How to Know If a Printer Is Compatible With a Laptop

By Greyson Ferguson

When connecting a printer to your laptop computer you need to know if the operating system on your computer is compatible with the printer. The last thing you want to do is purchase a new printer, only to find it does not work with the computer. There are a few ways you can look at the printer to determine if it can function while connected to the laptop computer.

Step 1

Check to see what platform the printer supports. More than likely it is either Windows or Mac (some do support both). You need a printer that supports your particular computer platform. This information is printed on the side of the printer's box, or you can open your Internet browser, navigate to the printer's manufacturing site and select the particular printer in question to see its specifications.

Step 2

Find out what operating system the printer supports. Newer printers (such as those that are compatible with Windows 7) typically support older versions of the operating system also.

Step 3

Check the cable connection. Most new printers can connect to your computer through either a USB or wireless connection. If you are using an older computer with only serial connection ports you must purchase a USB-to-serial adapter in order to use the computer with the laptop. Similarly, you may need an adapter to connect an older printer with a newer computer.

Step 4

Look up the printer on its manufacturer's site and search for available drivers. If you are using a newer laptop with an older printer you'll need the upgraded driver. If no drivers are available for the new operating system, then your laptop is not compatible with the printer.

Step 5

Alternatively, check your computer for available printer drivers. For example, if you'd like to use a non-USB or wireless printer with a Windows 7 computer, search for the driver by navigating through "Control Panel > View Devices and Printers > Add a Printer > Add a Local Printer." Choose a printer port and click "Next." In the "Install a Printer Driver" screen, select the printer's manufacturer in the left-side menu, then search for the specific printer in the right-side menu.