Sometimes you have to manually add a TCP/IP printer in Windows 10. For example, I have an older HP Laserjet 4100 with a Jetdirect network card in it that I use to print from all of my PCs over my local area network (LAN). Getting Windows 10 to print to it isn’t difficult but it’s hardly intuitive.
If you have your network printer already set up but just need to change its IP address, I covered that here. If you want to share a locally attached printer with other computers on your network, you can do that too.
Printing straight to the TCP/IP address of the printer is convenient. It means you don’t have to have another computer on when you want to print.
Add a TCP/IP printer in Windows 10
You can find the option buried in the control panel, but there’s a much faster way to get there. First, click in the search bar at the lower left of the screen, next to the Start button. Type “printers and scanners” (without the quotes) in the bar and hit enter. When the printers and scanners applet comes up, click on it to launch it.
Look for the option that says add a printer. Select add a printer. An option in blue will appear pretty quickly that reads the printer I want isn’t listed. Click that option.
A familiar dialog box pops up at this point, giving several options. If you’ve used earlier versions of Windows, you’ve seen this dialog box before. One of the radio buttons reads “Add a printer by TCP/IP address or hostname.” Click that option, then click Next.
At this point you’re almost done. Enter the hostname or IP address of the printer, check the box to query the printer about the driver, and click Next. You can usually leave the device type set to autodetect and leave the port blank, but the most common port number for printing is 9100. Some print servers have multiple ports to serve multiple printers, so you can specify the port if you need to. You’ll also want to check the box that says query the printer and automatically select the driver to use. This option saves you a step when it works.
From then on, click Next, enter a printer name, click Next, choose whether you want to print a test page, and click Finish. And that’s how you add a TCP/IP printer in Windows 10, if Windows 10 doesn’t just do it for you.
Why isn’t this automatic?
If you have a newer printer that has universal plug and play, chances are Windows will find the printer automatically and configure it for you. I don’t think UPnP existed in 2001 when my Laserjet 4100 came out, so it doesn’t have UPnP. That means I have to do a little bit of manual configuration to get it working. It’s not bad, it’s just different from any previous version of Windows, including 8.1.
Ironically, Linux distributions find my old HP printer without me having to do anything. Maybe in a future build, Microsoft will make this easier.
Fortunately, with a little bit of typing, you can get your old printer working in the newest version of Windows. You don’t have to leave your old printer behind. That’s good, because my old Laserjet 4100 is a reliable and economical workhorse.
If by some chance you need to add a generic printer to Windows 10, the process is similar. And since you’re running Windows 10, you might want to check out my tips for optimizing Windows 10’s performance.