How to Add a Printer to a Mac

By Katelyn Kelley

The Macintosh operating system can automatically detect when certain devices are connected to a USB or Firewire port and may automatically recognize a printer when you connect it to your computer. If so, the operating system will do the printer setup for you. If you open a document and select "Print" from the File menu, and your new printer appears as an available device, you're all set. Otherwise, you need to add the printer through the "Printer & Fax" system preferences, which is very easy to do.

Things You'll Need

  • Printer drivers for your printer model

Install the Printer Drivers

Step 1

Start up your Macintosh and insert the CD that came with your printer if it has one. This will contain the drivers for your printer, which tell the Macintosh how to communicate with it. You can also download drivers from the manufacturer's website.

Step 2

Connect the printer to your Macintosh, following the manufacturer's directions; check for a "Quick Start" guide in the box with illustrations to guide you.

Step 3

Turn the printer on by pressing the power switch after it is connected.

Step 4

Locate the printer drivers CD icon on your Macintosh desktop and double-click to open it and view the contents. An installer icon should be clearly visible.

Step 5

Double-click the installer application (or the downloaded file if you got the drivers file from the manufacturer's website instead of a CD) and follow the screen prompts to complete the installation.

Add the Printer to System Preferences

Step 1

Open your System Preferences program, located in the Applications folder on your Macintosh.

Step 2

Click the "Printer & Fax" icon.

Step 3

Click the plus sign (+) in the left column to add a new printer to your list of available printers. Make sure the printer is connected to your Macintosh and turned on before you do this.

Step 4

Click the name of your printer in the list of available drivers that appear in the dialog box, and click the "Add" button. You will return to the previous screen, and your printer will now be listed as an available device.

Step 5

Close the "Print & Fax" dialog box. You are now ready to print.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because off the lag time between manufacturing and customer sales, the CD in the printer box may contain old files. It's a good idea to check the manufacturer's website for updated printer drivers to download.