Windows 7 Networking Tutorial

This tutorial presents a step by step guide of sharing printer in windows 7 network.

Printer is an essential device for home and office network. In a small home network either we can buy a separate printer for each computer or even better we can buy a single printer and share it. Windows 7 has an inbuilt feature that makes printer sharing easier.

We have two ways of printer sharing in windows 7 network.

  • Automatic sharing via homegroup setup wizard
  • Manual sharing via device and printer manager

How to share printer in homegroup

For this article we assume that you have a working homegroup. If you haven't setup a homegroup or looking for a way to setup the new homegroup we suggests you to go through the previous articles of this category. This category is organized in start to finish way. In starting tutorials we explained how to setup a new homegroup. In middle articles we present a way to add new computers in homegroup. Later we learned how to manage a homegroup. In this article we will describe the method of printer sharing in homegroup.

Sharing via homegroup is the easiest way of printer sharing. All you need to do is select a checkbox during the homegroup setup wizard and rest will be done automatically.

homegroup setup wizard printer share

We can launch this default sharing window again from homegroup control panel. Open Control panel and Click Choose homegroup and sharing options

homegroup link control pannel

Homegroup control panel has the same default sharing options those we have seen in homegroup creation wizard. We can share printers from here as well.

homegroup control pannel printer sharing

All local and shared printers can be managed from Devices and Printers manager. From here we can add new printer, remove existing printer, change printer status, share printer and list all network printers.

To access the Devices and Printers manager click Start button and click Device and Printers

start button devices and printers

Devices and Printers manager will list all detected printers including local and shared. Selecting a printer will display all its related information in status bar. For example following figure illustrates a shared printer.

homegroup printer share

We can set any desire printer as default printer from here.

Sharing printer via homegroup is an automatic process. It is easy to setup and mange. Along with automatic process of printer sharing, Windows 7 also supports manual process of printer sharing. Manual process requires a little bit technical knowledge. Next section of this tutorial presents a step by step guide for manual printer sharing.

How to share printer in Windows 7

To give you a clear idea of printer sharing we will start from scratch. We will install a new printer in Windows 7 and share it in network. Later we will demonstrate how other users can access it.

How to install a new printer in Windows 7

Attach a printer to the Windows 7 system and wait for few second. Windows will automatically install the appropriate driver for the printer. If it does not work, follow the following steps.

Click Start button and click Devices and Printers

start button device and printer

To add a new printer click Add a printer

add printer

We have two types of printers:-

Local printer: -
Printer that is physically connected with this system.

Network, wireless or Bluetooth printer: -
Printer that is not connected physically with this system.

Select Add a local printer and click Next

add a local printer

Computer exchanges data with printer on LPT port. Usually windows will select appropriate port automatically. Click Next

add printer wizard lpt port

We have three options to find the printer driver.

  • Default list: - Windows has an inbuilt library of most common printer drivers. Left side lists the manufactures. Right side lists the printers of selected manufacturer from left side.
  • Windows update: - This option will update the inbuilt library from internet.
  • Have disk: - Usually manufacturer of printer release driver cd with the printer. This cd contains printer driver for common OS. Use this option if you have driver cd.

Select appropriate option and click Next

add printer wizard select driver

We should always use a unique name for the printer. This will help us in managing the printer. Type a printer name and click Next

printer name

We have a choice to share this printer right now. If we select Share this printer option, printer will be shared immediately after this wizard is finished. Select Do not share this printer and click Next

do not share printer

You can print a test page to verify the installation process. Click Finish to close the wizard.

print a test page

We have successfully installed the printer.

local printer

Our next objective is to set this printer as default printer and share it in network. This can be achieved from right click context menu.

Click Set as default printer and click Printer properties

set default printer

Printer properties contents options to manage the printer.

Switch to Sharing tab.

Select the Share this printer checkbox and type a share name. This name will be used to access this printer from network.

Render print jobs on client computers: - This option is usually used in large network to reduce the rendering job from printer server. Select this option if our client computers have sufficient resources. In a home network this option doesn’t make any difference.

printer properties sharing tab

We have completed our half journey. Our printer is ready to receive print job from network.

shared printer

At this point we assumed that your computers are connected with each other's and users can access shared resources. Next section explains how a network user can access this printer.

How to access shared printer in Windows 7

In a homegroup network windows 7 system continuously keep scanning for shared resources. If your homegroup is properly setup, you are good to see the shared printer automatically in Devices and Printers manager. If you don't see the shared printer, follow the following steps.

Click Add a printer

add printer

This time we are installing a network printer that is not physically connected with this computer. So we need to choose the second option. Click Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.

add new network printer

Windows will search entire network for shared printer and list the result. If the printer that we are looking for is available in the list, select that and click Next otherwise click The printer that I wan isn't listed.

The printer that I wan isn’t listed

If we have clicked The printer that I want isn't listed in previous window, it will present three more options to locate the network printer.

  • Browse for a printer:- Windows will search for network printer automatically. It works in the same way that we have seen in previous window.
  • Select a shared printer by name: - Allow us to browse the network for shared printer.
  • Add a printer using a TCP/IP address or hostname:- A little more advance feature that allows us to specify a network printer based on its IP address or hostname.

Select second option and click Browse button.

browse network printer

Browse through the network and select the shared printer.

select network printer

Click Next. Windows will automatically install necessary drivers for selected printer.

network printer

It may prompt for an administrator password or confirmation. If asks for administrator password, type the password of administrator or If ask for confirmation, click Next for confirmation.

network printer name

You may print a test page to check the printer installation.

Click Finish to close the wizard.

print a test page

Select the shared printer and set it default printer for this computer.

set printer as default printer

Bingo we have finished long part of this long tutorial. We are only few steps away from finish line. Our last objective for this tutorial is to verify the printer sharing.

Create a test file with some dummy data and give print command.

print option in file menu

Window will list of all available printers for this print job. Default printer will be selected by default. Default printer for this computer is a network printer. Unless you select another printer, clicking print button will redirect this print job to the network printer.

client default printer

How to find out what is currently printing in windows 7

In a windows 7 system we can easily find out what is currently printing. In some situation this feature becomes life saver. For example consider a situation where your printer is printing a thousand pages file and you want to know who send this job. In that situation this feature will give us all necessary information.

Select printer from Devices and Printer manager and do right click. From opened right click context menu click See what’s printing

what is printing

Currently our printer is printing test-page file that it received from network user.

what is printing view

Once you successfully installed a network print, you can access it from any program through the print dialog box. It works exactly same as printer that’s directly connected to your system.