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Once Windows Networking is enabled on your local network it's relatively easy to share printers as well as files. We'll walk through the steps.

I have a wireless network with 2 computers ( A & B ) and a printer ( A1 & B1 ) physically connected to each computer. A is connected to A1 and B is connected to B1. My question is can I use computer A to print to printer B1 or computer B to print to printer A1? I do not want to make the printers wireless at all.

The short answer is yes.

Assuming that computer "A" and computer "B" can "see" each other across your network, it's actually a relatively simply matter to print on either printer from either machine.

You may note that one of the things I don't spend a lot of time discussing here on Ask Leo! is Windows Networking. Getting two Windows machines to see each other and successfully share files can at times be incredibly frustrating. When it just works (which it often does) it's great. But if you encounter problems there are so many things that could be wrong, it's just not a topic I take on very often.

So, I'm going to start by assuming that your machines A and B can "see" each other. By that I mean that in Windows Explorer, in your "Network Neighborhood" or "Microsoft Windows Network" you see the other machine listed, along with any file shares it might have:

Entire Network in Windows Explorer opened on Leo showing file shares

The trick is simply that you can share a printer on your network just like you can share a folder.

On the machine with a printer physically connected to it (machine "A" with printer "A1", to use your terms):

"The trick is simply that you can share a printer on your network just like you can share a folder."
  • open Control Panel

  • double click on Printers and Faxes

  • right-click on the printer that's physically connected to the machine

  • Click on the Sharing... item. This will open the printer's properties dialog opened on the Sharing tab:

    Printer Sharing Properties

  • Make sure that Share this printer is selected, and give your printer a name. As you can see I've given my printer (what you've called "A1") a name of "hppsc131".

  • Click OK.

In order to use this printer from another machine you'll need to add it as an available print.

On that other machine, your machine "B":

  • open Control Panel

  • Click on Add a printer to start the Add Printer Wizard

  • Click on Next and you should see a dialog similar to this:

    Add Printer Wizard - location selection

  • Make sure the "network printer" option is selected, and click Next. You'll get a dialog similar to this:

    Add Printer Wizard - Specify a Printer

  • You can, if you like, try browsing for a printer. Windows will "look around" to try and locate any printers that are shared by any machines on the local network.

    I find it more reliable to enter the printer's name directly. In my example above, the computer name is "Leo" (what you've called "A"), and the printer name I chose was "hppsc131" (what you've called "A1"), so I would enter "\\leo\hppsc131" as the Name: after selecting "Connect to this printer":

    Add Printer Wizard - Specify a Printer by Name

  • Click Next

  • The next page of the wizard will ask if you want to use this newly connected printer as the default printer. Select Yes or No as you see fit and click Next.

  • The final page will summarize what you've just done.

That's really all there is to it. Now, on this machine B I can print to the printer on machine A.

Since you've indicated that you also have a printer on machine B that you want to print to from machine A, you'd simply repeat this process again, this time sharing the printer on B and connecting to it from A.

Article C3047 - June 5, 2007 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

Mark Hull
March 12, 2008 8:29 PM

When trying to add a printer to my network so the remote laptop can print from it, I can't expand the network and see the printer that is wired to desktop?

March 18, 2009 8:10 PM

How do you do this on two macs? [one macbook and one imac, if it matters]

Wanda Grahe
May 17, 2009 8:10 PM

Both my computers on the network were named by the programs. Both are XP. I can print from my newer computer to a DellAiO in the bedroom on an older computer, but I cannot print from my new Kodak printer on my newer computer to the Dell in the bedroom. It browses and finds the printer and when I click next, a box comes up and says the name is either wrong or the printer is not connected to the server which it is if the browsing found it.

samsung 315
August 9, 2009 5:44 AM

Is it possible to use printer network with two different computers ( 1 Macbook and 1 Asus notebook)? Both units are wifi ready.

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Robin Frost
August 9, 2009 6:47 PM

Why does my wife's laptop no longer connect to the wireless printer?
We have a wirless router. I have a laptop (running Windows XP) hard-wired via a docking station to 2 printers. I have enabled sharing on both printers. My wife's laptop (runing Windows Vista) has been printing to these 2 fine. Tonight, it now says we need to install the print drivers (for both printers). I tried physically connecting one of the printers and it installed fine, saying "You already have the driver for this printer installed" and could print no problem. So, I suspect it's a network issue not a printer issue? What could be the problem? I can "see" both printers in windows explorer on my wife's laptop, I have checked that sharing is enabled, it always ends up asking for the driver and then giving an Windows cannot connect to the printer" error message. Any other pointers? (Sorry it's kind of open ended, let me know what more I should add to make the question easier to answer?)
Thanks for all your help!

August 30, 2009 1:54 PM

I did as described and I get "The server for the printer does not have the correct driver installed." I search for the correct driver, but cannot find it.

Please help

Kirk McLaughlin
February 16, 2010 10:59 AM

How do i set up a win 7 machine to use a printer that is networked through win xp machine?

May 5, 2010 4:15 AM

hi,yo articles are rily helpful m learnin alot of stuff frm u,thanks.i've read yo article on sharin a printer on da network.i've connectd to a shared printer on da network to c if i can print frm it,but da statu of da printer is showing offline.can it print while offline?

August 10, 2010 3:27 AM

Hi, I have a Windows Vista machine that is sharing a local computer on a peer to peer network running Windows 7. The issue I'm encountering is I can install the network printer on the other machines when I'm logged in as the administrator. However, when I log in as a standard user and attempt to install the network printer it prompts me for username/password to connect to the printer. I enter in the username (i.e. jsmith) and a password. It works for a moment and then comes back indicating the credentials aren't sufficient for the network resource (printer) and asks if I'd like to enter alternate credentials. I answer "yes" and it gives me the standard login screen with the exception that the username field is pre-filled with the connecting computers machine name/username (i.e. machineA\jsmith). I've tried using the "run as" feature and installing the printer that way but still get the machine name pre-filled. The problem is that the machine name is not part of the login credentials on the machine sharing the printer but I don't know how to tell Windows not to include the machine name of the system requesting to print (or install the printer). Any help is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance (and thanks for your articles - they've been a blessing). Take care.

Wayne in Indy
November 20, 2010 6:17 PM

I had a devil of a time getting print and file sharing to work when I added a Windows 7 system to and existing Vista and XP network. I have had a 300N Airlink router for some time with a combination of wired and wireless Vista and XP systems and printers. Everything has been working great for internet, as well as file and print sharing. So now I add a new wireless Windows 7 laprtop and the headaches begin. It could access the internet fine, but file sharing was bazzar. My two wireless XP systems could see and access ALL systems, including the new wireless Windows 7 laptop. The new system could not “see” anything except itself, most of the time. “Sometimes” the other systems showed up under Network, but would not open them. It could not open anything on the hard wired side of the router except the internet modem connection. All of the hard wired systems could access everything, except the Windows 7 system (not even Ping). One trick is to make sure they ALL have the exact same workgroup name. The old XP systems are MSHOME by default, and Win 7 is WORKGROUP by default. I had already made those changes. Turns out it was the Airlink router firmware. Airlink initially told me it was a Microsoft problem. However, on a whim I replaced the Airlink with a Linksys router I had, and presto everything started working. I relayed this to Airlink and they mysteriously came up with an unplublished firmware update that did fix the problem. Sometimes you have to prove to a vendor that it's their problem. ;-)

February 11, 2011 6:03 PM

Thank you very much. Though I'm on Windows 7, your guidance certainly helped

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