OS X El Capitan: Add or remove a printer

Add or remove a printer

To use a printer, you must set it up using Printers & Scanners preferences. (If you switched from using a Windows computer to a Mac, using Printers & Scanners preferences is similar to using the Printing control panel in Windows.)

To make it easier to set up your printer, OS X uses AirPrint by default to connect to most popular printers and doesn’t require additional printer software. With AirPrint, you can print to an AirPrint-enabled printer over a Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB connection. If a printer isn’t AirPrint-enabled, OS X can automatically download the latest printer software in most cases. To make sure you have the latest software, don’t install the software that came with the printer or from the manufacturer’s website; OS X will prompt you to download the latest software if it’s needed.

If your printer is AirPrint-enabled, it’s compatible with OS X. (For more information, see the Apple Support article About AirPrint.) If your printer isn’t AirPrint-enabled, you can make sure it’s compatible with OS X by checking the Apple Support article Printer and scanner software available for download.

Connect a USB printer to your Mac

For most USB printers, all you have to do is update your software and then connect the printer to your Mac. If necessary, OS X automatically detects the printer and downloads any necessary software. For other printers, you may have to complete a few steps to add the printer.

  1. Update your software: Choose Apple menu > App Store, click Updates, then install any software updates listed. Even if no updates appear, this ensures that OS X has the latest information about printer software it can download from Apple. If you don’t do this, you may see a message that software isn’t available when you connect your printer.

  2. Prepare your printer: Use the instructions that came with your printer to unpack the printer, install ink or toner, and add paper. Turn on the printer and make sure it’s not displaying any errors.

  3. Connect your printer: Connect the USB cable to your Mac. If you see a message prompting you to download new software, make sure to download and install it.

    Important:   If your Mac has a single USB-C port, use a multiport adapter. Connect the printer, then connect a USB-C cable to a power supply to prolong the battery life of your Mac. For more information about USB-C, see About USB-C.

Add a Wi-Fi or network printer

If your Mac and printer are already connected to the same Wi-FI network, choose File > Print, click the Printer pop-up menu, choose Nearby Printers or Printer & Scanner preferences, then choose your printer. If your printer isn’t available, you can add it.

  1. Update your software (if your printer doesn’t support AirPrint): Choose Apple menu > App Store, click Updates, then install any software updates listed. Even if no updates appear, this ensures that OS X has the latest information about printer software it can download from Apple. If you don’t do this, you may see a message that software isn’t available when you connect your printer.

    If you have an AirPrint printer, you don’t need to check for software updates.

  2. Prepare your printer: Use the instructions that came with your printer to unpack the printer, install ink or toner, and add paper. Turn on the printer and make sure it’s not displaying any errors.

  3. Connect your printer: Follow the instructions that came with the printer to connect it to the network. For more information, see the Apple Support article Connect an AirPrint printer to a Wi-Fi network.

  4. Add the printer to your list of available printers: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Printers & Scanners. If you don’t see your printer listed on the left, click the Add button at the bottom of the list. A dialog appears listing printers on your local network. It may take a minute or two for your printer to appear. Select your printer when it appears in the list, then click Add. If you see a message prompting you to download new software, make sure to download and install it.

    If your printer still doesn’t appear in the list, try adding the printer by its IP address (see below).

When you add a printer, OS X can usually detect whether the printer has special accessories installed, such as additional paper trays, extra memory, or a duplex unit. If it can’t, a dialog appears that lets you specify them. Make sure the settings in that dialog accurately reflect your printer’s installed accessories so you can take full advantage of them.

Add a network printer by its IP address

If a network printer you want to use isn’t in the list of available printers, you can add it as an IP printer. The printer must support one of these printing protocols: AirPrint, HP Jetdirect (Socket), Line Printer Daemon (LPD), or Internet Printing Protocol (IPP).

Note:   Some printers connected using these generic protocols may offer limited functionality.

You must know the network printer’s IP address or host name, printing protocol, and model number or printer software name. If it uses a special queue, you also need to know the queue name. See the person who manages the printer or server for assistance.

  1. Update your software (if you’re not using the AirPrint protocol): Choose Apple menu > App Store, click Updates, then install any software updates listed. Even if no updates appear, this ensures that OS X has the latest information about printer software it can download from Apple. If you don’t do this, you may see a message that software isn’t available when you connect your printer.

    If you have an AirPrint printer, you don’t need to check for software updates.

  2. Prepare your printer: Use the instructions that came with your printer to unpack the printer, install ink or toner, and add paper. Turn on the printer and make sure it’s not displaying any errors.

  3. Connect your printer: Follow the instructions that came with the printer to connect it to the network. For more information, see the Apple Support article Connect an AirPrint printer to a Wi-Fi network.

  4. Add the printer to your list of available printers: Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Printers & Scanners.

    Click Add from the printer list, click IP Printer, then enter the printer information, using the following table as a guide.

    Address

    Enter the printer’s IP address (a number that looks like 192.168.20.11) or host name (for example, printer.example.com).

    Protocol

    Click the Protocol pop-up menu, then choose a printing protocol your printer supports:

    • AirPrint: The AirPrint protocol enables Wi-Fi, USB, and Ethernet network access to a printer’s printing, faxing, and scanning options (if the specific printer supports these features). You don’t need to download or install printer software to use AirPrint-enabled printers. A wide variety of printers, including Aurora, Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Fuji, Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Xerox, and many others, support the AirPrint protocol. If your printer is AirPrint-enabled, you don’t need to download or install printer software.

    • HP Jetdirect – Socket: HP and many other printer manufacturers use this protocol.

    • Line Printer Daemon - LPD: Older printers and print servers may use this protocol.

    • Internet Printing Protocol - IPP: Modern printers and print servers use this protocol.

    Queue

    If your printer requires it, enter the queue name for your printer. If you don’t know the queue name, try leaving it blank or see your network administrator.

    Name

    Enter a descriptive name for the printer (for example, Color Laser Printer), so you can identify it in the Printer pop-up menu.

    Location

    Enter the printer’s location (for example, “outside my office”), so you can identify it in the Printer pop-up menu.

    Use

    If this pop-up menu doesn’t display the appropriate software for the printer, choose Select Printer Software, then select your printer in the Printer Software list.

    If that list doesn’t include your printer, try downloading and installing the printer software (also called a printer driver) from the printer manufacturer. You can also try choosing generic printer software from the pop-up menu.

Add a Bluetooth printer

  1. Update your software: Choose Apple menu > App Store, click Updates, then install any software updates listed. Even if no updates appear, this ensures that OS X has the latest information about printer software it can download from Apple. If you don’t do this, you may see a message that software isn’t available when you connect your printer.

    If you have an AirPrint printer, you don’t need to check for software updates.

  2. Prepare your printer: Use the instructions that came with your printer to unpack the printer, install ink or toner, and add paper. Turn on the printer and make sure it’s not displaying any errors.

  3. Connect your printer: Follow the instructions that came with your printer to make sure it’s ready to connect via Bluetooth. You also need to make sure to turn on Bluetooth and set up the Bluetooth printer as a new device.

After you connect your printer, if you see a message prompting you to download new software, make sure to download and install it. OS X automatically uses AirPrint if your printer supports it.

Connect a printer to an AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort base station

If you connect your printer to an AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme Base Station, any Mac on your network can use the printer, whether they connect to the network wirelessly or with a cable.

Note:   Connecting a printer to an AirPort Time Capsule or an AirPort base station doesn’t make it an AirPrint-enabled printer.
  1. Update your software: Choose Apple menu > App Store, click Updates, then install any software updates listed. Even if no updates appear, this ensures that OS X has the latest information about printer software it can download from Apple. If you don’t do this, you may see a message that software isn’t available when you connect your printer.

    If you have an AirPrint printer, you don’t need to check for software updates.

  2. Prepare your printer: Use the instructions that came with your printer to unpack the printer, install ink or toner, and add paper. Turn on the printer and make sure it’s not displaying any errors.

  3. Test your printer: Temporarily connect the printer to the USB port on your Mac, then print a test page.

  4. Connect your printer: Plug in the printer to your AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort base station.

    • If your printer has an Ethernet port, connect your printer to one of your base station’s Ethernet ports.

    • Otherwise, connect your printer to the USB port on the AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort base station.

      If you’re setting up an AirPort Express for the first time, connect the printer to the AirPort Express before setting up the base station.

  5. Print a document: Open a document, then choose File > Print. Click the Printer pop-up menu, then choose the printer from the Nearby Printers section of the menu.

    Note:   If your printer is connected to the USB port on your AirPort device and you have problems scanning, viewing the printer’s utilities, checking ink cartridge status, or viewing error messages, disconnect the printer from the AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort base station and connect it temporarily to your Mac. Choose Apple menu > App Store, then click Updates. Install any software updates listed for your printer. Then, reconnect it to the AirPort Time Capsule or AirPort base station.

Remove a printer

If you no longer use a printer, you can delete it from your list of available printers.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Printers & Scanners.

  2. Select the printer in the list, then click the Remove button .

If you delete the printer that’s set as your default printer, OS X selects another printer as your default. To set a different printer as your default, choose it from the pop-up menu in Printers & Scanners preferences.

Last Modified: Apr 13, 2016
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