How to Determine if a Printer is Compatible With Windows XP

By Nick Davis

The Windows XP system is compatible with new as well as older printers.
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Your Windows XP system is compatible with a variety of devices and software. To determine if a printer you have in your office or one you want to purchase is compatible with your Windows XP system, all you need is the printer’s technical documentation or the printer’s website to see if a print driver is available for your system. You can also use a generic printer driver to interface the printer electronically with your Windows XP system if you cannot obtain the printer’s documentation.

Printer’s Documentation

The fastest way to determine if a printer is compatible with Windows XP is to obtain the printer’s manual and look under the “System Requirements” or similar-worded heading for the wording “Windows XP.” You can obtain a printer’s manual or technical documentation by navigating to the printer manufacturer's support website and downloading the printer’s manual. You will need the printer's name and model number from the front or bottom of the printer to complete the search and manual download process. The manual or technical documentation clearly states Windows compatibility as well as the type of connection cable you will need for the printer.

Printer’s Driver

Another way to determine if a printer is compatible with Windows XP is to navigate to the device’s website and search for a compatible Windows XP driver. Printer drivers are usually under the “Drivers” or “Drivers and Support” area of a printer manufacturer’s website and are free to download and install. The printer driver package will prompt you via a wizard to install the driver first before connecting the printer.

Obsolete Printers

For printers that are obsolete and do not contain a manufacturer website, you will have to do some digging to find online documentation and/or drivers for the printers. Enter the printer’s name and model number into a search engine to determine if another company purchased the printer’s manufacturer. The new company may include documentation on the printer and a driver for installing the printer. If possible, try to locate the printer’s installation CD-ROM and use it to load drivers on to your Windows XP system for the printer.

Generic Printer Driver

If all else fails, you can install a printer on your Windows XP system using a generic printer driver, also known as the Generic/Text Only printer driver, via the Add Printer wizard. The installation wizard walks you through selecting a basic printer driver that enables you to output documents only. Some of the printer’s features may not be available, including the capability to print special characters or scan documents if the printer is an all-in-one unit. When installing a generic printer driver, connect the printer to your computer first to launch the Add Printer wizard, and then follow the on-screen prompts to complete the printer installation process.