It’s now the future and we were promised it would be paperless. We could go chase after the people that promised us this, but we’d never find them – they’re buried behind paper boxes. So here we are, needing to print and we want to do it wirelessly, because we’re not tethered to stuff otherwise… unless our phones are dying. The challenge is posed – how can we print wirelessly without a wireless printer? Good news – you have some options!

Your Printer has a Network Plug

First, check for an Ethernet/network connection on the printer – the plug looks like an oversized phone jack that matches the plugs on your router. Typically this plug is found on the back or side of a printer, although some multifunction devices will have these plugs tucked away under the document feeder. If you can’t find this type of plug, double check the instruction manual for your printer, easily found on the manufacturer’s website. If you do have a network connection, you’re in luck! Although your printer may not be wireless, you can quickly connect it to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable and perform the set up within your OS/printer software. You’re now the proud owner of a wireless printer!

Your Router Has a USB Port

Now if you’ve looked all over and your printer only has a USB port, don’t get nervous. I’ve got you covered, too. Remember that dusty wireless router you’ve got? If it’s a modern version, you may still be in luck. Many hardware manufacturers didn’t believe the paperless hype. Have a closer look at that router of yours – do you see a USB port on it? If so, go to your router manufacturer’s website and look up your model. The manufacturer will provide you details on the compatibility of the USB port on your device, which could include supporting your printer. You may have to install a small piece of free software on each computer that wants to use the printer, but the process is typically pretty painless. All it takes is connecting your machine and the printer using a USB cord and potentially setting up the software. If your router only supports flash drives and hard drives on the USB port, stick with me.

You Have an Old Router with a USB Port

In our quest for the latest and greatest router with the longest reach, we sometimes mothball our old hardware – you know, just in case. You may find your current router has a USB port that’s only for storage devices, but your old router also has a USB port. Once you’ve followed the steps above to verify that your old (really) dusty router can connect a printer, you’ve got a new mystery to solve. How do you connect your old router to your new router!? Glad you asked! If you have your printer and old router away from your new router and you don’t/can’t move anything, there’s still hope. Access the setup menu of your old router and activate bridge mode. This will prevent the old router from trying to manage the network and instead will be another device on your network like your phone or tablet. Then, follow the steps for setting up the printer. Remember, all the instructions for your particular router and printer will be available on the manufacturers’ websites. If all your devices can be near one another, you can even connect the old router to the new router via a network cable for a great connection. Again, do this after you’ve switched the old router to bridge mode.

You Have a Second Computer with the Printer Plugged Into It

If you find yourself with a router that doesn’t have a USB port or doesn’t support a printer, and you don’t have an old router that does, if you have a computer permanently attached to your printer there’s still hope! The major operating systems have a little-known feature that you’re sure to love – printer sharing. This feature allows your printer to remain permanently connected to one computer, while you send wireless print jobs to it through your preferred computer. This setup requires that the computer connected to the printer remain powered on when using the printer. The exact instructions to set this up will depend upon your operating system and the version. Access your favorite search engine and look up printer sharing and the operating system you use for detailed instructions on setting up this configuration.

We are all trying to rush to that paperless future as quickly as we can, but in the meantime, use these tools to get you by during that 3 am print job. If you’ve found this guide helpful, share it with your friends.

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Nan Palmero

Written By

Nan Palmero

He is an experienced business leader, coach and consultant to CEOs and executives. Nan's technological expertise and common sense approach have made others tap him as their Nerd to English translator. He's an award-winning photographer, committed to the development of both mind and heart, and a newlywed to the most patient wife.

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