Tech & The Web

Why Can’t a Wireless Printer Work Wirelessly?


I just returned my third consecutive wireless printer. They work fine for a few days…but then a mysterious problem suddenly develops.

I really wish my last wireless printer never died. I think I must have found the last one that actually worked properly.

When I tried to replace it over the last couple of months, I ran into problem after problem.

My computer is a Mac. (Always will be.)

But I tried two different brands of wireless inkjet printers. Both are brands you’ve heard of before. They’re good brands. They make good, reliable products.

I installed the first one, which looked to be as close to my old one as I could find. It worked immediately. Over the first two or three days, I printed several items.

However, a funny thing happened a week later: the computer couldn’t see the printer. The printer couldn’t see the computer. Both were still on my Wifi network.

The lack of a wire in a wireless printer is only part of the problem.

As the name implies, you don’t connect a wireless printer to your computer by a cable. You connect it through a Wifi connection. Thus, the wireless part.

You turn on your printer and go to a website it specifies. That serves as the control page for that printer’s wireless setup. You select your Wifi network and enter the password, which somehow makes its way to the printer.

Then, you tell the computer to look for the printer. It finds it, they connect, shake hands virtually and then you’re set.

For about a week.

Then, you go back to print something and suddenly there’s a problem. You receive an error: “The printer is not responding.”

The printer, meanwhile, sits blissfully unaware that the computer wants anything printed.

Both remain connected to Wifi. Both just sit there, a couple of feet from one another. But they’re completely ignorant as to each other’s existence.

It’s not that the wireless connection gets lost: both remain connected.

Logically, you assume you can trick the computer by uninstalling and then reinstalling the printer.

That doesn’t help, either. When you try to re-add the printer, the computer can’t see it. When you go to the website for the printer, the site can’t be found.

Adding a wire doesn’t solve the issue, either.

I had to spend another $15 or so for a USB printer cable. That way, I thought, I’d force the printer and computer to see either other because they’d be tethered together.

Sure enough, I could print.

But I needed to print a color-coded document in color. When connected by USB, the computer didn’t give me the option to print in color. I could only print in black and white.

The typical “page setup” options where you’d select color printing never appeared.

In technology, this is ‘progress.’

I can’t be the only one who’s experienced this problem.

But I think it’s very telling. Wireless printing isn’t new. The technology has been available for a while.

Once we reach a point in tech that something starts to become “the norm,” we make it more and more difficult to do it any other way. I should be able to connect a printer to a computer via a USB cable and still have full functionality.

Years ago, when I bought my last wireless printer, I could. I did.

Now, that no longer gives you the same level of performance. Printer makers seem to want you to connect solely through Wifi. I’m not sure why. I don’t know why it’d matter.

But when they make it so that doing it the “old fashioned” way doesn’t work as well, you can’t conclude anything else.

So I returned the third printer for a refund.

From now on, I guess I’ll print anything I need a hard copy of at the office.

Maybe, at some point, wireless technology will improve enough that it can print wirelessly for more than 10 days.

That might qualify as a real tech breakthrough!


  1. “Both just sit there, a couple of feet from one another. But they’re completely ignorant as to each other’s existence.” Many marriages end up working that way, although it usually takes a few years, rather than a week. 🙂

  2. P.S. I also do the same for 2T RAID 1 NAS and I can access the network storage from my laptop and tablet. I never tried connecting my smartphone to it.

  3. I use my Wi-Fi network and not connect to the printer directly but rather I have the printer connected to the cable company’s wireless router through a RJ45 socket on the back of the router. I can printer from my laptop, tablet, and smartphone.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.