After you have established your new wireless network, you have to determine whether or not you are going to share resources among users. One of the most commonly shared peripheral devices is a printer. Sharing a printer across a wireless network is very easy to do.
In this example, we are going to go through the steps about how to share a printer that already exists and is attached to one of the users’ computers. Sharing a printer through a print server and how to set one up is covered in a separate article.
It does not matter how many users share a printer. And it does not matter how many printers you want to share. In this example, we are going to share a single computer.
First, you need to set up printer sharing on the computer to which the computer is attached. This is accomplished by first going to the Control Panel and opening up the folder for Printers and Faxes. Right click the printer icon. Choose Properties. One of the tabs at the top of the menu box is labeled Sharing. Select this tab.
Click on the Share this Printer radio button. You are prompted to enter the name of the printer. Enter the name you want to identify the shared printer as across the network.
If you have different operating systems on you network, you will need to provide those by clicking on the Additional Drivers button. This assumes everyone is using Windows XP. As long as you have the device driver disc that came with the printer, installing different drivers for different operating systems is easily accomplished by providing the name of each operating system and loading these drivers. When loading this shared printer on the other machines, the drivers will be provided from the shared printer computer as necessary for each different OS.
From each remote computer, you begin the installation of the shared printer by opening Control Panel and clicking on Printers and Faxes. Click on Add a Printer. The Add a Printer Wizard begins the installation process. You can have the wizard browse your network for the printer or you can enter the exact shared printer name. Both work but I recommend you let the wizard browse for the printer. When it locates the printer’s host computer and the printer is not displayed, be sure to click on the ‘+’ icon to expand the attached network devices so that the printer is shown.
Upon completion of the installation process, you are given the choice to print a test page. I recommend you always do this. This is the time to find out if there is a problem, not when you have a report or bank statement you have to print to get to a meeting!
If this is the only shared printer on the network, I recommend that all users that will use this printer as their primary printer go to the Control Panel, click on Printers and Faxes, then right-click on the shared printer icon and then select Set as Printer Default. This way, any time you choose to print a document, it will be sent to this printer by default. If the computer that hosts the printer or the printer is not powered on, then you will be notified that the resource is unavailable. If you take no further action, the print request will be completed the next time you are able to connect to the printer.