So I have a few Macs and a few PCs in my house and it’s always fun trying to get everything to communicate with each other. Luckily, with OS X Snow Leopard/Lion and Windows XP/7, communication between the different platforms is pretty good. Earlier is used to be a royal pain to get the two to talk, but now file sharing and printer sharing is pretty straightforward.
For example, I have a printer attached to my Windows 7 computer in my home office and I wanted to be able to print to it from my MacBook Pro running Lion. I thought it was going to take a long time, but luckily it didn’t! In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to share a printer from Windows XP or Windows 7 to your Mac.
Note that the part about adding the printer to your Mac is the same regardless of whether it’s from Windows XP or Windows 7. The only difference is the way your share the printer in XP and 7.
Share Windows XP Printer
The first thing that needs to be done is the share the printer. In Windows XP, you can do this by going to Control Panel and clicking on Printers and Faxes.
Next, right-cick on the printer and choose Properties.
Finally, click on the Sharing tab and choose Share this printer.
It’s probably a good idea to keep the name of the printer short (less than 8 characters) and also not to include any spaces or special characters. Just keep it to letters and numbers. Click OK and you’re done. Now skip down to the adding printer to your Mac section for the rest of the instructions.
Share Windows 7 Printer
In Windows 7, the process of sharing a printer is slightly different. First, go to Control Panel and click on Devices and Printers.
Next, right-click on the printer and choose Printer Properties. In XP, you had to choose just Properties.
Finally, go to the Sharing tab and check Share this printer. That’s it for the Windows part!
Add Windows Printer to OS X
Now for the final part. In OS X, go to System Preferences and click on Print & Scan.
Now click on the little + button at the bottom of the box that shows you the currently installed printers.
Now you’ll get a pop up dialog that has a few options across the top. In our case, we want to click on Windows. This will automatically find all the Windows computers on your network! Sweet!
Click on the name of the computer with the shared printer and you’ll be asked to connect to it as a guest or registered user. In my experience, I was only able to connect as a registered user and only to Windows computers that had a username AND password. If you don’t have a password on your Windows user account, you won’t be able to connect and therefore won’t be able to see the shared printers. I can’t figure out a way to get it to work without having a password on the Windows account.
Now you’l see the last box on the right will have the name of the shared printer(s).
Click on the printer and then at the bottom you have to choose how to print. You have an option for Generic Postscript or Generic PCL, but normally you’re going to want to choose Select Printer Software. By default, OS X has a lot of drivers for the most common printers.
They even had my Lexmark 7600 printer in the list, meaning I didn’t have to worry about downloading the latest Mac driver for my printer and installing that.
And that’s about it. The software will be installed and you should be able to print. If your printer is not in the list, then you had to choose Other in the drop down and then choose the driver manually. You’ll have to download the latest Mac driver for your printer in order to do that.
Having trouble connecting to the shared printer on your Windows machine? If so, post a comment here and tell us where your process failed. Enjoy!