Use Printer Sharing to Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac

Connect your Mac to a local printer attached to a Windows 7 computer

Here's how to share your Windows 7 printer with your Mac to economize on computing costs for your home, home office, or small business.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supports Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

These instructions apply to Windows 7 and Snow Leopard.

Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac

Man using a computer printer.
Moodboard / Cultura / Getty Images

Printer sharing is usually a pretty easy DIY project, but in the case of Windows 7, conventional sharing systems just won't work. Microsoft modified how the sharing protocol works, which means we can no longer use the standard SMB sharing protocol we normally use with older versions of Windows. Instead, we have to find a different common protocol that both the Mac and Windows 7 can use.

We're going to return to an older printer sharing method that's been around for ages, one that both Windows 7 and OS X and macOS support: Line Printer Daemon.

LPD-based printer sharing should work for most printers, but some printers and printer drivers refuse to support network-based sharing.

What You Need for Windows 7 Printer Sharing

A few things must be in place before you begin this process:

  • A working network, either wired or wireless.
  • A printer that's connected directly to your Windows 7 computer.
  • A common workgroup name for the PC and Mac.
  • A Mac with OS X Snow Leopard or later installed.
  • A few minutes of your time.

Configure the Workgroup Name

Mac network preferences
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The Mac and PC need to be in the same workgroup for file sharing to work. Windows 7 uses a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP. If you haven't made any changes to the workgroup name on the Windows computer connected to your network, then you're ready to go. The Mac also creates a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP for connecting to Windows machines.

Enable Sharing and LPD on Your PC

By default, the LPD capabilities are turned off in Windows 7. Turn them back on.

  1. In Control Panel > Programs and Features, select Turn Windows features on or off.

    Turn Windows features on or off
  2. In the Windows Features window, click the plus sign next to Print and Document Services. The plus sign will change to a minus sign, and a menu will drop down.

    Minus sign next to Print and Document Services
  3. Place a checkmark next to the LPD Print Service item and click OK.

    Checkbox next to LPD Print Service
  4. Restart your Windows 7 PC.

Next, enable printer sharing:

  1. Select Start > Devices and Printers.

    Start > Devices and Printers
  2. In the Printers and Fax list, right-click the printer you wish to share and select Printer Properties from the pop-up menu.

  3. In the Printer Properties window, click the Sharing tab.

    Sharing menu in Windows 7
  4. Place a checkmark next to the Share this printer item.

    Share this printer
  5. In the Share name field, give the printer a name. Don't use spaces or special characters.

    Share name
  6. Place a checkmark next to Render print jobs on client computers and click OK.

    Render print jobs on client computers

Adding an LPD Printer to Your Mac

With the Windows printer and the computer connected to it active, and the printer set up for sharing, you're ready to add the printer to your Mac.

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the dock or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

  2. Click Print & Fax (or Printers & Scanners, for recent versions of macOS) in the System Preferences window.

    Printers & Scanners in macOS Catalina
  3. Click the plus sign at the bottom of the list of printers and faxes/scanners to launch the Add Printer utility.

    Adding a printer in Printers & Scanners
  4. Click the IP tab. (In older versions of OS X and macOS, you might need to click Advanced to produce this screen.)

    Add IP printer
  5. Use the Protocol (or Type) dropdown menu to select LPD/LPR Host or Printer.

    Protocol: LPD
  6. In the URL field, enter the IP address of the Windows 7 PC and the shared printer's name in this format:
    lpd://IP Address/Shared Printer Name

    For example: If your Windows 7 PC has an IP address of 192.168.1.37 and your shared printer's name is HPInkjet, then the URL should look like this:
    lpd/192.168.1.37/HPInkjet

    The URL field is case sensitive, so HPInkjet and hpinkjet aren't the same.

    Adding IP address for printer
  7. Use the Print Using dropdown menu to select a printer driver to use. If you're not sure which one to use, try the Generic Postscript or Generic PCL printer driver. Try Select Printer Driver to pick the specific driver for your printer. Bear in mind, however, that not all printer drivers support the LPD protocol. If the selected driver doesn't function, try one of the generic types.

    Add printer > Use
  8. Click Add.

Testing the Printer

The Windows 7 printer should now appear in the printer list in the Print & Fax preference pane. To test whether the printer is working, have your Mac generate a test print:

  1. Launch System Preferences > Print & Fax.

  2. Highlight the printer you just added to the printer list by clicking it once.

  3. On the right-hand side of the Print & Fax preference pane, click Open Print Queue.

  4. From the menu, select Printer > Print Test Page.

  5. The test page should appear in the printer queue on your Mac and then print through your Windows 7 printer.

Troubleshooting a Shared Windows 7 Printer

Not all printers will work using the LPD protocol, usually because the printer driver on the Mac or Windows 7 computer doesn't support this sharing method. If your printer isn't working, try the following:

  • Update the printer drivers on both your Mac and Windows 7 computers.
  • Try a different printer driver. The specific driver for your printer may not work, but a generic version may, either from the same printer manufacturer or from a different vendor, such as CUPS or Gutenprint drivers.