Print from Surface RT or Pro

Print from Surface RT

So, you want to print from Surface RT or Surface Pro? It’s actually pretty easy but you may run into some compatibility issues when using the Surface RT.

This is because the RT can only get drivers from Windows Update so if you have a printer that’s not supported by Microsoft, you won’t be able to print to it. Fortunately, most newer printers are supported; however, if you have a 4 year old Cannon printer lying around, it probably won’t work.

You can save yourself some time and frustration by checking the Surface RT.

The Surface Pro, on the other hand, doesn’t really have any compatibility issues as you can install drivers from the printer manufacturer. This means if there is a Windows driver for the printer (preferably a Windows 8 driver) then you’re probably good to go.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s go ahead and show you how to get your printer installed.

Before you Begin

If you have a wireless printer or are trying to connect to a shared printer on your network, follow these steps. For these instructions, we’re going to assume you have the printer powered on, connected to the network/shared and working correctly.

If the printer is being shared by another computer, you may need to make sure you’ve joined the proper HomeGroup. You can get instructions for doing that here but I’d wait to see if you need to do it before bothering with it.

Setup Wireless Printing in Metro

Follow these instructions to setup a wireless or shared printer from within the Metro interface.

  • Make sure the printer is “awake” – not in sleep mode.
  • Swipe in from the right of the screen to bring up the Charms Bar.
  • Select Settings then tap Change PC settings.
  • Tap Devices.
  • Look for your printer in the list of devices (just to make sure it’s not already installed).

  • If it’s not already there, tap Add a Device.

  • The “Searching for devices” window will appear, it might take a minute to find it.

  • Once your printer shows up in the list, tap on it

  • The printer will install drivers, again this might take a minute.

  •  And that should do it. After the printer finishes installing it will appear in your device list.

Setup Wireless Printing in Desktop Mode

Sometimes, the Metro method doesn’t quite work. This can be for a few reasons, for example if there’s more than one driver that would work for your model. Fortunately, the desktop method for adding a printer works and actually seems more reliable than the Metro version.

In addition, this method is the only one that will allow you to add 3rd party drivers on a Pro. Here’s how to do it:

  • Swipe in from the right of the screen to bring up the Charms bar.
  • Open the Search charm, type “devices”.
  • Tap the Settings charm.
  • Tap Devices and Printers from the results.

  • The Devices and Printers window will appear on the desktop. Tap Add a printer.

  • The Add Printer window will appear and start searching for available printers. If your Surface doesn’t find the printer automatically, make sure the printer didn’t go into sleep mode and is working correctly. If it still doesn’t work, tap The printer that I want isn’t listed and manually enter the path to the printer.
  • Tap Next.

  • Next, it will ask you which driver you want to use. This is because many of the drivers from Windows Update are generic and may work for multiple printers. It also means that you may have to try more than one of the drivers to get one that works for you.
    • If you have a Surface RT, the list you see are your only choices.
    • If you have a Surface Pro, however, you can click the Have Disc button and load a 3rd party driver.
  • Tap Next.

  • Next, you’ll be asked to name the printer. By default, it will go with the name of the driver. Usually, you’ll want something that makes a bit more sense than something like “Brother Laser Type 1 Driver”.
  • Tap Next when you’re happy with the name.

  • If you have a Surface Pro, you will then be asked if you want to share the printer. I can’t think of too many instances where this would be a good idea so go ahead and select Do not share this printer.
  • Tap Next.

  • If you’ve had that printer driver loaded in the past, the system will ask you if you want to keep the existing driver or replace it. It’s your call but I usually go with Replace the current driver as it may be a slightly updated version.
  • Tap Next.

That’s it. You’ve successfully gotten setup to print from Surface RT or Surface Pro. You should now see the printer appear under Printers like the example below.

Add a local printer

One huge advantage a Surface RT or Surface Pro has over something like an iPad is the built-in USB port. This means that if all else fails, you can print directly to a USB printer.

All you have to do is plug the USB cable from your printer into the USB port on your Surface then use the same steps as the wireless printer setup.

Set or change your default printer

Once you have a printer setup, you’re probably going to want to make it the default if it isn’t the only printer you have configured. To do that, follow these steps.

  • Swipe in from the right of the screen to bring up the Charms bar.
  • Open the Search charm, type devices and printers.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Devices and Printers from the results.
  • Find your printer in the Printer section.
  • Press and hold the printer you want to make the default, and then choose Set as default printer.

Now when you print, the printer you just set as default will be the one your Surface tries to use first. Next, we’ll learn how to actually print from a Surface in Metro.

Print from Surface RT or Surface Pro

Once you have added a printer, you’re ready to print. For desktop apps, it’s pretty much the same as it has been for the past 20 years so, we’re not going to go over it.

Metro apps, however, aren’t quite as intuitive. It’s not hard to print from Metro apps, just different than you might expect.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to do it:

  • Open what you want to print. For example, a web page in Internet Explorer.
  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen to bring up the Charms Bar then tap Devices.

  • Tap on your printer from the list. If your printer isn’t listed, it may be because the app doesn’t support printing.

  • Choose your printing options and tap Print.

I hope this helps you get off the ground and able to print from Surface RT or Surface Pro. It’s really a powerful addition to the capabilities of such a versatile platform.

As always, if you have any questions or comments just let me know.


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