It’s not difficult…unless…

Adding a printer to a Mac notebook or laptop, like a Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, or IMac, is a simple procedure 99% of the time. One percent of the time it’s a hassle. Let’s hope your installation is hassle-free!

Designated Driver

Apple System Preferences window

To begin, most new printers will come with compatible drivers. But if you’re pairing a new printer with an older computer (or vice versa), one or both of your devices many need a software upgrade and/or driver update. 

Here’s how it should work

  1. Click the Apple menu, then click System Preferences.
  2. Depending on your operating system version, click Print & Fax, Print & Scan, or Printers & Scanners.
  3. Check if the name of your printer displays in the Printers list. Then do one of the following steps, depending on if the printer is listed or not.
    • If your printer is listed, remove and re-add the printer to confirm communication and to make sure the correct driver is used. Click the name of your printer, then click the minus sign to delete the printer. Once the printer is removed, click the plus sign. Click Add Printer or Scanner, click the name of your printer, then continue to the next step.
    • If your printer is not listed, click the plus sign. Click Add Printer or Scanner, click the name of your printer, then continue to the next step.
    • If your printer is not listed in the Add Printer or Scanner window, make sure the printer is connected to the Mac with a USB cable, or that it is on the same wired or wireless network as your Mac.
  4. Click the Use or Print Using menu, then select the name of your printer.
  5. If you can’t find your specific printer driver listed, select a Generic driver from the Use menu. This can result in limited printer functionality.
  6. Click Add to add the printer to the list. If you are prompted to install software, click Download and Install to complete the installation.
  7. Close the System Preferences window.
  8. Try to print, scan, or fax.
    • If you can print, scan, or fax, you installed the driver correctly. Woo-hoo!
    • If you cannot print, scan, or fax, check out some of the troubleshooting tips below:

      The Printer and Scanners window

Mac Printer Troubleshooting Tips

What if my printer is not connected, found, or listed during the installation?

For Apple Software Update to install the correct driver and to add the printer to your list of devices on the Mac, the printer must connect to the Mac with a USB cable or through a wired or wireless network. 

Check the status of your printer connection. If it is not connected, follow the steps to connect it to the computer or network.

  • Wireless network connection: On the printer, open the Wireless network or Settings menu to make sure the wireless signal is turned on. If the network name displays on the printer, make sure it is the same network the Mac connects to. Make sure the light next to the Wireless icon is on and steady (connected to a network). If the light is blinking, it is broadcasting a signal but not connected. Try moving the printer closer to the router. 

    Mac’s Add A Printer window

  • Wired network connection: Make sure the cable is connected to the printer Ethernet port and to an available port on the router. The green link light should be steady, and the orange activity light should blink.
  • USB connection: Make sure the cable is securely connected to the printer and to a working USB port on the computer. Try a different port or cable if the connection continues to fail.

How do I scan with this driver?

Depending on your printer and driver, the scan button might not work. This doesn’t mean your printer is unable to scan. Instead, use Apple Image Capture.

Apple Image Capture comes with macOS and OS X and provides a simple way to scan a document or photo. Image Capture does not support scanning to email, or scanning as editable text.

  1. Place the document or photo printed side down on the scanner glass, then close the lid. If your printer has an automatic document feeder (ADF), you can use it to scan multiple pages at one time.
  2. Open Finder, click Go in the top menu bar, click Applications, then double-click Image Capture. Click your printer name in the Devices or Shared list.
  3. Click Show Details at the bottom of the screen.
  4. A preview of the scan displays, then change any of the following settings:
    • Scan Mode: Select the scanning bed or automatic document feeder, depending on where you loaded the original on the printer.
    • Kind: Set scan as color, black and white, or optimized for text only documents.
    • Resolution: Higher resolution produces better quality images by using more dots (pixels) per inch. Higher resolution increases the file size of the scan.
    • Size: Use a standard paper size, or select Custom Size.
    • Scan to: Select the folder you want scans to save to.
    • Name: Type a name for the saved scan file.
    • Format: Select the file type for the scan.
    • NOTE: Select the PDF or TIFF format, then select the box next to Combine Into Single Document to save multiple documents or images into a single file.
    • Image Correction: Click the pop up menu, then select Manual to change options such as brightness and saturation.
  5. Click Scan.The scan saves in the selected “Scan to” folder.

Why can’t I scan after installing the driver?

If you successfully added the new printer queue and you still cannot scan, check for updates, confirm that a scan driver is available for your printer, then try manually installing the driver.

What if the installation failed or the printer software is unavailable?

If a message such as “Software currently unavailable for this device” displays, the download failed, or you cannot print, try these recommendations and procedures to troubleshoot the issue.

  • Make sure the Mac has latest updates installed: Run Apple Software Update to ensure your computer has the most current updates installed, then try adding the new printer queue again.
  • Make sure the Mac has a connection to the Internet: Without an Internet connection, Apple Software Update cannot locate the latest print driver.
  • Drivers for your printer might not release immediately after a new operating system version releases to the public: The amount of time for a driver to release can vary. Try the steps in this document again periodically to check if the driver released.
  • Try using AirPrint: AirPrint might be an option if you are connected over a network. Remove then re-add the printer to the Mac, then select AirPrint, if available, from the Use or Print Using menu in the Add window.

How do I change print quality and color settings with this driver?

You can adjust color, quality and paper settings before printing a document or photo. Available settings and menu names vary depending on the app and the printer model.

  1. Open the photo or document, click File, then click Print.
  2. Select your printer, then select an option from the Presets menu that applies to your print job or paper type.
  3. Click Show Details to view more print settings options.
  4. Select Paper Type/Quality or Media & Quality from the unnamed menu at the center of the window, then change any quality and color settings, including print resolution dots per inch (dpi).
    • Quality or Print Quality: Select Draft (lowest dpi typically used for plain text documents), Normal (default quality setting), Best (better dpi than normal), or Maximum dpi (highest dpi setting available – only available for some printers when photo paper is selected).
    • Higher dpi means more clear and detailed photos or sharper text in a document, but can slow down print speeds. See your printer specifications for print speeds (measured in pages-per-minute) for each of these quality settings.
    • Color Options (if available): Click the triangle to display the Color menu, then select ColorSmart/sRGB (for color prints) or Grayscale (for options to print in with multiple shades of gray or with black ink only).
    • Photo Fix (if available): In the Color Options section, select On from this menu to automatically focus and sharpen photos.
  5. Select Layout from the unnamed menu at the center of the window, then click the Border menu for options to add or remove a border.
  6. Click Print.

Remove a printer

Need to remove a printer from your available printers list? It’s easy! Just select the printer you want gone and click the minus button on the lower left part of the printer list screen. Bam! Gonzo! If you delete the printer that’s set as your default printer, macOS selects another printer as your default. To set a different printer as your default, choose it from the pop-up menu in Printers & Scanners preferences.

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The Mac Guy makes it look easy in the video below!