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How to Add a Printer to Your Mac: 7 Best Ways

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Last updated: October 26, 2023

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There could be several reasons why you’re facing connectivity issues with your printer. It could be due to incorrect settings, outdated drivers, or even network issues.

To help you add a printer to your Mac, I have compiled a list of 7 best methods that I’ve tried and tested. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use these solutions – I’ve made them easy to understand for everyone. So, let’s get started.

How to Add a Printer to a Mac

Many printer models are compatible with Mac and can be easily configured using AirPrint. One of the benefits of this approach is there is no need to download individual drivers for each printer. Instead, you can connect using Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or even a traditional USB cable.

Whether you have a USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or network printer, below, I’ll walk you through the various methods to add a printer to your Mac step-by-step.

1. Add a USB Printer

For most USB printers, all you need to do is connect the printer to your Mac using a USB cable. Once connected, your Mac will automatically recognize the printer and install the necessary drivers. However, before you do, make sure your macOS and related apps are up to date to avoid any hiccups.

Now, follow these steps to add a USB printer to your Mac:

  1. Connect your printer to your Mac with a USB cable.
  2. Turn on the printer.

As soon as you connect the printer to your Mac, it will auto-detect the printer and download its required software. However, if the process doesn’t start, you can follow the next steps.

  1. Open the System Settings from the Apple menu.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Printers & Scanners in the left sidebar.
click printers and scanners in system settings
  1. You should see your printer listed.
  2. If you don’t, click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
click add printer scanner or fax button
  1. Select your printer from the list and click Add.
select your printer from the list and click add

2. Add a Wi-Fi Printer

Many printers come with Wi-Fi connectivity, making it easy to print wirelessly. Wi-Fi printers that support AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing protocol for Mac, eliminate the need for wires, and all you have to do is connect your Mac and the printer to the same network, and you’re pretty much set.

To add a Wi-Fi printer to your Mac, you must connect your printer to your local Wi-Fi network. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Some printers have a dedicated Wi-Fi button. Simply press this button and press the WPS button on your router (if available), and your printer should connect to the network.
  2. Use the printer’s menu to select your wireless access point and enter the network password.
  3. Use an app like HP Smart, which connects your printer to your computer or mobile device first, then lets you enter the wireless network credentials.
  4. Connect your printer directly to your router using an Ethernet cable.

Printers that support AirPrint should automatically appear in the Printer drop-down menu when you try to print. However, depending on their protocol, some printers may need to be manually added to your Mac.

3. Manually Add a Printer to Your Mac

If your printer doesn’t show up in the Printer menu, follow the steps below to add it to your Mac manually:

  1. Ensure your printer is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac.
  2. Open System Settings and select Printers & Scanners.
click printers and scanners in system settings
  1. Click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
click add printer scanner or fax button
  1. Enter your admin username and password if required.
  2. Select your printer from the list and click Add.
select your printer from the list and click add

4. Add a Network Printer Using Its IP Address

Network printers, often found in office settings, are designed to be easily accessible to multiple users within the same network. These printers offer a convenient solution for businesses with multiple employees needing to print documents from their workstations.

To add a network printer, you first need to connect it to your local network via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or other network protocols. Follow these steps to add a network printer to your Mac:

  1. Open System Settings and select Printers & Scanners.
click printers and scanners in system settings
  1. Click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
click add printer scanner or fax button
  1. Select the IP tab on the new window.
select the ip tab
  1. Enter the printer’s IP address in the Address tab.
add the printer address
  1. Next, select a Protocol from the drop-down menu.
select printer protocol
  1. In the lower section, type your printer’s name in the Name column and its location in the Location column (you’ll see the location in the pop-up menu).
add the printer s name and location
  1. Select Choose a Drive menu next to Use. If you don’t see Choose a Driver in the Use column, you’ll have to download the printer drivers.
click choose a driver
  1. When all the fields are filled, click the Add button to connect the printer.

Now the above method will only work if you know the printer’s IP address. If you don’t know the IP address, I’ve shared how you can find it below.

How to Find a Printer’s IP Address on a Mac

Follow these steps to find the IP address of your printer:

  1. Open System Settings and select Printers & Scanners.
click printers and scanners in system settings
  1. Select the printer you want to find the IP address for in the list.
  2. The IP address will be displayed in the printer details next to Location.

5. Add a Bluetooth Printer

Some printers offer Bluetooth connectivity for easy setup. However, this isn’t as common as the Wi-Fi printers. You’ll usually find instant printers with Bluetooth functionality that are less versatile than regular printers.

If you have a Bluetooth printer, here’s how to add it to your Mac:

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on both your printer and Mac.
  2. Pair your Mac with the printer in the Bluetooth settings.
  3. Open System Settings and select Printers & Scanners.
click printers and scanners in system settings
  1. Click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
click add printer scanner or fax button
  1. Select your printer from the list and click Add.
select your printer from the list and click add

6. Add a Wi-Fi or Mobile Printer With a Configuration Profile

To use a network printer with AirPrint, you may need to install a configuration profile for your printer. If your printer requires a configuration profile, follow these steps:

  1. Download the configuration profile from the printer manufacturer’s website.
  2. Once you have the profile on your MacBook, double-click the file to open it.
  3. A pop-up window should appear, allowing you to install the profile.
  4. Click Next and wait for a notification requesting confirmation for the installation.
  5. When you receive this notification, confirm the installation.
  6. After the installation, the configuration profile will appear in the Profiles panel within the System Settings.
  7. With the profile in place, you can proceed with the usual steps to add your printer to the list of devices connected to your system.

7. Add a Printer to a Mac via WPS

WPS is another simple way to connect devices to your network. However, it only works if your network connection uses WPA and WPA2 encryption protocols.

Follow these steps to add a printer to your Mac via WPS:

  1. Ensure your printer supports WPS.
  2. Press the WPS button on your printer.
  3. Press the WPS button on your router within 2 minutes.
  4. Once connected, open System Settings and click Printers & Scanners.
  5. Click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
click add printer scanner or fax button
  1. Select your printer from the list and click Add.
select the ip tab

How to Start Printing Wirelessly on Your Mac

Printing wirelessly from your Mac can make your life easier by eliminating the need for cumbersome cables and allowing you to print from anywhere within your Wi-Fi network’s range. Here’s how to set up wireless printing on your Mac:

Step 1: Verify Printer Compatibility

Make sure your printer supports wireless printing, usually indicated by Wi-Fi or AirPrint labels. Check the user manual or the manufacturer’s website for details.

Step 2: Connect Your Printer to Wi-Fi

  1. Turn on your printer and navigate to the network settings (usually found in the printer’s menu or settings).
  2. Choose the Wi-Fi option and select your network from the list.
  3. Enter your network’s password to connect your printer to Wi-Fi.

Step 3: Ensure Your Mac Is Connected to the Same Wi-Fi Network

  1. Click the Wi-Fi icon in your Mac’s menu bar (top right corner).
click the wi fi icon in the menu bar
  1. Make sure your Mac is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your printer.

Step 4: Add the Printer to Your Mac

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings.
  2. Click Printers & Scanners.
  3. Click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button.
  4. Your Mac will automatically search for available printers. Select your printer from the list and click Add.

Step 5: Test the Printer

  1. Open a document or image on your Mac.
  2. Go to File and select Print.
  3. Choose your printer from the dropdown menu and adjust any necessary print settings.
  4. Click Print and ensure the document prints correctly.

If you encounter issues, ensure your printer and Mac are both on the same Wi-Fi network, and the printer is within range of your Wi-Fi router. Check the manufacturer’s website or user manual for troubleshooting tips.

What to Do If Your Mac Doesn’t Automatically Recognize a USB Printer

If your Mac doesn’t automatically recognize a USB printer when you plug it in, you can follow these troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue:

  • 🔌 Check the Connection: Ensure that the USB cable is securely connected to both the printer and the Mac. If you have another USB cable, try swapping it out to see if the original cable is faulty.
  • 🔛 Restart Both Devices: Power off both your Mac and your printer. Wait a minute, then power them both back on. Often, a simple restart can resolve any issues with device recognition.
  • 🔀 Try a Different USB Port: Sometimes, certain USB ports on your computer might not work as expected. Plug the printer into a different USB port on your Mac and check if the printer is recognized.
  • ⚙️ Update macOS: Ensure that your Mac is running the latest version of macOS. Outdated software can sometimes cause compatibility issues. Go to System Settings > General > Software Update to check for any available updates.
  • 💾 Download the Latest Printer Drivers: Some printers require specific drivers to work properly with your Mac. Visit the manufacturer’s website, find the driver for your printer model, and follow the installation instructions.
  • Remove and Re-Add the Printer: Go to System Settings > Printers & Scanners. If your printer is listed there, select it and click the minus (-) button to remove it. Then click the plus (+) button and follow the prompts to re-add the printer.
  • 🔄 Reset the Printing System: If the above steps do not work, you can try resetting the Mac printing system. Go to System Settings > Printers & Scanners. Hold down the Control ^ key and click anywhere in the list of devices. Choose Reset printing system from the context menu that appears. Please note that this will remove all printers from your Mac, and you will need to add them back manually.
  • 📞 Contact Printer Manufacturer: If none of the above steps work, it may be time to contact the printer manufacturer. They can provide specific troubleshooting steps for your printer model or inform you of any known compatibility issues.

Remember that some older printers may not be compatible with newer versions of macOS, so it’s always a good idea to check the printer manufacturer’s website for any known compatibility issues or recommendations.

How to Remove an Unused Printer From Mac

Removing an unused printer from your Mac is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. In the dropdown menu that appears, select System Settings.
  3. Find and click the Printers & Scanners icon in the System Settings window.
  4. In the Printers & Scanners window, you will see a list of printers on the left side. Click the printer you want to remove.
  5. With the printer selected, click the minus () button at the bottom of the list. This will remove the selected printer from your Mac.
  6. A pop-up window may appear asking you to confirm the removal. Click Delete Printer to confirm.

That’s it! The unused printer is now removed from your Mac. If you ever need to use the printer again in the future, you can re-add it following the usual process for adding printers.

Removing a printer will only remove the connection between the printer and your Mac. It will not uninstall any printer drivers or software that may have been installed. If you also want to uninstall printer software, you must do so separately, typically by navigating to your Applications folder and moving the relevant software to the Bin.

Start Printing on Your Mac

Now that you have learned how to add a printer to your Mac, you may want to learn a few more things about Macs. Below, I’m leaving some tips for you:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I get my Mac to recognize my printer?

    To get your Mac to recognize your printer, connect it via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. Go to System Settings, select Printers & Scanners, and click the Add Printer, Scanner or Fax… button to add a new printer. Your Mac should automatically detect and display available printers. Select your printer and follow the prompts to complete the setup.

  2. What to do if my Mac is not communicating with my printer?

    If your Mac isn’t communicating with your printer, check the connection, ensuring cables are properly plugged in or connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Then, verify that your printer is powered on and not in an error state. If issues persist, try restarting your Mac and printer or reinstalling the printer drivers.

  3. Are all printers compatible with Mac?

    Not all printers are compatible with Mac. However, many modern printers support AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing protocol, making them Mac-friendly. Before purchasing a printer, check the manufacturer’s specifications to confirm Mac compatibility. It should work seamlessly with Mac, iPhone, and iPad devices if it supports AirPrint.

Pawan Singh

Author

Pawan is your go-to tech buddy with over 4 years diving deep into the world of Macbooks and cool gadgets. He's written a ton of articles, blending his tech-savvy expertise with a dash of friendly banter. When it comes to the latest in tech, Pawan's got the scoop and isn't shy to share it. Trust him, he's been around the block a few times!

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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