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Everyday printing  >  Printing tips & how-tos

Getting started with wireless printing

Learn about the benefits of having a wireless home network and what you need to set one up.

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Content starts here

»  Benefits of wireless printing
»  Differences between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
»  Connect your existing printer to a wireless home network
»  Add Bluetooth to your printer
»  Upgrade to a new printer with built-in wireless
»  Wireless glossary
»  Learn more

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Benefits of wireless printing

Going wireless means you can enjoy the reason you bought your notebook to begin with—to be free and connected at the same time.

Wireless printing is convenient for many reasons:

  • Mobility
    You bought your notebook for a reason: to be unencumbered. A wireless home network gives you that freedom with 300 feet of coverage. Print from anywhere in the house (or from the backyard, for that matter). Take out the extra step of having to e-mail documents or photos from one computer to another just to print them. 
  • No wires
    Free yourself. No need to bother with a tangled mess of cords trying to connect your computer and printer.

    Going wireless means you can enjoy the reason you bought your notebook to begin with—to be free and connected at the same time.

  • Shared printing
    No need for the whole family to fight over the same computer anymore. Every computer on your wireless network can connect to the same printer (instead of having to be physically connected to the printer).

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Girl printing from her room. Mother printing from the den
With a home wireless network, several people can print to the same printer from anywhere in the house.

Differences between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are wireless solutions, but there are two primary reasons these technologies are different.

  • Range
    Wi-Fi has a range of around 300 feet, so you can position your printer in a central location for everyone to use.

    Commonly, Bluetooth printing works best at a distance less than 30 feet. So, you’ll want to position your printer relatively close to your Bluetooth-enabled device.

  • Transmission rate
    Wi-Fi sends data at a brisk 55 Mbps, so you can print quickly and send larger files, like photos, to the printer without bogging down the network.

    Bluetooth is a bit slower, but more common in portable devices, such as cell phones and some digital cameras.

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Range comparison between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Range comparison between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
* Megabits per second
** Kilobits per second

Connect your existing printer to a wireless home network

For printers without built-in wireless, the HP wireless printing upgrade kit  is the ideal solution. It works with nearly all HP printers and PCs—even many non-HP printers. And setting up this kit couldn’t be easier.

Step 1: Turn off the HP printer.

Step 2: Use the USB cable to attach the printer adapter to the USB port on the back of your HP printer (pictured at right). 

Step 3: Plug in the power cord to the printer adapter.

Step 4: Turn the printer on.

Step 5: Insert the HP Wireless Printing Upgrade Kit software CD into your computer’s drive.

Step 6: Click Install and follow the onscreen instructions.

In a few easy steps, you’re ready to print wirelessly!

NOTE: Currently, this product is not Mac compatible.

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HP wireless upgrade kit
Add Wi-Fi capabilities to your printer with an easy-to-install kit.

Diagram of wireless upgrade kit installation.
Your wireless receiver plugs into your printer’s rear USB port, while the transmitter plugs into one of your computer’s USB ports.

Add Bluetooth to your printer

With Bluetooth available on many cell phones, PDAs, laptops, and digital cameras, adding it to your printer is the perfect printing solution for photos stored on these devices.

Setting up an HP Bluetooth adapter on the printer side is easy: simply remove the cover and plug it into a USB port on the front of your printer.

The next step is to pair your device with your printer. Follow your device’s manual for this process (usually a couple of simple steps in itself).

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Diagram showing installation of HP Bluetooth adapter.
Add Bluetooth to your printer with a simple plug-in device like this one from HP.

Upgrade to a new printer with built-in wireless

The list of wireless devices is growing everyday: digital cameras, phones, PDA’s, and more. Future-proof your next purchase and be free of the mess and frustration of cords forever. Buy an HP Photosmart All-in-One with Wi-Fi built in (some models even have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on board). Setup is simple and everyone in the house can print wirelessly to the same printer.

Explore our Wireless printer buying guide to find the model that’s perfect for you. Here are a few of our favorites:

For a document-printing workhorse equipped with wireless, there’s the HP Deskjet 6988.

Tip: If you buy a complete wireless system (computer, printer and router) you should set up the computer first, the router next and the printer last.

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Wireless glossary

Make sure you understand these commonly used terms.

Wireless Router: Device that connects all your network devices (Desktops, Notebooks, Printers) and also connects them to the internet via your broadband access point.

SSID: Wireless network name. Wireless routers have a default SSID which may be the same for every router made by the manufacturer. This should be changed to something unique and meaningful to the user to distinguish from other wireless routers in the area.

Encryption: A way to protect the user's wireless network from unwelcome users. Only devices that know the name of your wireless network can find and decode network communications. The most common types of encryption are WEP and WPA.

WEP Key: Easily cracked and not recommended unless using an older device that only supports WEP key.

WPA Passphrase: More secure and should be used whenever possible. The longer the passphrase, the more secure the wireless network.

Mac Address Filtering: It is assumed these measures will increase security, but this isn't true. Enabling Mac address filtering and disabling broadcasting of the network name will make the setup and use of the wireless network more difficult.

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Learn more

Also, did you know you can print without even using your computer? It’s true, and we show you how in our Printing photos without a PC article. You can also print straight from your camera phone.

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