The difficulties that plague common users when adding or installing a new printer to a computer stem from the fact that there are numerous manufacturers of this device and each one builds varied models of it. Moreover, there are several types and versions of computer operating systems and each one has its own method for installing printers and other hardware. Outlined below are the common methods to add a printer to a computer that has a Windows XP operating system.
- Find out if your printer supports Plug and Play. Plug and Play is a feature in current hardware that allows for easy detection and installation of the device to your PC. Most if not all recent and current printer models support this feature. A quick look at the packaging or user's manual will easily tell you if the feature is available. When such references are not on hand, check the cable to be used for connecting the printer to the PC. If it uses USB, then the feature is supported. If it uses a parallel connector and it's not an old model, it might support the feature. Really old printer models use serial connectors and such types do not support Plug and Play.
- Use the Found New Hardware Wizard. With a Plug and Play printer, you simply need to connect it to the appropriate port on the PC, using the proper cable (instructions on the manual). In most cases, Windows XP will detect the printer and install it. In other cases, the Found New Hardware Wizard dialog box will appear. When this happens, select the "Install the software automatically (Recommended)" option, click "Next" and simply do the step-by-step instructions that will follow.
- Use the Add Hardware Wizard. Choose this manner of installing the printer if Windows could not detect it despite its Plug and Play feature. This wizard is accessible from the Control Panel. Double-click on the "Add Hardware" icon and the process will begin. The first thing that the system will do is look for any recently (and physically) connected hardware. This procedure in a way 'forces' the operating system to more methodically detect any new plugged-in hardware. The next steps will present you with guides and options. Again, simply follow the instructions until the printer is successfully installed.
- Use the Add Printer Wizard. Inside the Control Panel is another icon labeled "Printers and Faxes." (Take note that to actually see this and other Control Panel icons, your folders must be set in the Classic View.) Click on the icon to open the folder and then click on the "Add a printer" option found on the left side of the frame to activate the Add Printer Wizard. The first crucial step in this wizard is to state whether the printer being installed is directly connected to the computer or is part of a network and connected to a different computer. This will affect the next set of options that will be given to you. This method is good for non-Plug and Play printers as a manual installation option is provided in this wizard. Manual installation usually involves inserting the printer's installation disc into the computer's optical drive.
Regular users can avoid much of the frustration that comes with new hardware installation by being familiar with the cable and ports that connect devices and computers. It wouldn't hurt to read the user's manual either.