OS X ships with many printers – or drivers – already installed, so many times you can just plug your printer in with the USB cable and it will work. Your printer came with a CD of software, and you can look in the documents and see if there is anything you want to install and try, but if all you need is the printer to work, that’s all you need to do.
If you get a wireless printer, you can “discover” that printer with Bonjour in Safari. Go to your Bookmarks, and in the left-hand pane will be “Bonjour.” Click that to see what wireless printers are available, and a double-click will help you connect to it. You may need to use the software that came with your printer to set up security with the wireless printer, i.e. such as WEP or WPA encryption, or turn off the encryption to set up the printer and then turn it back on.
Once your printer is working, if you want to install anything else on the printer CD, such as utilities or extra programs, go ahead, and your printer should keep working, as the installer should be able to tell your printer is already isntalled.
If not, you can use Printer Setup Utility, a program in the Utilities folder to set your default printer or remove other drivers you don’t need. Printer Setup Utility is very useful; if you’ve got printing problems and you want to print a test page, completely delete a printer, set a color profile, even check the levels of toner, use that utility.
The reason why many printers work out of the box is called CUPS, or Common Unix Printing System. Under the hood of OS X is Unix, and included with Unix is a printing system. if you’re curious about CUPS, go to http://localhost:631 with your Web browser and login with your administrator name and password. Then you can look around the CUPS interface and check the printers you have installed, manage print jobs, and more.