Whether you have a wired printer connected via USB, a wireless printer on your Wi-Fi network, or a Bluetooth printer, printer setup is easy on Windows 11. Windows can automatically install printer drivers, too.

Adding a Printer on Windows 11

First, make sure your printer is powered on and plugged in if it is a wired printer. If it is a Wi-Fi printer, make sure it is connected to the same network as your computer.

Windows 11 automatically downloads the software your printer needs to function when you add the device.

To add a printer, click on the Start button, type “Settings” in the search bar, and hit Enter. Alternatively, you can hit Windows+i to open Settings. On the left hand side of the Settings menu, click “Bluetooth & devices.”

On the next page, click on “Printers & scanners.”

Click “Add device” near the top right of the Printers and scanners page. Windows will attempt to detect your printer. Let this run for a bit — say 30 seconds to a minute . Depending on your PC and the printer, it could take a little while to identify the printer correctly.

If your printer doesn’t appear, click “Add manually.” A pop-up window will present you with a few choices.

Select “My printer is a little older. Help me find it.” if you plugged your printer into your computer. If it is a network or other wireless printer, select “Add a Bluetooth, wireless or network discoverable printer.”

Once you’ve made your selection, click “Next.”

If Windows 11 detects a printer, follow the recommendations shown on screen.

How to Troubleshoot the Printer

Unfortunately, printers are notoriously fickle machines. Here are a few general troubleshooting steps you can take to try to resolve detection or printing problems.

Restart Windows 11

Rebooting your PC can fix a huge number of issues. If your printer is not detected, or detected but not working correctly, restarting your PC may fix the issue.

Double Check the Instructions

Many printers sold today have smart and wireless capabilities. It adds convenience, but it also introduces more places where problems can occur. Ensure that any setup instructions included with the printer were followed closely and that any connections to your computer are secure.

Manufacturer Drivers

If your printer has more advanced functions, like an all-in-one, or Windows 11 didn’t correctly install the printer’s drivers, it might be necessary to download drivers from the manufacturer. Use the disk included with your printer, if there was one. Otherwise, go to the manufacturer’s website — usually drivers will be found in Support > Downloads or Support > Drivers and Software. Here are links to printer driver pages for a few common manufacturers.

RELATED: Best Printers and All-in-Ones for Your Home Office

Once your printer is up and running, you may want to manage your printer settings or set your printer as the default print device. If you find yourself needing to print a few different things consistently, consider installing the printer more than once with different settings to save time.

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Nick Lewis is a staff writer for How-To Geek. He has been using computers for 20 years --- tinkering with everything from the UI to the Windows registry to device firmware. Before How-To Geek, he used Python and C++ as a freelance programmer. In college, Nick made extensive use of Fortran while pursuing a physics degree.
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