How to share a printer: You have finally managed to connect two PCs and create a small home network with different machines and operating systems. But now you have a problem: you have tried to print documents from one of the computers connected to the network but the printer, which is connected by cable to the first PC, is not detected. Unfortunately it happens but, don’t worry, by making a few small changes in the Windows Control Panel you will be able to share a printer between multiple computers without problems.
To find out what the changes I’m talking about, keep reading: find all the information you need right below. Whether you have a Windows PC or a Mac, rest assured, you will be able to solve all your printer-related connection problems.
In the tutorial I will mainly deal with the most recent versions of Windows (Windows 10, Windows 8.x and Windows 7) but there are also some steps dedicated to the old Vista and XP. On the Mac side, however, the instructions included in the guide concern all the most recent versions of macOS: from Mountain Lion onwards. Enjoy your reading and have fun!
How to share a printer on Windows
Assuming that the primary PC to which you connected the printer is equipped with a recent version of Windows (Windows 10, Windows 8.x or Windows 7), the first step you must take is to make sure that all the related options are activated on the latter. sharing files and printers.
Then click on the button Start (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen) and select the item Control panel from the menu that appears. On Windows 8.x and later you need to search for the term panel in Start and select the icon Control panel classic that appears in the search results.
In the window that opens, first click on the icon related to Network and sharing and then on that of Home Group. If there is no Homegroup set up on your computer yet, fix the problem by clicking the button Create a homegroup and following the guided procedure that is proposed to you. During the procedure you must choose to share the files of your interest (eg. Images, Video And Papers) and especially Printers and devices.
When the configuration is complete, you will be shown the homegroup passwordwhich you will have to write down in a safe place as it will allow you to put your PC in communication with the other computers on which to use the printer.
If the Homegroup is already active on your PC, check that the sharing option is activated printers and devices and click on the item View or print the homegroup password (below) to view the password required to establish the connection with other PCs.
Now there are a couple more checks you need to do to make sure your PC is set up correctly for printer sharing over the network. Then go back to the home page of Control panelmove to Network and Internet> Network and Sharing Center and click on the item Change advanced sharing settings located in the left sidebar.
At this point, expand the section first Domestic or work (Private on Windows 8.ex and later) and then that Public (Guest or Audience on Windows 8.x and later) and, if it is not present, put the check mark next to the item Enable file and printer sharing.
If you want to make the network printer available to all users without restrictions or passwords, put the check mark next to the item Disable password protected sharing and click on the button Save changes / Save changes to save the settings.
You are now ready to activate printer sharing on the network. How? I’ll explain it to you right away. Close the control panel, click on the button Start and go to Devices and printers (on Windows 8.x and later you have to search for “devices and printers“In Start and click on the first search result).
In the window that opens, right-click on the printer you want to share on the network and select the item Printer properties> [Nome della stampante] from the menu that appears. Then go to the tab Sharingput the check mark next to the item Share the printertype in the field Share name the name you want to assign to the printer and first click on Apply and then on OK to save the changes.
Now switch to the other PC with which you want to share the printer and start the procedure to add a new printer. Go therefore in Devices and printersclick on the button Add printer located at the top and select the item Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer to start searching for printers on the network.
As soon as the name of the printer shared with the other PC appears, select it and click on the button Forward to start installing the printer on your computer. At this juncture, Windows connects to the service Windows Update to download the printer drivers but the operation does not always succeed. If Windows fails to download the drivers from the Internet, you must do it manually with the device installation disk and then start the procedure for adding the network printer again.
Use shared printers on older versions of Windows
If you want to share a printer with a computer on which it is installed Windows XPclick on the button Start and select the item Printers and faxes from the menu that appears. In the window that opens, click on the item Add printer located in the left sidebar, put the check mark next to the item Network printer or printer connected to another computer and click on Forward twice consecutively to start the search and then the installation of the printer.
To add a shared printer on a PC equipped with Windows Vistaclick the button instead Start and go to the Control panel. In the window that opens, click on Hardware and soundthen on Add printer and follow the same procedure as above for newer versions of Windows.
How to share a printer on Mac
Do you want to share your Windows PC printer with a Mac? This can also be done. You open System Preferences (the gear icon located in the Dock bar) and select Printers and scanners from the window that opens. Then press the button [+] located in the left sidebar, move to the tab Windows and first select the workgroup to which the PC to which the printer is connected belongs (ex. workgroup), then the computer name and finally that of print server.
When completed, expand the drop down menu located at the bottom of the window, click on the option related to choice of software and select the name of the printer to be configured on the Mac in order to download the drivers necessary for its operation.
Note: if the Mac fails to “see” the PC to which the printer is connected, go to the tab IP and type the local IP address of the computer in the appropriate text field. To find out the local IP address of the computer the printer is connected to, open Command Prompt and issue the command ipconfig. The address you need to type on the Mac is the one next to the entry IPv4 address. Once you have typed the address on the Mac, wait a few seconds for the connection to be established with the PC to which the printer was connected, go back to the Windows tab and you should finally be able to “see” the computer in the list of network devices.
If you want to share a printer from macOS to other computers, go to System Preferences> Sharingput the check mark next to the item Printer sharingselect the printer to share from the central pane and that’s it.
For more information on the entire procedure, take a look at Apple’s official documentation relating toadding printers from Windows and to sharing printers from macOS (The instructions are for Yosemite but also apply to the most recent versions of the Apple operating system).
Share a Wi-Fi printer
If the printer to be shared is Wi-Fi and all the computers on your network support wireless Internet connection, to use the same printer on all machines, just install the driver and the software device on all computers and start the document printing process normally by selecting the Wi-Fi printer as Wi-Fi.
Also, I remind you that many routers offer USB ports to which you can connect printers that do not have wireless support and use them on the network with all the computers in your home or office. For more information, see my guide on how to connect a wifi printer to a PC.