I have a laptop with no printer attached. But I do have a wireless network in my home, and one of the desktop computers on the network has a printer. How can I print from the laptop, over the wireless network, to the printer that's hooked up to my desktop?
Sharing a Printer On a Wireless Network
Although it may seem like printing over a wireless network requires come special magic, it's really no different than printing with a regular wired network. It doesn't matter if you connect your laptop to the network router in your home with a network cable, or if you use an invisible wireless beam to connect. (If you need help setting up a home network, see my illustrated Home Networking tutorial.)
If one of the computers on the network has a printer attached, all of the computers on the network should be able to access it -- as long as your printer is designated as a "shared" printer for the network.
To make sure your printer is network shared, open the Control Panel (on the computer that has the printer), click Printers and Other Hardware, then View installed printers.
Select your printer from the list of installed printers, then smack the Share this printer button. Now click the radio button next to Share this printer, enter a Share name, then press OK. (The example below shows the Lexmark 3100 printer on my desktop computer... yours will most likely be different.) Mac users, make sure the printer is shared in the Mac OS Sharing control panel.
Now your desktop computer's printer is shared, so any computer on the network can send print jobs to it. Oh, and it really doesn't matter if you're printing from a laptop to a desktop, a desktop to a laptop, a desktop to another desktop, or a laptop to a laptop. As long as both computers are on the network, and the printer is designated as shared, it should work.
Setting Up Network Printing
Now on your wireless (or direct wired) laptop, you will need to visit the Control Panel, click Printers and Other Hardware, then Add a printer. This will define the connection between your laptop and the printer on the network.
When the Printer Wizard opens, tell it you're looking for a network printer, then browse for the desired printer on your network. You should select the printer that you just designated as the shared printer on your desktop. In the example below, there are two printers connected to a computer named GW3. You may have more than one computer on your network, with or without printers attached.
Press Next and the necessary printer software will be copied from the desktop to your laptop. In some cases, you may need to insert the CDROM with the printer driver, but usually not. The Printers and Faxes window should show your newly configured printer.
If you're connecting to a printer on a Mac computer, you'll need to download Bonjour for Windows so your Windows computer can access the Mac-connected printer.
If you have more than one printer defined, take note of which is the default printer. When you print from the laptop, the print job will go to whatever printer you have defined as your default printer. To change the default printer, right-click on the desired printer and select the Set as default option, or just select the printer you want to use from the application that you're working in.
Got comments or questions about networking printing from a wireless laptop? Post them below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Dec 2006
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Wireless Printing (Posted: 5 Dec 2006)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved