Printer sharing over a WiFi network?
December 5, 2007 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Can my wife and I share a printer over a WiFi network?

Here's the situation: we've got DSL going into a WiFi router out in the living room by the front door. At the other end of the apartment is our home office with three laptops and one HP OfficeJet 6310. The laptops connect to the Net via WiFi all the time. The printer is connected via USB to my wife's laptop. I would like to be able to send a document to this printer without unplugging the USB cord from her laptop. Is there a way to do this on our current set up? Plugging the printer into the router is not an option because of where the router is (and I'm not even sure the printer has a network slot, sorry if that's stupid ...). Thank you for your help.
posted by nomad73 to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Absolutely! You just have to set up printer sharing on the computer that the printer is hooked up to. We have a similar setup at home (2 desktops on wired ethernet, 1 more on Wi-Fi, and a laptop on Wi-Fi) and it was a breeze to set up.
posted by DMan at 2:32 PM on December 5, 2007

You can get an Airport Express from Apple that does wireless printer sharing.
posted by unixrat at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2007

I should go into more detail. Open the Printer folder, and right click on the printer (you're doing this on the one that it's hooked up to). Click the sharing tab, and select the option to share the printer. Pick a name and hit "OK". Then go to the other computers and go to the printer folder again, and this time hit Add Printer. At that point it should give you the option to install either a local printer or a network one. Choose the network printer option, and chances are it will auto-detect the one on the other computer.

Obvious caveat: the computer with the printer attached to it will need to be turned on in order for anything to print.
posted by DMan at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

No details on OSes given, but...

Printer Sharing on Windows

If a Mac, go to the "Sharing" systems preferences pane on your wife's laptop and click the box for "Printer Sharing", then choose that printer from whatever computer you're printing from.

If something more esoteric, googling the name of the OS and "printer sharing" ought to go the trick.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2007

You can enable printer sharing on your wife's computer, then all you have to do is point to it as you would a network printer, just as you would point to a network printer at an office.

Depending on your setup and assuming Windows - not MAC, and what version of windows you use, you might have to create a login on your wife's computer, or you might not.

I've just done this with Vista through my wife's computer, no problem shows up as //wifey/HP-whatever and you choose that as the printer.

Caveat is of course, since it is attached to your wife's computer, her computer has to be on.
posted by xetere at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2007

Sorry - I should know better: two laptops are running XP Home SP2; the other is running XP Pro. Thanks very much - I will give these a try later! Much appreciated.
posted by nomad73 at 2:40 PM on December 5, 2007

I have a Dell-branded WiFi printer adapter that works great and lets all the computers on my network print wirelessly and no computer has to stay on all the time to share the printer. It's the 3300, I think, if they still sell it; but it's probably just a rebadged Lexmark product.
posted by stopgap at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2007

The Wi-Fi printer adapter is certainly an option, and it can get annoying sometimes to have to turn on the printer-computer anytime you want to print something. So far, it hasn't been worth it to me personally to buy one, because the computer that the printer is attached to is almost always turned on. Something to consider, though, depending on your own situation.

The instructions we gave you will definitely work on both versions of XP. Let us know how it goes!
posted by DMan at 2:50 PM on December 5, 2007

I do it with bluetooth.
posted by A189Nut at 3:03 PM on December 5, 2007

Not sure if this will help you but... Printer anywhere app
posted by sharkfu at 3:03 PM on December 5, 2007

Printer anywhere: $19.95/month to remove the ad banner from your printed page (ugh)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 3:54 PM on December 5, 2007

stupidsexyFlanders: "Printer anywhere: $19.95/month to remove the ad banner from your printed page (ugh)"

sorry, i didn't see that. lifehacker linked to it, but I thought it was free.
posted by sharkfu at 6:48 PM on December 5, 2007

thank you for your suggestions. unfortunately i can't say anything worked as of yet. I enabled sharing of the printer on her laptop then tried to connect to it from my own without success. my laptop simply does not see it as either a connected network printer or otherwise.

@ exetere: she does not have a Win XP password - does this matter? should i have to create logins and pws on her laptop and then point my laptop to those paths?

thank you all again ...
posted by nomad73 at 9:58 PM on December 5, 2007

Shouldn't have to create a login, etc (but, strangely, sometimes it helps...).

Try this first: on your wife's laptop, open a command window and type (where <computername> is the network name or IP address of your wife's computer)
net view <computername>
That'll show you what's being shared from that machine. If that shows the printer, try the same command (still with your wife's PC's netname / IP address) from your machine - that'll tell you if you can see it or not.

For some reason, checking it that way seems to be much more reliable than using the normal Windows "My Network Places".

If you can see it's being shared, and can see it from your machine, try browsing down the entire network tree - Go to "My Network Places" -> "Entire Network" -> "Microsoft Windows network" -> network name -> machine name -> printer name. Double-click on the printer name.

Once you've done that, you should be able to do the "Add New Printer" -> "Network Printer" thing.

(And, if you still can't - which happens with depressing regularity on Windows networks - go back to the command window and type "net use //computername/printername" using the computer name & printer name you found in the first step, then try adding the printer.)
posted by Pinback at 6:04 AM on December 6, 2007

I had problems with this that I could never resolve, and finally I just ponied up for a Network Magic license, which made it work instantly.

It was a $24 one-time fee but it was worth it to me for a pretty good network troubleshooting/configuration tool.

Just thought you'd like to know you have that Plan B if you need it.

Someday someone will reverse engineer whatever it is that NM does to make this work, and just put the steps on a webpage somewhere. I looked extensively and no tutorial out there did the trick the way NM did. (Just be sure you disable any other 3rd party wireless connection mgmt you have going, like Intel's on Dell laptops. NM does NOT play nice with other tools trying to do what it does.)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2007

@ Pinback - thanks - I'll give that a shot tonight. Much appreciated.

@ Stupidsexyflanders - great to have this as a backup. $24 sounds like a reasonable price to pay for resolving this, which is driving me nuts. Thanks very much.
posted by nomad73 at 9:15 AM on December 6, 2007

3rd party software firewalls (e.g. Norton, ZoneAlarm) on any of the laptops can interfere with printer sharing. I just had this with a client last night. He wanted to share his printer from an XP desktop with a laptop running Vista. We had to jump through a few hoops, disabling the firewalls temporarily.

Also, I believe the computers must be on the same Workgroup, though I'm not sure about that.
posted by GS1977 at 11:02 AM on December 6, 2007

@GS1977: ZoneAlarm was the culprit. I fiddled with it until I realized that if the Internet Security Zone is set to High, it will not see the printer. Set at Medium, it works fine. Thank you very much indeed.
posted by nomad73 at 5:05 PM on December 6, 2007

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