Windows Vista Tutorial

Share a printer over the local network in Windows Vista

Whenever you connect a printer to your computer, it becomes available to every user who uses your computer. But it is also possible to make your printer available to other desktop computers and laptops in your house, so that everyone can print to the fast printer. This tutorial assumes that you already have a local Windows network setup (our Vista networking tutorial will delve in more details on the topic). Windows Vista makes it extremely simple to share a printer on your wired or wireless network; this tutorial explains how.


This tutorial shows you how to share a printer over your local network: it does not matter whether your network is wired, a wireless network, or a mix of wired and wireless networks. Windows Vista's printer sharing functionality is more concerned about computers and printers seeing one another than about how the network is setup.

Before you go on, you need to make sure that printer sharing is enabled on your computer: for security reasons, Windows Vista does not enable printer sharing over a network by default. If you are not sure if someone enabled or disabled printer sharing, please read the short Enable or disable printer sharing tutorial.

Share a printer over the network

Access all printers in Windows Vista To quickly access the Printers folder that displays all the local printers, network printers, and print drivers available to Windows Vista, click on the Start Menu, type printers and hit Enter.

Windows Vista will open in Windows Explorer a complete listing of printers currently available to the system, with the default printer displayed with a green checkmark next to its icon.

If you use Windows Vista's Classic Start Menu, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Printers.

Choose a printer to share

Share a printer over the LAN (local area network) In the listing of printers Windows Vista has detected, locate the one you would like to allow others to print to. Right-click on the printer you want to connect to the network, and choose Sharing.

Windows Vista will open the printer's Properties window, with the Sharing tab automatically selected for you. By default, the Share this printer checkbox is unchecked (i.e. no printer is shared over a network without your preliminary permission).

Enable printer sharing in Windows Vista Check the Share this printer checkbox, and several printer sharing settings that were disabled are now enabled.

Note: if you are not running Vista as an "Administrator", Windows may be asking you for a password or a confirmation when you tick the Share this printer checkbox: this is normal, agree and proceed.

As soon as the printer is set as a shared network printer, Windows Vista asks you for a printer name, automatically populated with the current printer's name: keep the name, or start typing another name, perhaps more meaningful to the other users on your network, like "Living Room Printer", or "Sales Big Printer", etc. Just to make sure people on your network immediately know what printer the name you chose is referring to: this is the name they will see for the printer you are sharing over the network.

Meaningfully rename the network printer

Render print jobs on client computers

Remote printer connection settings By default, the "Render print jobs on client computers" is checked: leave it checked, this instructs the network computers (also known as "nodes" or "clients") to themselves take on the work or preparing document for printer, before sending them to the network printer.

You do not need to fiddle with the settings under the Additional [printer] drivers button: these settings determine what will happen when network users are trying to print to a shared printer for which they do not have "drivers" installed ("drivers" are pieces of software that allow the operating system (like Windows XP, Vista, or Mac OS X) to talk in a common language with printers and other peripherals, like scanners, cameras, etc.)

Confirm your network printer sharing settings

A shared printer in Windows Vista Once you are satisfied with shared printer name and settings, click OK.

Windows Vista has now setup your printer as a shared printer over your local network; notice that the printer icon now displays a picture of two people: this is Vista's visual cue to let you know right away whether a printer is shared or not.

Notice another thing: your printer name has not changed. This is because you typed a name for the printer as it should be seen by others on the network. Another tutorial goes in details to show you how to rename a printer in Windows Vista.

Now both you and network users will be able to print to the nice color printer in the hall!

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