a laptop in the foreground

moodboard / Getty Images

Wireless printers use your Wi-Fi network to print from your laptop. With a wireless printer, your laptop isn’t attached to a printer cable and files can be sent to the printer from any room in your home or office. When you’re away from your Wi-Fi, your wireless printer may be able to print files you email to it. Find out how to print wirelessly.

Instructions in this article apply to wireless printers connected to laptops running Windows 10, 8, or, 7.

How to Connect the Wireless Printer to Your Wi-Fi

Wireless printers work over a network connection. If you use the printer at home, this would be your wireless internet connection. If you work in an office, it’s your office network.

The directions for connecting your wireless printer to your Wi-Fi network vary depending on the manufacturer. So, before you begin, read the printer manual and follow the manufacturer directions to connect the printer to a Wi-Fi network. 

Some printer manufacturers supply a software wizard that automates the process of connecting the printer to a Wi-Fi network.

Configure Internet Access on the Printer

These are the general steps to connect a wireless printer to a Wi-Fi network:

  1. Power on the Wi-Fi router and the laptop.

  2. Power on the printer.

  3. On the printer control panel, go to the wireless setup settings.

    If you use an Epson printer, navigate to Setup > Wireless LAN Settings. If you have an HP printer, go to Network.

  4. Select the wireless SSID of the Wi-Fi network.

  5. Enter the Wi-Fi security password. The password is the WEP key or WPA passphrase for the router.

  6. The wireless light on the printer will turn on when the printer connects to the Wi-Fi.

Troubleshoot Connection Problems

If you have problems connecting the printer to the Wi-Fi network:

  • Connect the printer to the laptop with a printer cable or USB cable. If the laptop prints to the printer with the cable, the printer may not be able to connect to the Wi-Fi.
  • Move the printer to get a better Wi-Fi signal. Something may be blocking the printer’s access. Check the printer display for the Wi-Fi strength; some printers do not have this feature.
  • Clear any pending print jobs. There may be a problem with a document that blocks the printer’s ability to connect to the Wi-Fi.
  • Restart the printer. 
  • Make sure the printer’s firmware is up-to-date.

How to Connect a Printer to a Laptop Wirelessly

After the printer has access to the Wi-Fi network, add the wireless printer to your laptop.

  1. Power on the printer.

  2. Open the Windows Search text box and type "printer."

    A screenshot showing how to find the Printers & scanners system settings from the Windows 10 search box
  3. Select Printers & Scanners.

  4. In the Settings window, select Add a printer or scanner.

    A screenshot showing the Printers & scanners settings to add a printer to a Windows 10 laptop
  5. Select your printer.

    A screenshot showing how to select a printer from the Printers & scanners settings in Windows 10
  6. Select Add device.

    A screenshot showing how to add a device in the Windows 10 Printers & scanners settings
  7. Wait while Windows sets up the necessary drivers and adds the printer to the laptop.

  8. Windows might prompt you to install additional software. If so, select Get app to download and install the software from the Microsoft Store.

    A screenshot showing a wireless printer that has been added to a Windows 10 laptop
  9. When the setup is complete, the laptop prints to the wireless printer without being connected to the printer with a USB or printer cable.

  10. If Windows didn't recognize the printer, go back to Printers & Scanners.

    If Windows is unable to find the printer, make sure the laptop and printer are using the same network. If you use a Wi-Fi Range Extender, the extended area is a second network.

  11. Select Add a printer or scanner.

  12. Select The printer that I want isn’t listed.

    A screenshot of the Printers & scanners settings in Windows 10 that can't recognize a printer
  13. Select Add a Bluetooth, wireless or network discoverable printer.

  14. Select the wireless printer.

  15. Close the Settings when you’re finished.

Add a Printer in Windows 8 and Windows 7

Accessing the settings to add a wireless printer to a Windows 8 or Windows 7 laptop are slightly different.

  1. Go to Start and select Devices and Printers.

  2. Select Add a printer.

  3. In the Add Printer wizard, select Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.

  4. In the list of available printers, select the printer.

  5. Select Next.

  6. Windows might need to install the printer driver. If so, select Install driver to continue.

  7. Complete the steps in the wizard.

  8. Select Finish when you’re done.

How to Print to a Wireless Printer Over Wi-Fi

Printing from your laptop to a wireless printer is the same as printing from any device to any printer.

  1. Make sure the printer is powered on, is connected to the Wi-Fi, and has paper in the paper tray.

  2. Open the app or web browser for the document you want to print.

  3. Open the document you want to print.

  4. Select the Printer icon.

    A screenshot showing the Print button in Excel to print to a wireless printer
  5. Select the wireless printer.

  6. Change the print settings as needed.

  7. Select Print.

    A screenshot showing the Print settings in Excel for a wireless printer
  8. The printed pages will be waiting for you in the printer output tray.

How to Print Wirelessly When Away From Wi-Fi

Some printer manufacturers offer an email print service. When you sign up at their website, the printer is assigned an email address. You’ll use this email address to send the document to your printer. When you’re away from home or out of the office, it’s possible to print a document on your wireless printer. 

The email address may be found by searching through the printer’s menu. On an HP printer, look for HP ePrint.

To print a document when your laptop isn’t on the same Wi-Fi network as the printer:

  1. Make sure the Wi-Fi router is powered on, the printer is powered on and connected to the Wi-Fi, and there is paper in the printer tray.

  2. Open your favorite email app.

  3. Create a new email message.

    A screenshot showing a blank new message window in Outlook on the web
  4. In the To text box, enter the email address the manufacturer assigned to the wireless printer.

  5. For the subject, enter a description of the print job.

    Some email print services require a subject. If there's no subject, the print job is canceled.

  6. Attach the document you want to print.

    A screenshot showing an email message with an attachment ready to send a print job to a wireless printer

    The email print service may limit the size and number of attachments. Also, the supported file types may be limited.

  7. Type a message if you want to print a separate sheet with information about the document, or other instructions.

  8. Select Send.

  9. The file is sent to the wireless printer and printed.