Sharing Is Caring?
December 9, 2009 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Sharing a printer between an iMac (with printer driver installed) and a Windows laptop without installing any drivers on the laptop: can it be done?

I have an iMac running OS X Leopard. My sister is using her work laptop. Unfortunately, her company has disallowed (blocked) installation of any new software on the laptop, which includes printer drivers. We need to share the printer between the iMac and the laptop. The iMac, to which the printer is connected, has the printer drivers installed.

Can the printer be shared between the iMac and the laptop without installing any drivers on the laptop?

The printer is a Canon Pixma MP145.

Please tell me this is possible (or any possible alternatives). Any help would be greatly appreciated!
posted by murtagh to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you share the printer with the mac, and then use some sort of totally generic postscript print driver on the win side? I don't have an immediate solution, but that would be my first try.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:00 PM on December 9, 2009

I don't believe this will work if she can't load the printer drivers. You may find that the laptop already has the drivers as part of the OS. I would try installing a new printer on her laptop and see if, perhaps, that is the case.... if not, I don't think this approach will work.

Could she e/mail the file to be printed to you (if you have the same program on the mac, such as Word, it should translate fine)..

Tell us what application she is printing from, there might be more ideas...
posted by HuronBob at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2009

I really doubt it. The computer needs to know how to format the document so that the printer can understand it.

But the postscript thing is definitely worth a shot, if the computer will let her install a printer from the built in list of drivers. (Or, if there are any other Canon inkjet drivers on there, try those too.) The fact that the Mac uses CUPS may make this work.
posted by gjc at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2009

The last possible option, in case any of the above options don't work, would be to set the iMac up as a network drive. You would run a script periodically (via cron) to check a folder on that drive for pdfs, and if found to print any pdfs and delete them. On the PC side, you could print to file/pdf and then copy that to the iMac's folder; the iMac would print as soon as the script would find the new file in the folder.

This would definitely work but would need a little technical skill.
posted by suedehead at 6:16 PM on December 9, 2009

You can use bonjour to share your mac's printer with windows computers. I've done this several times in office environments with xp, vista, and other osx computers at the same time, it works quite well.
posted by thebestsophist at 8:32 PM on December 9, 2009

It depends on the printer, but you will probably be able to get by just using generic printer drivers on the Windows side, as gjc says, so your main problem here is one of connectivity. OS X printer-sharing certainly works just fine with Windows machines, at least in my experience. You don't have to use PostScript: the Mac should handle PCL just fine.

(I think a number of the comments above indicate a misunderstanding of which computer is locked down.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:47 PM on December 9, 2009

Try installing it as an HP Laserjet 4 printer. You might not see full functionality but it might handle text fine.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:50 PM on December 9, 2009

I agree, Mac printer sharing works really well to share printers to Windows systems.

I do this with my dual boot Vista/Linux laptop and it works on both sides. However, my machines are not locked down and the printer is a postscript HP5. The driver is pretty much standard install.

If you cannot install a print driver for the Pixma, I think you will not get it to work, but you can certainly try. If it does not, the trick about printing to PDF would work, but then again you've got the problem of not being able to install software, so how would you install a print to pdf print driver.

I think faced with this scenario I would research usb print servers to see if that would help with this scenario. Also try Pixma support and see if they can suggest a scenario.
posted by diode at 3:08 AM on December 10, 2009

A generic PCL or PS driver ought to work, if you can get the windows machine to do it.

And if you can configure CUPS to properly parse the print job. The "standard" way of getting a CUPS printer shared to a Windows machine creates a raw print queue- in essence, a virtual printer cable. The Windows machine renders the job and the mac just passes it along.

However, CUPS can be made to take a print job, unrender it, and then rerender it for the correct printer.

Anti-however, that printer appears to be a host-based printer, which may complicate matters.
posted by gjc at 6:21 AM on December 10, 2009

Thank you all for your help! :)
posted by murtagh at 12:25 PM on December 14, 2009

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