I’m running Windows 8.1 and want to set up my new Laserjet to print. When I plugged it in, the HP printer connected to my wifi network, so can my Win8 system already see it? How do I print from Windows 8 anyway??
Printers have been the weak link in computer configurations for decades, actually. My first job out of college was actually at Hewlett-Packard in the networking group (in Fort Collins, Colorado. Hello old colleagues!) and one of the things we were wrestling with back then was having computers quickly see and connect with printers. Here we are ((cough)) years later and while migrating more and more smarts onto the printer is helpful, it’s still a curious and confusing task to turn what’s on your screen into something on a piece of paper.
HP’s really taken a leadership position with its latest generations of printers, however, and having wifi and Ethernet connectivity options (so you can plug directly into your local area network as desired) turn out to be a huge help. This is offset by the bizarre approach that Windows 8 takes with printing, however, but with a little bit of fiddling you’ll find that it’s ultimately similar to how you print in earlier versions of Windows.
The really good news is that if you have your printer live on your wifi network then you don’t need to “add it” to your PC computer, it should just be available for use. No kidding.
Let’s start with what you would think would be the logical way to add a printer to a Windows 8 system, however, because it’s so… weird. Start with your Charms Bar:
Click on “Devices”…
Ah, there it is! A printer.
Click on “Print”, however, and this shows up:
This is yet another moment when I have to ask whether in a spate of downsizing Micosoft let go of every single person on the usability team. I mean, how does a user end up here and NOT feel frustrated?
>> deep breath <<
Okay, we’re Windows users. We can handle this. Instead, jump into an app like WordPad and try to print something through the usual “old school” method:
At least we can expect not to see the “you can only print from apps” warning since, well, this is an app.
Choose this and a window shows up that sure looks like something from Windows 7:
Most importantly, notice that my HP LaserJet Pro shows up as an available printer. Twice, in fact, because it’s also marked as a ‘shared printer’ from the MiniMe Mac OS X server on the network. The Microsoft XPS Document Writer? I have no idea what that is but my guess is that it lets me save the printer output as a PDF (something that’s far easier to accomplish on a Mac system, btw).
From this point you already know your way around the print dialog, so I’ll just note that if you don’t see your HP LaserJet printer, it might be because it’s on a different wifi network than your PC computer. If they’re on the same net and the printer isn’t set up to hide itself (the default is to be available to everyone on the LAN) it should just show up.
Oh, and if you’re in Internet Explorer, they’ve kind of tucked the print feature into a funny location:
It’s the “gear” icon just below the red close button that you want. Why? Because it’s… um… I dunno.
Click on that icon, however, and a series of menu choices appear:
And there it is. Find the page you want from the Web, choose Print -> Print… from the gear menu and you’re printing up a storm on your shiny new HP printer.