How-To Geek

How to Set Up a Shared Network Printer in Windows 7, 8, or 10

inp_top_1

Over the years, Windows has gotten much better about how it handles networked printers. But if you want to share a printer over the network, you may still need to do a little legwork to get it all up and running. Here’s how it all works.

Setting up a printer on your network involves two steps. The first step is getting the printer connected to the network, and there are three ways you can do that:

  • Connect the printer to the network directly. This is the easiest way to set up a network printer.  It doesn’t require that another PC be turned on to print (like the below methods do), and you don’t have to go through the hassle of setting up sharing. And, since most printers made within the last few years have networking built in, there’s a good chance your printer supports this option.
  • Connect the printer to one of your PCs and share it with the network over Homegroup. If connecting a printer directly to the network isn’t an option, you can connect it to a PC on the network and share it with Windows Homegroup. It’s easy to set up, and is optimal for networks that are made up of mostly Windows computers. This method, however, requires that the computer its connected to be up and running in order for you to use the printer.
  • Connect the printer to one of your PCs and share it without Homegroup. This is ideal if your network has other computers running different operating systems, if you want more control over file and printer sharing, or if Homegroup just isn’t working very well. Like the Homegroup method, this requires that the computer its connected to be up and running in order for you to use the printer.

The second step, once you’ve hooked up your printer, will be connecting other PCs to the network printer…which depends a lot on how you hooked it up. Confused yet? Don’t worry. We’re about to go over all of this.

Step One: Connect Your Printer to the Network

First, let’s talk about getting that printer connected to your network. As we mentioned above, you have three options here. You can connect it directly to the network, you can connect it to a PC and share it through a Homegroup, or you can connect it to a PC and share it without using Homegroup.

Connect Your Printer Directly to the Network

Most printers these days have networking built in. Some come equipped with Wi-Fi, some with Ethernet, and many have both options available. Unfortunately, we can’t give you precise instructions for getting this done, since how you do it depends on the type of printer you have. If your printer has an LCD display, chances are you can find the network settings somewhere in the Settings or Tools portion of the menus. If your printer has no display, you’ll probably have to rely on some series of physical button presses to tell it whether it should use its Wi-Fi or Ethernet network adapter. Some printers even have a dedicated easy connect button that can set up the Wi-Fi for you.

If you’re having trouble setting up a printer that connects directly to the network, the manufacturer should have instructions for making it happen. Check the manual that came with your printer or the manufacturer’s web site for information on hooking it up.

Share a Printer Connected to a PC by Using a Homegroup

Sharing a printer with Homegroup is super easy. First, of course, you’ll want to make sure that the printer is connected to one of the PCs on the network and set up properly. If that PC can print to the printer, then you’re good to go.

Start by firing up the Homegroup control panel app. Click Start, type “homegroup,” and then click the selection or hit Enter.

inp_e

What you do next depends on what you see in the Homegroup window. If the PC you have the printer connected to is already part of a Homegroup, you’ll see something like the following screen. If it shows that you’re already sharing printers, then you’re done. You can skip on to step two, where you connect other PCs on the network. If you’re not already sharing printers, click the “Change what you’re sharing with the homegroup” link.

inp_f

On the “Printers & Devices” drop-down menu, choose the “Shared” option. Click Next and then you can close the Homegroup options and move on to step two.

inp_g

If there is already a Homegroup created for other PCs on the network, but the PC you’ve got your printer connected to isn’t a member, the main screen when you start the Homegroup control panel app will look something like the one below. Click the “Join now” button and then click “Next” on the following screen that just tells you a bit about Homegroups.

inp_h

Set your sharing options, making sure that “Printers and devices” is set to “Shared,” and then click “Next.”

inp_i

Type the password for the Homegroup and then click “Next.” If you don’t know the password, go to one of the other PCs on the network that is already a member of the Homegroup, launch the Homegroup control panel app, and you can look it up there.

If you’re connecting from another PC that you’ve signed onto using the same Microsoft account as the PC that’s already a member of the Homegroup, Windows 8 and 10 won’t ask for your password. Instead, Windows will authorize you automatically.

inp_j

On the final screen, click the “Finish” button and then you can move on to step two and get your other PCs on the network connected to the printer.

inp_k

And finally, if there is no Homegroup at all on your network, you’ll see something like the following screen when you open the Homegroup control panel window. To create a new homegroup, click the “Create a homegroup” button.

inp_a

The following screen just tells you a little about Homegroups. Go ahead and click “Next.”

inp_b

Choose whatever libraries and folders you want to share with the network from the PC you’re on. Just make sure that you select the “Shared” option for “Printers & Devices.” Click “Next” when you’re done making your selections.

inp_c

The final screen shows the password you’ll need for other PCs on your network to connect to the Homegroup. Write it down and then click the “Finish” button.

inp_d

Now that you’ve got your Homegroup set up and your PC is sharing its printers with it, you can skip down to step two and get those other PCs on the network connected to the printer.

Share a Printer Connected to a PC Without Using a Homegroup

If you have computers or mobile devices on your network that run an OS other than Windows 7, 8, or 10–or you just don’t want to use Homegroup for some reason–you can always use the sharing tools that have always been a part of Windows to share a printer with the network. Again, your first step is making sure the printer is connected to a PC and that you can print to it.

Click Start, type “devices and printers,” and then hit Enter or click the result.

inp_1

Right-click the printer you want to share with the network and then select “Printer properties”.

inp_m

The “Printer Properties” window shows you all kinds of things you can configure about the printer. For now, click the “Sharing” tab.

inp_n

You are informed that the printer will not be available when your computer sleeps or it is shut down. Also, if you are using password protected sharing, you are informed that only users on your network with a username and password for this computer can print to it. Credentials are a one-time thing you’ll have to enter the first time you connect another PC to the shared printer; you won’t have to do it each time you print. If you’d prefer, you can make sharing available to guests so that passwords aren’t necessary, but that setting will also apply to any files you have shared. We suggest you read up on customizing your network sharing settings before making that decision.

To proceed, enable the “Share this printer” option and, if you want, give the printer a friendlier name so that others on the network can more easily identify the printer.

The other option you can set here is whether you would like to render print jobs on client computers. If this setting is enabled, all the documents that will be printed are rendered on the computers where people are doing the printing. When this setting is disabled, the documents are rendered on the computer to which the printer is attached. If it’s a PC that someone uses actively, we recommend enabling this setting so that system performance is not impacted every time something gets printed.

When you’re done setting things up, go ahead and click “OK.”

inp_o

Now that you’ve shared the printer, other PCs on your network should be able to connect to it. So, you’re ready to move on to step two.

Step Two: Connect to Your Printer from Any PC on the Network

Now that you’ve got your printer connected to the network using one of the above methods, it’s time to turn your attention to the second part of the process: connecting other PCs on the network to that printer. How you do that really just depends on whether you’re using Homegroup or not.

Connect to a Printer That’s Shared by a PC Using a Homegroup

This is probably the easiest step in this whole tutorial. If you’ve got the printer connected to a PC and that PC is sharing the printer as part of a Homegroup, all you have to do is make sure that other PCs on the network are also joined to the Homegroup. You can use the same process we went over in Step One to get them joined. When PCs are part of the same Homegroup, Windows will automatically connect to any printers shared from other PCs. They’ll just show up in your Devices and Printers window automatically and any PC in the Homegroup can print to them. Super simple.

inp_l

Connect to a Printer Without Using Homegroup

If your printer is connected directly to a network, or is shared from a PC without using Homegroup, you’ll have to do a little more work to connect to it from other PCs on the network. It’s still pretty straightforward, though. Click Start, type “devices and printers,” and then hit Enter or click the result.

inp_1

The Devices and Printers window shows a collection of devices on your PC. Click the “Add a printer” link to get started adding your network printer.

inp_2

Windows will perform a quick scan of your network for discoverable devices that are not yet installed on your PC and display them in the “Add a device” window. Chances are high that you’ll see your printer on the list, whether it’s directly connected to the network or shared from another PC. If you see the printer you’re looking for, then your job just got super easy. Click the printer you want to install. Windows will handle the installation, download drivers if needed, and ask you to provide a name for the printer. That’s all you have to do.

inp_3

If you don’t see the printer you want to install–and you’re sure you’ve got it properly connected to the network–click the “The printer that I want isn’t listed” link. The next window will present you with several options for helping you find it:

  • My printer is a little older. If you select this option, Windows will perform a more thorough scan of your network looking for the printer. In our experience, though, it rarely finds anything that it didn’t already find during its initial scan. It’s an easy enough option to try, but it may take a few minutes.
  • Select a shared printer by name. If the network computer is shared from another PC, this is the best option for finding it. If you know the exact network name of the computer and printer, you can type it here. Or you can click the “Browse” button to look through the PCs on your network that have sharing enabled and see if you can find the printer that way.
  • Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname. If your printer is attached directly to the network and you know its IP address, this is probably the simplest and surest option. Most network printers have a function that lets you determine their IP address. If your printer has an LCD display, you may be able to find the IP address by scrolling through the printer settings. For printers without a display, you can usually perform some sequence of button presses that will print the settings for you. If all else fails, you can always use an IP scanning app like Wireless Network Watcher to locate devices on your network. Check out the last section of this guide for more information on how to do that.
  • Add a Bluetooth, wireless, or network discoverable printer. If you choose this option, Windows will scan for those types of devices. Again, we’ve rarely seen it pick up a device that it didn’t find during the initial scan. But, it still may be worth a try.
  • Add a local printer or network printer with manual settings. This option may help you get a printer added if nothing else works. It’s mostly for configuring a local printer by specifying exact port information, but there is one setting in particular that can help with network printers if you know the model. When asked to specify a port, you can choose a Windows Self Discovery option, which is listed toward the bottom of the available ports as “WSD” followed by a string of numbers and letters. When you choose that, Windows will ask you to specify a model so that it can install drivers. When you’re done, Windows will then monitor the network for that printer. It’s a longshot, but it’s worth a try if all else fails.

You’ll find all these options are pretty straightforward and feature short wizards for walking you through the process. Since TCP/IP is the surest way to get a printer added, we’re going to continue with that as our example.  Select “Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname” and then click “Next.”

inp_4

Type the IP address for the printer into the “Hostname or IP address” box. Make sure the “Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use” check box is selected and then click “Next.”

inp_5

Type a new name for printer if the default name doesn’t suit you and then click “Next.”

inp_6

Choose whether to set the new printer as the default, print a test page if you want to make sure everything’s working, and then click “Finish” when you’re done.

inp_7

Hopefully, you never need to bother with most of this stuff. If your network printer is properly connected to the network, the chances are high that Windows will pick it up and install it for you right off the bat. And if your network is mostly Windows machines and you use Homegroup for sharing files and printers, things should also happen mostly automatically. If it doesn’t–or if you have a more complicated setup–at least you know you have some options.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Published 06/9/09

Comments (45)

  1. GoodBytes

    A little off topic, but this is something I want to know.
    I have 2 system running Vista, and I want computer2 to access files and printer form computer1. Now, that works fine here. My problem, is to make this possible, I had to create an account on computer1 with the same user name and password, so that the the folders and devices I want to share doesn’t need a user name and password. In result in computer1 I have 2 accounts where one is just there annoying me at the login screen, and just not used. Is there another way to do what I want to do without the need to create and account on computer1?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. camron9989

    Network and Sharing Center > Turn on: Network discovery, File sharing,Printer sharing. To share a folder, right click on the folder on the host computer and click “Share” > Select which PCs you wish to share with (note: you can only use this method to share folders with other computers on the same network; everybody = anybody on the network).

    Printing from the 2nd computer (This will only work if both computers are on and connected to the network): on the 2nd computer: Network and Sharing Center > View Computers and Devices > double click on the printer and it will automatically be installed.

    (You may need to do this on the 2nd computer: Network and Sharing Center > Turn on: Network discovery, File sharing,Printer sharing. )

    The shared folder can be accessed from the 2nd computer by: Network and Sharing Center > View Computers and Devices > navigate to host computer > locate shared folder.

  3. camron9989

    My previous comment was a reply to GoodBytes.

    You can also do this:
    On my computer, I have created a separate partition for sharing files. I simply right clicked on the new drive and clicked share. On the other computers I used “map network drive”‘ to make the host folder appear as a new drive.

  4. GoodBytes

    Thanks Camron, so it seams that the only setup I can have is anyone who connects to my network, or be account based like I have, where the system that has folder/device shared needs to have the other computer account and password.

  5. Ben

    Gee, tell us something that’s NOT in the help files…
    How about when you get a message about ‘this computer cannot join a homegroup’ along with something about the time not synchronized, when it IS.

    The troubleshooters in Win 7 are NOT any better than they were way back in Win 98 — basics only!!!

  6. Daniel Brockman

    When, after several hours of screwing around, I finally figured out how to disable the security on Public and “Home and Work” (whatever that is), I was able to share the printer to both my XP and Vista machines. Microsoft must think its customers worth 25 cents an hour. The homegroup idea is poorly implemented in Windows 7. I don’t understand how or why one would want to use it.

  7. prashant

    I am not able to get the home group password. suggest me a method to get one.
    I have all sorts of pc’s on dis home group grm win XP to win 7

  8. Robbie

    I am getting an error that I have no IPv6 connection. I have checked several different places and all areas it is showing that everything is correct. Can someone please help me troubleshoot this?

  9. farhan

    my pc does not show the join group option, it soe how can just detect it but the problem is the files i put on shre folder does not appear. it justshows the file on my laptop to me not the ones i desire to see which belong to the other pc. HeLP!!!

  10. my-tech

    Another way I like to accomplish sharing folders printers etc is:
    1 – in user accounts create a new user and this user must be a
    standard user and have a password
    2 – right click folder,file or printer
    goto properties then sharing tab
    choose share button , now pick add and add the new user
    don’t change admin or main user read/write settings !!!
    But you can remove all other users and have added users only read or
    read and write privilages. Click ok/apply or share to make it so
    ( not at CPU now , can’t rem exactly if it’s ok /share or whatever)

    now in my computer icon (on remote CPU) go under network and choose target
    sharing pc, double click and you should be prompted for user name and pass
    u can check the box to save it or if it depends who’s sitting at remote pc
    you may not check the box incase u want to use another account with different
    access settings :)
    notes: all user should have password !!

  11. Johan Meyer

    This mite be the web site I need

  12. Johan Meyer

    Iam looking for ORC folder for my priter I am away from and wouid like if you could help me the printer Laxmark x2470 All in one cant get my work done .I would like if I could get my work done.

  13. Biju

    It is very useful for me. Great thanks.

  14. Mytech

    You can share a printer a few ways

    1 plug printer into router
    2 share printer over network
    3 share wirelessly

    In any situation you need to install
    The printer driver onto the computer that is
    Printing. If sharing from a printer connected
    To another computer the computer the printer
    Is connected to must be turned on !

  15. Bien

    So this means, if my main computer is running on Windows 7, I can’t use the homegroup for printer sharing if my 2 other computer are running on Vista? Thanks.

  16. Mytech

    If anybody actually read the excellent guide at the top of this page it’s very easy to share the printer across windows7 machines and at the bottom there is a link of another great tutorial on how to share between windows7 & xp & vista . Reread and check it out !!

    Sent from my iPhone

  17. distill

    I got it working only after the following:

    1. Do the following on ALL computers:
    2. start / Change workgroup name -> Change workgroup = MYWORKGROUP
    3. start / HomeGroup -> Create a homegroup, follow instructions = join the same
    homegroup from the other computer(s), use the predetermined random password
    4. start / Credential Manager -> Add a Windows credential ->
    – Internet or network address = remote computer’s name, eg. UpstairsPC
    – User name: MyUser
    – password: [yourPassword] (can be put to “remember” by the connecting computer later)
    5. start / Computer Management / System Tools / Local Users and Groups / Users ->
    New User (= right click):
    – User name: MyUser
    – Password: [yourPassword]
    – tick ONLY [x] Password never expires
    – Create, Close
    6. At this point you may have to wait for a short while or reboot computers
    to have those settings updated in the network.
    7. Share the folders you want like this:
    – navigate to your folder (double click eg. “ShareThisFolder”, not a whole drive)
    – Share with (located on top bar) -> Specific people
    – from the pulldown menu choose MyUser, Add, change permission to Read/Write, Share
    8. Now you should be able to connect to the shared folder from other computers like this:
    Open Computer (start / Computer). Top bar Organize / Layout / Navigation pane should be
    enabled for this. On the left you should see both Homegroup (and other user-computers in it) and Network with other computers in CAPS. From either, you should be able to go to the shared
    folder and for the first time it should ask for user (PrivateNetworkUser) and password.
    9. If the previous works, you can also Map network drive (top) or Add network location (right click)
    in Computer.

    (FYI: “start / Local Security Policy / Local Policies / Security Options / Accounts: Limit
    local account use of blank passwords” can be left Enabled with this method. Also check start / Manage advanced sharing settings / “Public folder sharing” and “Password protected sharing”, I have the public folder on and password protected sharing off.)

  18. Jeremy

    This was awsome I got it to work on the first try Thank you for saving me $100.00 with geek squad that I thought I had it covered by the black tie but I guess not

  19. mOsArt

    I’m having problems with trying to get the printer to share…

    There are 2 computers one running Windows 7 Pro and the other Windows 7 Pro 64x…

    I thought I was going crazy after an hour of trying to get the easy setup going but
    I noticed all the boxes were checked for sharing and I noticed that all the pics, videos etc folders
    were available for sharing on both computers…
    However, there was no printer showing up on the computer without the computer installed..

    then once I clicked the advanced settings on the homegroup and selected the share printer on public and home and network….

    It showed up…the printer showed up but the icon was of a scanner with the name of the HP All in one name on it…I tried using it and kept getting error….

    Can anyone tell me why the printer won’t show up?…I followed the setup step by step

  20. mOsArt

    I forgot to add that….all the other folders were accessible….after several several thorough resubmitting Homegroups…the printer still never showed up…

  21. Zarah

    Your guide is useless, the homegroup sharing is useless. Where is the simple 2 second method of sharing files in a Workgroup? What is it with libraries and stupid stuff that is being added to windows.

    I have used and networked Windows computers since 1990 and I have had with with Windows 7, its is so damn hard and difficult to share a folder its unbelievable.

    Stop thinking of everyoone as stupid idiots putting all their photos in My Documents/Pictures, that is non-sense. We have folders and we are organized. I dont want anything in a LONG LONG LONG path under USERS/blahblah/Pictures

    VERY FRUSTRATIN G in seeing Microsoft going backwards all the time.

    WHERE IS BILL GATES?

  22. mOsArt

    LOL….

    I’d rather use Federora or Ubuntu but hey….I need certain programs that only are Windows Accessible.

    Boy it sounds like you’re having a hard time with Windows 7..its actually copying Linux OS

    Anyone else with some help?

  23. kolaposeun

    hi every body

  24. kolaposeun

    hi what’s up everybody.

  25. billy

    You guys make it harder than it really is. Yes Windows 7 is moving backwards inthe sharing department, but what they were trying to do was build what is known to be an intranet., However they like usual have failed in their efforts. anytime you have to buy a printserver or a new printer with an ethernet built in. Then in my opion you are moving backwards.

    Remember Microsoft only hires Tards!

  26. jwp3575

    I love love love your website!!!! I’ve been searching for how to set up a wireless window 7 printer sharing at home and found your website in the list and will never go anywhere else again!!!! The pics with step by step instructions are the best!!!!! Everything is working great now! Thank you so much…..for being you…..haha

  27. Denise

    Thank you for your time ahead of time. I appreciate the above notes and followed all the steps to confirm that my laptop is still in my homegroup with my desktop. Both run windows 7 and have been setup for about a year on a network with my printer set up on my desktop and shared with my laptop as long as it is on. Now, all of the sudden my printer icon on my laptop show bidirectional support is disabled. I have gone over everything on the desktop and made sure bidirectional support is enabled and it still alerts me. It enables me to print from my laptop but warns me often to enable it. I am confused. What did I do and how can I undo it?
    Thank you so much
    Denise

  28. Mag

    I have everything working…shared between two windows 7 computers but when I go to print from my one of my computers it comes up with printer error. The printer is turned on and the computer that it is attached to is on and logged on. What am I missing?
    Thanks

  29. Mac

    I have been doing exactly what these instructions said to do but I can not access my files on my PC from my laptop. Accessing my PC from my Macbook was no problem. I have come to the conclusion that homegroup in Windows 7 does not work for Windows 7 to Windows 7 access.

  30. bigdodge

    I have just the opsete of MAC the PC can see the files on the laptop but the laptop only see a folder and when I click on the folder no files are found. the loptop also see the printer but when I try to connect is says the address is wrong.

  31. Derek

    I have a PC and laptop both running windows 7 32 bit. I have set up a HomeGroup and the two computer can share files.
    The laptop can see the USB HP Printer attached to the PC. However, when it tries to print to the printer all that happens is that the printer ejects a blank sheet of paper. Both computers are using the latest HP driver. Running the Printer Troubleshooting wizard does not help.
    Does anyone know what the problem is?

  32. Nadhir

    i try the steps still im not able to print from Xp to windows7 32bit,
    im using Hp Lj1020 printer . can you please tell me how i can establish active link between both machine .

    thanks

  33. bruce

    I have a desktop and 3 laptops on my homegroup, I just got another desktop and want to make the new one the base for the homegroup instead of the older desktop. How do I do this?

  34. Judi

    I have Windows 7×64 and an Epson Photo Stylus 1400 wide format (non wireless) which is connected to the desktop via usb. These are working fine. I also have the desktop connected to a broadband modem and a new router and they work great. I have a wireless laptop that works great from the router to the internet, I added it to the desktop homegroup and trying to set up the printer via this way so I can use my laptop to print but it won’t. I even connected my laptop to the router itself (I turned off the wireless, of course) so that maybe this was the problem but the network doesn’t see the laptop. Does anyone have any information to help me with this or is it wishful thinking? Epson said it can be done but I seem to be missing something.

  35. Andrea

    I need HELP!
    I got my Pc and Laptop connected. I can see the libraries that I have placed as shared, but when I want to copy a library from the PC on my laptop it doesn’t let me., saying: “Could not find this item. This is no longer located in:….. Verify the item’s location an try again”. I don’t understand what I’ve done wrong. The same problem occures when I try to copy a library from my Laptop to the PC. I can’t even open the libraries, because I wanted to copy just one file from a library.
    Any advise?

  36. belvinder

    i have problem in my pc. when i install kaspersky2011 internet security. it cant install
    & error message tThe installation ended prematurely because of an error how to solve this error

  37. Parto

    Why dont you all make your lives easier – no wait, that’s wrong – easiest by moving to ubuntu. Windows, me – never. Mostly windows 7, xp was at least better.

  38. Parto

    Oh n I lyk that guy Zarah who said he had been networkin comps since 1990…..great stuff. Thumbs up.

  39. sandeep

    how to connect pc in wrokgroup in windows 7 pro. & how to share printer & folder with other pc aslo installed windows 7 pro.

  40. Agrawal

    @Prashant, the password you need to use is: H1BVISAURNID10T

  41. Paavo

    printer is sharing win7 and my laptop porf xp dont see the printer or win7 computer what i make wrong?
    no firewall only tompsons swtch

  42. majid

    printer is sharing win7 and my laptop porf xp dont see the printer or win7 computer what i make wrong?
    no firewall only tompsons swtch

  43. vl95e5iG4j

    vl95e5iG4j

  44. B

    Once again, MS figures out how to make something that is so simple really retarded.

    They are pros at it.

  45. Ali

    if your home group has password how can you break the pasword and join the grp

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!