In this easy Ask the Admin, I’ll show you three ways to add a network printer to Windows 8: Using the add device wizard, using the modern UI, and using PowerShell. Before we get into those specific steps, I’d like to give you some background on how Windows 8 works with networked and shared printers.
Network printers are not shared using a PC or Windows Server, but are directly connected to the network, usually via Ethernet or WiFi, and manage print jobs themselves without the need for a separate server.
There are several different pros and cons to using network printers. In my experience, it’s always easier to manage printers in an enterprise environment when they are shared using Windows Server. But it’s quite common to find printers directly attached to the network, so in this article I’ll show you how to add them to your Windows 8 device.
In most cases, there is no need to differentiate between shared and network printers, both are available on the network as shared resources and you can print to them, and the Add Device wizard is able to detect both network and shared printers.
Nevertheless, if the Add Device wizard is unable to detect your device automatically, it is handy to understand the manual process for adding network printers, as it is a little more complicated than adding shared printers.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of using network printers, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can add one to a Windows 8 client.
I recommend adding printers using the Add Device wizard. The wizard detects printers on the local network, and there’s no need for users to know the name of the server or PC in the case of a shared printer.
Before following the instructions below, make sure that the printer is switched on and connected to the network.
Use the Add Device wizard to add a network printer in Windows 8. (Image: Russell Smith)
Alternatively, or if you are using Windows RT, you can add a printer using the Modern UI interface.
It’s also possible to use PowerShell to add a network printer. You will need to know the DNS name or IP address of the network printer. To use the add-printer cmdlet, the driver for the network printer must already be installed on the PC.
Use PowerShell to add a network printer in Windows 8. (Image: Russell Smith)
If you are unsure of the driver name, type get-printerdriver and press ENTER to see a list of the installed drivers on the PC.