Installing a Printer

Question: Do you have any information on installing a printer?

Answer: There are three different ways that you can connect a printer to a computer. These are:

Some printers can be connected in more than one way while with others you don't get a choice. The first thing to do is to work out which of these means can be used to physically connect your printer to your computer or network. Depending on the printer and the operating system that you're running on your computer you are probably looking at a parallel or USB connection.

The first step is to unpack the printer and connect it to your computer. In some cases the cable to connect your printer are supplied with the printer while in others you have to buy it separately. A parallel printer cable has a large 36 pin D plug at one end (where the pins are actually metal strips along either side of a central bar) that connects to the printer and a smaller 25 pin D plug (with actual pins) that plugs into the parallel port on the back of your printer. A USB cable will have a square four pin plug that attaches to the printer and a flat four pin plug that attaches either to a USB port on your computer or to a USB hub that is itself attached to your computer.

Once you have the hardware set up and connected to your computer you need to turn on the computer and tell it about your new printer. Assuming that you are running some version of Windows you do this by selecting Settings from the Start menu and then selecting Printers. This will open a folder containing any printer like devices that you already have installed on the computer as well as one labelled Add Printer which is the one that you want to select.

Selecting this will open the "Add Printer Wizard" which will ask you first if the new computer is connected to this computer or is to be accessed over the network. Your printer probably came with an instruction sheet that tells you what to fill in in each field here depending on which version of the operating system that you're running but here's what to expect in general terms.

Assuming that the printer is attached directly to your computer you will be asked install an appropriate printer driver for the printer. Presumably your printer came with a disk containing the drivers so you can place that in the appropriate drive and select Have Disk to select the printer driver. If you don't have a disk then you'll have to try to find your printer in the list of printers where drivers are supplied with the operating system.

You will also be asked to identify the port to which the printer is attached. If you used a parallel connection then this is probably going to be LPT1 (few computers have more than one parallel port). I am not quite sure what you need to select here with a USB printer but presumably with the printer attached the appropriate port will appear in the list and you'll be able to figure out which one it is.

Note that the two steps are in this order for Windows 95/98/SE/ME, if you are running Windows NT/2000/XP that these last two steps are the other way around.

Once all of the configuration information has been entered the setup wizard will give you the option of printing a test page. This will enable you to check that you have everything configured properly and if the test page doesn't print you can back up through the screens and try alternative options until you find the combination that works.

If the printer is to be accessed over a network rather than being attached to the local printer then instead of asking for the port that the printer is connected to the system will instead ask you to identify the computer that it is connected to. Assuming that the printer has already been set up to be shared over the network it will appear in the list of printers attached to that computer and you can select it from the list. If the two computers are running different operating systems you may then be asked to install an appropriate driver for the operating system on this computer.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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