The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network
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If you’re old enough, you’ll remember the 1990s grandiose promises of a paperless office. You’ll also know it never happened; companies use more paper today than at any time in history.

Our reliance on paper – both at home and in the workplace – means printers are still a vital component in any network. Most printers are now wireless Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Make Your Own Wireless Printer With A Raspberry Pi Fewer cables, flexibility about where you can put your printer – wireless printing is a win-win. Unless you have an older printer. Raspberry Pi to the rescue! Read More . You can connect to them using Wi-Fi. But how do you share an existing printer over a network on Windows?

Luckily, it’s reasonably straightforward. Here’s an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide.

Share the Printer Using Windows Tools

Predictably, the methodology for sharing using the native tools has changed in Windows 10 How to Set Up Your Printer in Windows 10 How to Set Up Your Printer in Windows 10 Printers have a reputation for being difficult to set up. In Windows 10, however, it's actually a breeze. We'll show you how you can get Windows 10 to detect and connect to your printer. Read More . Let’s take a new at the new process.

Share the Printer

Firstly, you need to navigate to the Printers and Scanners menu. It’s been relocated from the Control Panel to the Settings app (Start > Settings > Devices > Printers and Scanners), though you can still find the same menu by going to Control Panel > Devices and Printers.

Find the printer you want to share in the list on the right-hand side of the window. In my case, I want to share the HP Officejet Pro 6830.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer printer menu 670x474

Left-click on the printer’s name, and you’ll see three new buttons. Go to Manage > Printer Properties and you’ll find yourself in an old-school Windows window. From this point, the process is similar to the one used on earlier versions of the operating system.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer printer properties 511x500

Next, click on the Printer Properties’ Share tab and mark the checkbox next to Share This Printer. You need to give the shared printer a name. I recommend entering something simple, others users might need to enter it when the want to load the printer on their own systems.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer share tab 457x500

When you’ve finished, click Apply.

Advanced Settings

The default configuration only allows people to access the newly-shared printer if they know the username and password of the host computer. Furthermore, the printer is not accessible if the host computer is sleeping.

You can change these settings in the Network and Sharing menu. The Sharing tab of the Printer Properties window provides a link. Alternatively, navigate to Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center. At the time of writing, these options are not available in the Windows 10 Settings app.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer network centre 670x255

To remove the password requirement, click Change Advanced Sharing Settings in the left-hand column. Scroll down to All Networks and expand the menu. Under the Password-Protected Sharing sub-menu, mark the check box next to Turn Off Password-Protected Sharing.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer password protect 670x454

It’s important to realize the setting will affect your computer on all networks – both private and public. As such, it’s prudent to disable it when you’re not using a network you trust. Failure to do so could compromise your security.

Connecting to the Printer from Another Computer

Now you’re sharing your printer, but you still need to know how to connect to it from another computer.

On Windows 10, it’s possible to connect using the Settings app. Open the app (Start > Settings) and go to Devices > Printers and Scanners. In the top-right hand corner, you will see a button labeled Add Printer. Click it, and Windows will automatically search for any available shared devices.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer add printer 670x313

Theoretically, your printer should appear after a few seconds. If it does, you can click on its name and select Add Device. Windows will take a couple of minutes to install all the necessary drivers automatically. Once the process is complete, you’ll see a “Ready” message below the printer’s name. You should now be able to select the printer from the drop-down menu when printing a document.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer add device 670x319

If Windows could not find the printer on your network, you need to click on The Printer That I Want Wasn’t Listed. You will be shown various options to add your printer manually. You can search by either printer name, TCP/IP address, or hostname, insert the details manually, or ask Windows to perform a more refined search for older equipment.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Share a Printer Over a Network window 10 share printer manual add

Other Ways to Share Your Printer

Of course, there are other ways to share a printer over a network.

Third-Party App

One of the most popular third-party sharing apps is PrinterShare. The tool supports Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. The app will let you print documents and photos on other people’s printers – both nearby and remote – without the need to perform any of the steps listed in this article.

The app is not free. It’ll cost you $4.99 on the Apple App Store, $9.95 on the Google Play Store, and a monthly fee of $9.95 on Windows or Mac. As such, it’s not suitable for casual home use, but it’s an excellent choice if you’re a work-from-home professional who often needs to use public printers.

Printer Hub

If you have an old printer that’s not Wi-Fi enabled, a clever way to make it available to anyone on your network is to purchase a printer hub. You can pick one up for as little as $8 on Amazon.

Findway 4 Ports USB Printer Share Sharing Switch Hub MT-1A4B-CF Findway 4 Ports USB Printer Share Sharing Switch Hub MT-1A4B-CF 4 PORT SWITCH 4 PC TO 1 PRINTER Buy Now At Amazon $5.10

You plug your printer’s USB cable into the hub and connect the hub to your main Wi-Fi network. Using the aforementioned Add Printer feature in Windows 10 (Start > Settings > Devices > Printers and Scanners > Add Printer) should then automatically find the printer. Windows will automatically install the drivers.

Any Problems?

Although Microsoft has slightly altered the process for sharing printers on Windows 10, there is a strong argument to suggest the process is now easier than ever. It certainly works better than ever – I tested the method on four computers around my home and all four connected to the shared printer without any issues.

That said, this is technology – things can go awry. If you’re having difficulties How To Install A Wireless Printer On Windows & Workarounds How To Install A Wireless Printer On Windows & Workarounds Having problems connecting to your wireless printer or looking for a way to make a cabled printer accessible wirelessly? Use these tips and tricks to achieve wireless printing Zen. Read More sharing your printer over your network, let us know what’s going wrong in the comments below.

We’ll do our best to help you resolve the problem.

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  1. Ian McEwan
    February 2, 2017 at 2:11 am

    I purchased the printer hub as recommended. What does your simple statement "connect the hub to your main Wi-Fi network. " mean? How ? It is nothing but a usb box. There is no way to connect it to my wi-fi. It has one A type usb and 4 B type usb ports and nothing else.

    • Ralfsen
      February 22, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      That question popped into my head as well. To me it looks like a usb switchbox. There is no way to connect it to a network, and have it do what this article says.

    • Seth
      November 13, 2017 at 12:05 am

      Yes, it appears that the author displayed a product that is not suitable for wireless printer sharing. I would recommend another product, but i am not able to find one to complete that task.

  2. irshad
    December 23, 2015 at 5:40 am

    thank your sir for posting this post. sir please kindly tell me the solution my printer is not connecting to the windows seven the printer is hp 1160. the hp suppor center says that it has a driver in windows seven but it is not connecting why .it works with xp but not with 7.

  3. Midhunjollin
    October 4, 2010 at 7:04 am

    thank you very much for the person who posted this information

    • ajinkyua
      February 26, 2015 at 7:31 am

      this is an most usefull answer

    • ajinkyua
      February 26, 2015 at 7:32 am

      this is an most usefull answer

  4. Steve Campbell
    July 20, 2010 at 2:16 am

    You suspect correct, max power. The only thing you can really do is go to the printer's manufacturer website and try to locate Windows 7 drivers. Windows Vista drivers may help you as well.

    If they aren't there, try contacting them because maybe they have an alternative solution for you. Windows 7 is usually pretty good with older printers when it comes to pre-installed drivers, so there probably is a way.

    Try asking your question on MUO Answers for the rest of the team's help:

    http://makeuseof.com/answers

  5. Calkinsj
    July 20, 2010 at 1:59 am

    http://www.printeranywhere.com...

    This program has been around for years; it's much better now. Can print from anywhere to home--wireless or wired.

  6. Calkinsj
    July 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    http://www.printeranywhere.com/

    This program has been around for years; it's much better now. Can print from anywhere to home--wireless or wired.

    • Steve Campbell
      July 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      Awesome, thanks for sharing!

  7. sfmitch
    July 20, 2010 at 12:26 am

    @max power

    Did you get the printer working on the Win 7 laptop via USB prior to setting up via sharing through the XP desktop? Getting the printer working via USB first is a key step.

    As a side note: I have been very pleasantly surprised with the ability of Win 7 to be able to automatically install drivers for printers (NON all-in-ones, just straight up printers).

  8. sfmitch
    July 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Of the three options listed, sharing over the network using a network enabled printer is so much easier than the other options.

    Whether the printer is connected to the network by wire or wireless, it is much easier to setup and use than the alternative options.

    I have used various brand of print servers and have found out that they don't support all printers nor all features. If you want to scan over the network, you should ensure that the print server supports that feature for you printer model.

    Setting up networkable printers is usually just a matter of popping in the manufacturer's CD and running the installation to setup the printer and the 1st computer. Then just use the same CD in any other computers that you want to be able to print / scan / fax from.

    I have had better experiences with Networked devices by Brother, Epson and HP. Canon was harder to work with and I have had nothing but trouble with Lexmarks. In all cases it was with devices under $300.

  9. sfmitch
    July 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Of the three options listed, sharing over the network using a network enabled printer is so much easier than the other options.

    Whether the printer is connected to the network by wire or wireless, it is much easier to setup and use than the alternative options.

    I have used various brand of print servers and have found out that they don't support all printers nor all features. If you want to scan over the network, you should ensure that the print server supports that feature for you printer model.

    Setting up networkable printers is usually just a matter of popping in the manufacturer's CD and running the installation to setup the printer and the 1st computer. Then just use the same CD in any other computers that you want to be able to print / scan / fax from.

    I have had better experiences with Networked devices by Brother, Epson and HP. Canon was harder to work with and I have had nothing but trouble with Lexmarks. In all cases it was with devices under $300.

    • Steve Campbell
      July 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      You've made some VERY good points sfmitch. Thanks for sharing!

    • max power
      July 19, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      I've had problems recently printing from a Windows 7 laptop to a printer connected to a Win XP desktop. The problem is that not all printers (this is an HP Laserjet 1012) have Windows 7 drivers and I've had no luck with the alternative methods that I've seen around. I suspect this is not completely uncommon.

      • sfmitch
        July 19, 2010 at 10:26 pm

        @max power

        Did you get the printer working on the Win 7 laptop via USB prior to setting up via sharing through the XP desktop? Getting the printer working via USB first is a key step.

        As a side note: I have been very pleasantly surprised with the ability of Win 7 to be able to automatically install drivers for printers (NON all-in-ones, just straight up printers).

      • Steve Campbell
        July 20, 2010 at 12:16 am

        You suspect correct, max power. The only thing you can really do is go to the printer's manufacturer website and try to locate Windows 7 drivers. Windows Vista drivers may help you as well.

        If they aren't there, try contacting them because maybe they have an alternative solution for you. Windows 7 is usually pretty good with older printers when it comes to pre-installed drivers, so there probably is a way.

        Try asking your question on MUO Answers for the rest of the team's help:

        http://makeuseof.com/answers