Skip to content

The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Printer on Your Mac

Printers are an essential peripheral for any home office or small business. While most of our work happens digitally these days, there are still times when you need a hard copy of a document, photo, or form. Adding a printer to your Mac computer is easier than you might think, and having one at your fingertips will boost your productivity.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to get your printer up and running on macOS. We‘ll cover the best printer options for Mac compatibility, provide step-by-step instructions for wired and wireless setups, and share expert tips for getting the highest quality prints. Let‘s get started!

Finding Your Perfect Mac Printer

Before you can connect a printer to your Mac, you‘ll need to choose a model that fits your needs and budget. Fortunately, most modern printers work seamlessly with macOS, so you have plenty of options. Here are a few of our top picks:

  • HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e – This all-in-one inkjet printer offers fast color printing, scanning, copying, and faxing. It‘s a great choice for home offices that handle a variety of print jobs.

  • Epson EcoTank ET-3760 – If you print in high volumes, this supertank printer will save you money on ink in the long run. The refillable ink tanks are easy to top off and can print thousands of pages before needing more.

  • Canon imageCLASS MF743Cdw – For businesses that need a reliable laser printer, this Canon model delivers crisp text and vivid color graphics. It also supports duplex printing to save on paper waste.

  • Brother HL-L2395DW – This compact monochrome laser printer is ideal for home users who primarily print black and white documents. Its small size fits in tight spaces, and it offers automatic duplex printing.

When selecting a printer for your Mac, consider these factors:

  • Print quality and speed
  • Initial cost and ongoing ink/toner expenses
  • Wireless and wired connectivity options
  • Paper capacity and supported sizes
  • Multifunction features like scanning and copying
  • Compatible ink cartridges and refills
  • Energy efficiency and standby power usage

Take time to read reviews and compare specs to find the model that will serve you well for years to come. With your perfect printer in hand, it‘s time to connect it to your Mac.

Connecting Your Printer via WiFi

These days, most printers offer wireless connectivity, which lets you print from your Mac without dealing with cumbersome cables. Here‘s how to get your WiFi printer online:

  1. Unpack your printer and plug it in. Remove all the packing materials from your printer, then use the included power cable to plug it into a wall outlet. Press the power button to turn on the printer.

  2. Connect the printer to your wireless network. Using the printer‘s LCD screen or buttons, navigate to the wireless settings menu. Select your WiFi network from the list and enter the password to connect. Consult your printer‘s manual for detailed instructions, as the process varies by brand.

  3. Open System Preferences on your Mac. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner, then choose "System Preferences" from the drop-down.

  4. Navigate to Printers & Scanners. In the System Preferences window, find the "Printers & Scanners" icon and click to open.

  5. Click the Add (+) button. In the lower-left corner of the Printers & Scanners screen, click the Add (+) button to search for available printers. After a few moments, your Mac should detect the wireless printer.

  6. Select your printer and click Add. In the list of discovered printers, click on your model to select it. You may see two versions of the printer listed – choose the one that mentions "Bonjour" or "AirPrint". Then click the "Add" button to finish the setup process.

That‘s it! Your wireless printer should now appear in the Printers & Scanners list and be available to use. When you print a document, simply select this printer from the list in the Print dialog box.

Setting Up a USB Printer Connection

If your printer doesn‘t have wireless, you can still connect it to your Mac with a USB cable for reliable wired printing. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Connect the USB cable to your printer and Mac. Locate the USB port on your printer (usually on the back) and plug in the cable. Then connect the other end to an available USB port on your Mac.

  2. Turn on your printer. Press the power button to switch on your printer. In most cases, your Mac will automatically detect the printer and download any necessary drivers.

  3. Open System Preferences and go to Printers & Scanners. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner, choose "System Preferences," then click "Printers & Scanners."

  4. Verify that your printer appears in the list. After connecting the USB cable, you should see your printer‘s name appear in the left side of the Printers & Scanners window. If it doesn‘t show up, click the Add (+) button to search for it manually.

  5. Configure printer options (optional). Select your printer in the list, then click "Options & Supplies" to view available settings. Here you can adjust print quality, enable double-sided printing, and monitor ink levels, depending on your model.

With a wired USB connection, your printer is always ready to go, even if your wireless network goes down. The only downside is that you need to keep your Mac physically connected to the printer, which may not be convenient if they‘re in different rooms.

Troubleshooting Common Printer Problems

Even with the best printer and a proper setup, you may occasionally encounter issues when printing from your Mac. Here are some solutions to common problems:

  • Printer not showing up in list – If your printer doesn‘t appear in the Printers & Scanners list, try restarting both the printer and your Mac. Also ensure that your printer is turned on and has paper loaded. For wireless printers, double-check that it‘s connected to the correct WiFi network.

  • Print jobs stuck in queue – When documents get stuck in the print queue, open the queue window by clicking on your printer in the Printers & Scanners list. Find the stalled job, click on it, then click the Delete button to clear it out. You may need to restart your printer to get things flowing again.

  • Poor print quality – If your prints look faded, smudged, or blotchy, you may need to clean the print heads or align the ink cartridges. Consult your printer‘s manual or software utility for instructions. It‘s also a good idea to use high-quality paper for the best results.

  • Connection drops – Wireless printers can sometimes lose connection, especially if they‘re far from your router. Try moving your printer closer to the router or connecting it via Ethernet cable for a stronger signal. You can also update your router‘s firmware to improve performance.

If you‘re still having trouble with your printer, visit the manufacturer‘s website or support forums to find model-specific troubleshooting guides. The macOS built-in Wireless Diagnostics tool.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I print from my iPhone or iPad to my Mac‘s printer?
A: Yes, as long as your printer supports AirPrint (Apple‘s wireless printing standard), you can print directly from iOS/iPadOS devices to the printer. If your printer doesn‘t appear in the iOS Print menu, check that your printer and devices are connected to the same network and that you enabled AirPrint in the Printer & Scanner settings on your Mac.

Q: How do I scan a document to my Mac?
A: Most all-in-one printers include a flatbed scanner for digitizing photos and documents. To scan to your Mac, open the printer‘s scanning software (usually available in the Applications folder) and follow the prompts to preview, scan, and save the file. You can also use Apple‘s built-in Image Capture app or third-party scanning tools like VueScan.

Q: Why are my printer‘s ink cartridges always running out?
A: Inkjet printers use liquid ink that can dry out over time, even if you‘re not actively printing. To minimize waste, only print in color when necessary, choose draft mode for everyday documents, and avoid large areas of solid color. If you print frequently, consider investing in an ink tank or cartridge-free printer for lower long-term costs.

Wrapping Up

Adding a printer to your Mac opens up a world of creative possibilities, from designing custom cards and invitations to producing pro-quality photos and fine art prints. By following the steps in this guide, you‘ll be able to connect virtually any printer to your Mac with ease. Remember to choose a printer that fits your needs, budget, and workspace – and don‘t forget to keep spare ink or toner on hand for those last-minute print emergencies. Happy printing!