Sharing a Printer on an Existing Network

To share a printer on an existing network you need to perform three tasks. It is assumed that you have basic computing skills and know how to highlight and click on icons etc. This document assumes that the network is properly configured with the printer already installed on a computer; it does not explain how to set up any network configurations.

Checking for Networked Computers

The easiest way to check if the computers are on the same network is to go to the computer which has the printer you wish to share and open the icon for ‘My Network Places’ (A) >> ’Entire Network’ (B) >> ‘Microsoft Windows Network’ (C) to see the networks; then select the network (D) and look for the computer name you are interested in (E). In the picture below I have followed those steps, shown by the red letters, to locate the computer ‘Dilah’ on the Glandwr’ local network.

Sharing the Printer

The easiest way to share the printer is to go to open the icon for ‘Control Panel’ (F) >> ’Printers and Faxes’ (G) >> the icon for the printer you are sharing (H) and them click the right hand button to open the floating menu and select ‘Properties’ to display the properties window. Click on the radio button (circle) beside ‘Share this printer’ (I) and activate the ‘Apply’ button (J).

The icon for the printer and the printer properties panel should change and be like the picture below in (K) and (L). Close and exit all windows clicking on the ‘Apply’ and ‘OK’ buttons as required.

Adding a Network Printer

Go to the computer you wish to access the printer from then using the processes in (F) and (G) open the ‘Printers and Faxes’ window and select the “Add Printer’ (J) icon. This will open the Wizard, select the ‘Next’ button, select the option as in (M) and ‘Next’.

This will open this window you can choose ‘Browse for a printer’ or ‘Connect to this printer’ as in (N) . If you know the name of the computer and the printer you could enter the details in the second option as \\{computer name}\{printer name}; for example the printer shared earlier could be entered as \\Bywater\Magicolor in the second option..

In most cases you will select ‘Browse for a printer’ and see a window like below listing the networks available to you. It will usually list the shared printers on the network followed by a list of the computers which can be expanded to show the printers by clicking on the + symbol on the left. Find the required printer and highlight it (O), then select next and follow the wizard instructions to complete the installation..

The New Network Layout

There are no changes to your existing network, in layout or how it works. All the above does is allow you to use your network to print at other printers on the network by making those resources visible and available to the other computers; this way you can have different types of printers attached to different computers and any computer can use any of the shared printers.

NB: In some cases if you have different operating systems on the computers, eg two computers with Windows XP Pro and one with Windows 98, you may have to load the printer drivers specific for that operating system onto the computer to allow it to use the shared printer as it will need those instructions to talk to the printer properly.

In a network with 4 PCs and 3 printers with printer A (colour printer) connected to PC 1, printer B (A4 laser) connected to PC 2, no printer on PC 3 and printer C (A3 laser) connected to PC 4.

The only difference is that in the pre-shared layout you had to be working on PC 4 to print on printer C which was installed on it, on PC 1 to print on printer A which was installed on it, and cannot print at all from PC 3 which has no installed printer. In the shared layout all three shared printers are visible and available to all 4 printers and can be used from any computer. Alternatively you may wish to share on printers B and C in which case you could print to those from any PC and would have to be using PC 1 to use printer A; which you share is your choice.

Copyright by Ernest E Bywater, 26 Sept 2004