How to Connect a Printer to a Computer

By Techwalla Computers Editor

These instructions apply to connecting parallel port printers to PCs. The process for Macintosh serial printers and Mac and PC universal serial bus (USB) printers is very similar.

Things You'll Need

  • Printers
  • Computers
  • IEEE 1284-compatible, bidirectional printer cables

Step 1

Position your printer. If you have a laser printer, allow a few inches of space on all sides for ventilation. Ink-jet printers don't require ventilation.

Step 2

Buy a bidirectional, IEEE 1284-compliant parallel printer cable. (Printers rarely come with cables. See "How to Buy a Printer Cable," under Related eHows, for more information.)

Step 3

Shut down the computer, but leave it plugged into the surge suppressor.

Step 4

Compare the connectors at the opposite ends of the cable.

Step 5

Attach the 25-pin end of the cable to the parallel, or printer, port on the computer. (The plug will go in only one way.)

Step 6

Tighten the hand screws securely.

Step 7

Connect the other end of the cable into the printer's socket.

Step 8

Latch the retaining clips (on most printer ports).

Step 9

Plug the power cord into the printer and into the surge suppressor.

Step 10

Turn on the printer.

Step 11

Install cartridges according to the printer manufacturer's instructions.

Step 12

Turn on the computer.

Step 13

Install printer driver software according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 14

Add the printer to the list of printers your computer recognizes (see "How to Add a Printer," under Related eHows). On a Macintosh, just select the new printer in the Chooser.

Tips & Warnings

  • Buy a 6-foot cable unless you need a longer one.
  • If you have a consumer-model computer, ports are usually color-coded and labeled. Look for a printer icon next to your computer's parallel port.
  • If you have a multifunction printer/fax/copier/scanner machine, it may not use a parallel cable or connect to a parallel port.