How to share a printer in Windows 7 step by step

This tutorial explains how to share a printer in Windows 7 network manually and automatically through Devices & Printers and HomeGroup printer sharing option respectively. Learn how to install and share a local and network printer in Windows 7 step by step.

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 an easier task.

A printer can be shared in two ways: -

  • Automatic printer sharing via Homegroup setup wizard
  • Manual printer sharing via Device and printer Manager

We will learn both methods in detail with example. For this tutorial I assume that Homegroup is properly configured on all systems.

To learn how to setup Homegroup in network step by step, please see the following tutorial.

Learn how to create and manage Homegroup in Windows 7

Automatic Printer sharing via the Homegroup

While running Homegroup setup wizard, we are asked to select the default shared items from a list which also includes an option for printer. If we have selected that option then nothing is left to do. Printer is already shared in network.

homegroup setup wizard printer share

Due to some reason, if this option was not checked while running the Homegroup setup wizard, same can be done anytime from Homegroup management console. To launch Homegroup management console open Control panel and click Choose Homegroup and Sharing options

homegroup link control pannel

Select Printers and click Save changes

homegroup control pannel printer sharing

Once clicked, Homegroup scans all locally installed printers and share them with network automatically. Since in this method, Homegroup handles all sharing related tasks, it is known as automatic printer sharing via Homegroup.

Manual printer sharing via Devices and Printers manager

Windows 7 provides a centralized console to manage all printer related tasks. This console is known Device and Printers manager. To access the Devices and Printers manager, click Start button and click Device and Printers.

start button devices and printers

This console allows us to perform all printer related tasks such as viewing or listing all installed printers, adding a new printer, removing an existing printer, setting a printer as default printer, sharing an installed printer and changing printer state.

We will learn all essential tasks one by one. Let’s start with adding a new printer.

How to add or install a printer in Windows 7

To add a new printer, attach it with system and power on it. Now wait for few seconds and let the Windows automatically detects and installs this printer. If Windows does not detect it or you want to install it manually, click Add a printer

add printer

This will open “Add a printer” wizard.

On first screen, we have to select the type of printer. There are two types of printer: -

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

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

Since we are installing a printer that is physically attached with this system, click Add a local printer and click Next

add a local printer

On next screen, we need to select the printer port. A printer port is the port which computer uses to exchange the data with printer.

Select the port on which computer is attached and click Next.

add printer wizard lpt port

On next screen, wizard requires printer drive location. 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 location and click Next

add printer wizard select driver

At next screen, we have to specify the printer name. We can select any descriptive and unique name for printer.

Type printer name and click Next

printer name

On next screen, wizard gives us 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

Now wait for few seconds, let the wizard compete the installation process. In final screen, we 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

To set this printer as default printer, select it and do right click. In right click context menu, click Set as default printer.

set default printer

To share this printer, select it and do right click. In right click context menu click Printer properties option.

set default printer

It will open a new window. Switch to Sharing tab and Select Share this printer checkbox and type a share name. This name is 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.

Click OK to share this printer.

printer properties sharing tab

Once printer is shared, an indicative Shared logo will appear in printer state.

shared printer

How to install a network printer in member computers

Homegroup continuously scans for shared resources. So if Homegroup is properly configured and a printer driver for shared printer is available in Windows inbuilt driver library, a network printer will be installed automatically in member computers.

If it is not installed automatically, we can install it manually by using the same “Add a printer” wizard.

On member computer access Devices and Printers manager and click Add a printer

add printer

This time we are installing a printer that is not physically connected with this computer, so choose the second option and click Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer.

add new network printer

Wizard 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 want isn't listed.

The printer that I wan isn’t listed

If we click “The printer that I want isn't listed”, next screen will present three more options to locate the network printer.

Browse for a printer: - In this option, wizard searches for network printer automatically.

Select a shared printer by name: - This option allows 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

Once desired printer is selected, click Next

network printer

Click Next to confirm the installation

network printer name

In few seconds wizard will complete the installation. If require, we can also verify the installation by printing a test page before closing the wizard.

Click Finish to close the wizard.

print a test page

Once printer is installed, we can set this printer as default printer from right click context menu.

set printer as default printer

Viewing, listing and getting information about a printer

To view or list all installed printer in system, all we need to do is just access Devices and Printers manager. On home screen, it lists all installed printers. Selecting a printer displays all related information about printer in status bar such as type of printer; local or network, model number, category, host system and state.

homegroup printer share

Using a network printer

A properly installed network printer works just like a local printer. From an application’s there is no difference between local printer and network printer.

Let’s create a test file with some dummy data and give print command.

print option in file menu

The application, in this context Notepad, lists all available printers for job. Default printer would be selected by default. Unless we 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

From Devices and Printers manger, we can easily find out what is currently printing. In some situation this feature becomes life saver. For example consider a situation where printer is printing a thousand pages file and we want to know who send this job. In this situation, we can use this feature to get all necessary information.

Select printer which is printing the job file and do right click. From opened right click context menu click See what’s printing

what is printing

Opened window lists all print jobs including their current status.

what is printing view

That’s all for this tutorial.

ComputerNetworkingNotes Windows 7 Tutorials How to share a printer in Windows 7 step by step