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Share Your Printer Over a Home Network Using Windows XP


Plug and Print

Just like big business, you have to do a wee bit of planning. But you get off easy with a single decision: Where are you going to install your printer?

I'd suggest a central location that has a computer. I installed mine in my home office, since that's where I keep most of my computers. You might want to install it on a kitchen computer. Whatever you do, don't put it in your kids' rooms. You might never get to it. And don't put it anywhere that you expect privacy; otherwise, someone might startle you at the wrong time with a 20 page list of colorful jokes.

In the continuing saga of my home network, I bought an inexpensive printer to test with Windows XP. Once I decide where to put my new printer, installation was a snap. I plugged my new printer, a popular inkjet printer from that small garage startup, in to a computer running Windows XP, and the operating system automatically recognized it. Windows XP briefly displayed a balloon in the taskbar that said, "Found New Hardware," followed by the name of the printer. A full minute didn't pass between the time I plugged the printer in to the computer and the time I was printing. I didn't have to do jack in order to install the printer, and you'll have the same experience—it just works.

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Share and Share Alike

After I installed my new printer on the computer, I wanted to use it from other computers. I even wanted to print from my laptop computer, sitting on the patio, connecting to the network with a wireless NIC. Before I could do that, I had to share the printer. Windows XP doesn't automatically share printers, which is a good thing when you don't want to share your toys.

To share the printer, I opened the Printers and Faxes folder on the computer that was connected to my printer.

To open the Printers and Faxes folder

Click Start and then click Control Panel.

Click Printers and Other Hardware, and then click Printers and Faxes.

In the Printers and Faxes folder, I clicked the printer's icon and, in the tasks pane, I clicked Share This Printer.

I opened the printer's Properties dialog box, and clicked on the Sharing tab.

I clicked Share Name, and then clicked OK.

That's it—the printer was immediately available for other computers to use.

Now that I had a network printer, I was ready to connect to it and print from other computers on the network.

To connect to the printer

I opened Control Panel, and clicked Printers and Other Hardware.

I clicked Add a Printer.

Instead of adding a local printer, though, I clicked Printer Connection and then browsed the network for the printer.

The whole process took less than a minute before I was printing to the network printer as though it was connected to the computer.