Setting Up Shared Printers for a Home Network

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Setting Up Shared Printers for a Home Network

Post  Admin on Tue May 13, 2008 1:14 pm

A terrific side effect of installing a computer network in your home is the ability to share a printer. Households without networks face some difficulties when it comes to printing. Network-deficient households have to rely on some less-than-perfect solutions.

If you want all the computers on your network to be able to access a single printer, you have to set up the Windows printer-sharing feature. Then you have to set up the printer for sharing. You perform these tasks at the computer to which the printer is connected.

The most difficult part of setting up network printing is deciding which computer gets the printer. Here are some common guidelines you can follow:

Location. If you have room for a table at one computer location (and storage space for paper), that's the computer to choose.
Usage patterns. If one computer on the network is used far more often than any other computer, that's the computer to select.
Some households have more than one printer. You may have a black-and-white printer as well as a color printer. When you enable printer sharing, each user can choose a printer every time he or she wants to print.

You can attach two printers to one computer if that's more convenient, as long as the computer has sufficient ports. If one printer uses the printer port, and the other printer connects to the USB port, just plug them in. If both printers use printer ports, you can add a second printer port to the computer (it's expensive). If both printers use USB connections, you probably have a second (or third or fourth) USB port. If you don't have any empty USB ports, you can buy a USB hub (which adds ports).

Enabling printer sharing
The first thing you have to do is tell Windows that the printer attached to the computer should be shared with other users on the network. If you didn't set up printer sharing when you originally set up your network, follow these steps to accomplish this simple task:

1. Open the Properties dialog box for your network connection in Control Panel.

In Windows 98 and Windows Me, choose Start --> Settings --> Control Panel and then double-click the Network icon. (Alternatively, right-click Network Neighborhood and choose Properties.)

In Windows 2000, choose Start --> Settings --> Network and Dialup Connections. Then right-click the Local Area Connection icon and choose Properties.

In Windows XP, choose Start --> Control Panel and click Network and Internet Connections. Click Network Connections, right-click the Local Area Connection icon, and choose Properties.

The Local Area Connection Properties dialog box opens.

2. Enable file and printer sharing.

In Windows 98 and Windows Me, click the File and Print Sharing button and click the I Want to Be Able to Allow Others to Print to My Printer(s) check box to put a check mark in the check box. Then click OK twice. You must restart the computer to put the new settings into effect.

In Windows 2000 and Windows XP, click the File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks check box to put a check mark in the check box. Then click OK. You do not have to restart the computer.

Sharing a printer
Naturally, household members who are using the other computer(s) on your network want to print, too. Follow these steps to share the printer with others on the network:

1. Open the Printers folder.

An icon for the printer you installed on this computer is in the folder window.

2. Right-click the icon for the printer you want to share and choose Sharing from the shortcut menu that appears.

The printer's Properties dialog box opens and the Sharing tab appears in the foreground.

3. Select the option to share the printer.

The wording of this option differs, depending on the version of Windows.

4. Type a name for the printer in the Share Name text box.

You can accept the name that Windows automatically enters, which is usually a shortened form of the printer model name. Or, you can use a name of your own choice.

5. In Windows 98 and Windows Me, optionally type a description in the Comment text box.

Large companies with large networks and lots of printers use the Comments text box to help users identify the printers, such as "Den printer" or "Color printer." Users see the comment text only if they select the Details view in Network Neighborhood or My Network Places when they double-click the icon for the computer that is directly connected to the printer.

6. In Windows 98 and Windows Me, optionally enter a password for the printer.

If you choose to require a password, users who don't have the password won't be able to use the printer. Use the Security tab of the printer's Properties dialog box to set permissions, but usually the default permissions are fine - everyone can use the printer and manage their print jobs.

7. Click OK.

You are returned to the Printers folder, and your printer icon has a hand under it, indicating that this printer is a shared resource. This computer is now a print server.

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