SLIDESHOW

How to Share a Printer Over a Network

You don't need multiple printers just because you have more than one PC. Here's our easy guide to sharing your printer from one computer to another.

Choose Your Printer

Having several computers in your home or office doesn't mean you have to buy several printers, too. If your PCs are connected via a wireless network (or a wired one, for that matter), you can easily share them by turning on Sharing in Windows. To get started, open the Printers and Faxes control panel in Windows XP (simply called Printers in Vista). Right-click on the printer you want to share, and choose Sharing.

Configure the Sharing Properties

In the printer's Properties menu, the Sharing tab should now appear. Click the radio button next to "Share this printer" and give the printer a share name that you will easily recognize. Click OK when you're done. Afterward, the icon in the Printers and Faxes control panel should display a cupped hand on the printer's icon.

Add the Shared Printer to Other PCs

On each of the computers that you would like to use with the shared printer, you will need to add the shared printer. Make sure each of these machines is connected to your network before opening the Control Panel and selecting the Printers and Faxes (in XP) or Printers (in Vista) control panel. Once it's open, click "Add a printer" to proceed. On the next screen, choose "Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer."

Complete the Sharing Setup

Windows will automatically search your network for any shared printers and display its finds in the "Select a printer" window. You should see your newly shared device listed. (If you don't, then there may be a problem with you network settings. See How to Troubleshoot Your Home Network for solutions.) Select it and then click Next. For the vast majority of printers, Windows will automatically download the appropriate driver for you at this point, if it's not already on your system. Your shared printer will now appear in your Printers and Faxes (or Printers) control panel, and should also appear as an option from within the Print menus of all your applications. From here on out, the hardest part of printing over your network should be walking over to the printer to grab your documents.