Printer sharing is incredibly useful to any business, and even sometimes in the home. Networking your printer reduces cable usage while allowing multiple PCs, Macs and mobile devices to print as though the printer were attached directly to the device you are printing from.
There are two basic types of printers: standard printers and network printers. Standard printers are the most common choice for small businesses due to their low cost, and even though they do not have built-in network capabilities, they can still be shared across your network.
Connecting a standard printer to the network on Windows 7
- Plug your printer into the workstation that will host the printer. Keep in mind that this PC will have to remain powered on in order for other devices to access the printer.
- From the Start Menu, go to your Control Panels and find Network and Sharing Center. From there, you will click “Change advanced sharing settings” on the left-hand menu.
- From the advanced settings, ensure that “File and Printer Sharing” is on, and click Save Changes. Once this is done, you can close the window.
- Back at the Control Panels, find “Devices and Printers”. The printer that you wish to share should be on the list of devices. If it is not, follow the basic installation instructions given by the manufacturer so that the printer is installed correctly.
- Right-click the printer you wish to share, then click “Printer Properties”.
- Click the Sharing tab, and select “Share this printer”. Accept the changes.
- Now, from each PC that you wish to print from, click your Start Menu and select Devices and Printers from the right-hand side of the menu.
- On top of the window, select “Add a printer”, and select the option for “Network, Wireless or Bluetooth printer”.
- The printer should appear on the list. When it does, double-click it and go through the wizard to complete the process.
- Repeat steps 7 through 9 for each PC that needs to access the printer.
Printers can be the most expensive device on your network – the printer itself plus the cost of ink cartridges and paper can be a sizable chunk of your i.t. budget. Thankfully, the low cost of standard printers can meet the needs of many offices; however, it’s important to keep in mind that some software may require a true network printer. If in doubt, contact a small business i.t. company or your software provider directly to ensure that a standard printer will be compatible with your setup.