Printers: Wireless printing explained How to connect a wireless printer

Wifi printer

Plenty of printers have wi-fi, like the Canon Pixma MX870.

With a wireless printer it's easy to print from multiple computers, tablets and smartphones. You don't have to be in the same room, or in some cases the same building, as the printer to be able to print. 

But before you can start printing you must first connect the printer to your home network - you'll need is a wireless router and a wi-fi printer.

Read our guide to buying a wireless router if you need one and check our reviews to find the best wi-fi printers.

Connect to a wireless network

Printers with colour screens display step-by-step instructions for setting up the wireless connection when you first turn on the printer. They're easy to follow, even if the screen is quite small and you're not overwhelmed with information - you can only progress one step at a time.

If you don’t set up the wireless connection during the start-up process you can set it up later. Look for the wireless set-up 'wizard' within ‘wireless settings’ or ‘networking’ in the printer’s menu.

There’s more that one way of connecting to a wireless network, and you may be offered a few different options for setting up the connection.

Wi-fi set up using WPS

If your printer and router are both compatible with Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) this should be an option in the printer’s network menu.

If so, when prompted, all you need to do is press the WPS button on your router and the corresponding button on the printer to wirelessly connect the printer to the network.

Wi-fi Auto connect

This feature is mostly available on Epson printers and is very easy to use. You can use it if computer is already set up on your wi-fi network.

Selecting Wi-fi Auto connect, the printer looks at the network your computer is on and then uses this information to connect itself to the wi-fi network. It may take a minute to connect, but it quick and done with a press of a button.

Connecting using a network key or PIN

If your printer doesn’t have WPS, you’ll probably have to enter a ‘network key’ – a series of numbers and letters – into the printer using the function buttons and screen on the printer in order to establish the connection between your printer and router.

Provided you haven't changed it, the network key will be in your router’s documentation, or on a label on the router.

Already got your printer set up on your wireless network? You may be able to print wirelessly to it from your mobile phone. Read our introduction to mobile printing explained to find out more.

More on this...