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

1
Share Your Windows 7 Printer with Your Mac

Man using computer printer
You can share this printer with Mac and Windows systems. Moodboard/Cultura/Getty Images

Sharing your Windows 7 printer with your Mac is a great way to economize on computing costs for your home, home office, or small business. By using one of several possible printer sharing techniques, you can allow multiple computers to share a single printer, and use the money you would have spent on another printer for something else, say a new iPad.

If you're like many of us, you have a mixed network of PCs and Macs; this is especially likely to be true if you're a new Mac user migrating from Windows. You may already have a printer hooked up to one of your PCs. Rather than buy a new printer for your new Mac, you can use the one you already have.

Printer sharing is usually a pretty easy DIY project, but in the case of Windows 7, you'll find that conventional sharing systems just won't work. Microsoft has once again 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: LPD (Line Printer Daemon).

LPD-based printer sharing should work for most printers, but there are some printers and printer drivers that will simply refuse to support network-based sharing. Luckily, trying the method we will outline for printer sharing has no associated cost; it just takes a little of your time. So, let's see if you can share the printer attached to your Windows 7 computer with your Mac running Snow Leopard.

What You Need for Windows 7 Printer Sharing

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Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac - Configure the Mac's Workgroup Name

Mac network preferences
The workgroup names on your Mac and PC must match in order to share files. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

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.

If you haven't made any changes your Windows or Mac workgroup name, you can jump ahead to page 4.

Change the Workgroup Name on Your Mac (Leopard OS X 10.6.x)

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock.
  2. Click the Network icon in the System Preferences window.
  3. Select 'Edit Locations' from the Location dropdown menu.
  4. Create a copy of your current active location.
    1. Select your active location from the list in the Location sheet. The active location is usually called Automatic and may be the only entry in the sheet.
    2. Click the sprocket button and select 'Duplicate Location' from the pop-up menu.
    3. Type in a new name for the duplicate location or use the default name, which is 'Automatic Copy.'
    4. Click the Done button.
  5. Click the Advanced button.
  6. Select the WINS tab.
  7. In the Workgroup field, enter the same workgroup name you're using on the PC.
  8. Click the OK button.
  9. Click the Apply button.

After you click the Apply button, your network connection will be dropped. After a few moments, your network connection will be re-established, with the new workgroup name you created.

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Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac - Configure the PC's Workgroup Name

Windows 7 properties window with workgroup name showing.
Make sure your Windows 7 workgroup name matches your Mac's workgroup name. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

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. Workgroup names aren't case sensitive, but Windows always uses the uppercase format, so we'll follow that convention here as well.

The Mac also creates a default workgroup name of WORKGROUP, so if you haven't made any changes to either the Windows or the Mac computer, you're ready to go. If you need to change the PC's workgroup name, you should create a Windows restore point, then follow the instructions below for each Windows computer.

Change the Workgroup Name on Your Windows 7 PC

  1. In the Start menu, right-click the Computer link.
  2. Select 'Properties' from the pop-up menu.
  3. In the System Information window that opens, click the 'Change settings' link in the 'Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings' category.
  4. In the System Properties window that opens, click the Change button. The button is located next to the line of text that reads 'To rename this computer or change its domain or workgroup, click Change.'
  5. In the Workgroup field, enter the name of the workgroup. Remember, the workgroup names must match on the PC and the Mac. Click OK. A status dialog box will open, saying 'Welcome to the X workgroup,' where X is the name of the workgroup you entered earlier.
  6. Click OK in the status dialog box.
  7. A new status message will appear, telling you that 'You must restart this computer for the changes to take effect.'
  8. Click OK in the status dialog box.
  9. Close the System Properties window by clicking OK.

Restart your Windows PC.

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Share Your Windows 7 Printer with Your Mac - Enable Sharing and LPD on Your PC

Adding Windows Features to Windows 7
LPD Print Services is disabled by default. You can turn the service on with just a simple checkmark. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Your Windows 7 PC needs to have the LPD printer sharing protocol enabled. By default, the LPD capabilities are turned off. Luckily, turning them back on is an easy process.

Enable Windows 7 LPD Protocol

  1. Select Start, Control Panels, Programs.
  2. In the Programs Panel, select 'Turn Windows features on or off.'
  3. In the Windows Features window, click the plus (+) sign next to Print and Document Services.
  4. Place a check mark next to the 'LPD Print Service' item.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Restart your Windows 7 PC.

Enable Printer Sharing

  1. Select 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.
  4. Place a check mark next to the 'Share this printer' item.
  5. In the Share name: field, give the printer a name. Be sure not to use spaces or special characters. A short, easy-to-remember name is best.
  6. Place a check mark next to the 'Render print jobs on client computers' item.
  7. Click OK

Get the Windows 7 IP Address

You will need to know the IP address of your Windows 7 computer. If you don't know what it is, you can find out by following these steps.

  1. Select Start, Control Panels.
  2. In the Control Panels window, click the 'View network status and tasks' item.
  3. In the Network and Sharing Center windows, click the 'Local Area Connection' item.
  4. In the Local Area Connection Status window, click the Details button.
  5. Write down the entry for IPv4 Address. This is your Windows 7 computer's IP address, which you will use when you configure your Mac in later steps.

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Share Your Windows 7 Printer With Your Mac - Add an LPD Printer to Your Mac

Advance Printer Setup allows for using a line printer daemon based printer.
Use the Advance button in the Add Printer toolbar to gain access to the LPD printing capabilities of your Mac. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

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

Adding an LPD 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 the Print & Fax icon in the System Preferences window.
  3. The Print & Fax preference pane or Printers & Scanners (depending on the version of the Mac OS you are using) will display a list of currently configured printers and faxes.
  4. Click the plus (+) sign at the bottom of the list of printers and faxes/scanners.
  5. The Add Printer window will open.
  6. If the Add Printer window's toolbar contain an Advanced icon, skip to step 10.
  7. Right-click the toolbar and select 'Customize Toolbar' from the pop-up menu.
  8. Drag the Advanced icon from the icon palette to the Add Printer window's toolbar.
  9. Click the Done button.
  10. Click the Advanced icon in the toolbar.
  11. Use the Type dropdown menu to select 'LPD/LPR Host or Printer.'
  12. In the URL field, enter the IP address of the Windows 7 PC and the shared printer's name in the following 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.

  13. Use the Print Using the 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. You can also use Select Printer Driver to pick the specific driver for your printer.

    Remember, not all printer drivers support the LPD protocol, so if the selected driver doesn't function, try one of the generic types.

  14. Click the Add button.

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. If it's not already open, launch System Preferences, and then click the Print & Fax preference pane.
  2. Highlight the printer you just added to the printer list by clicking it once.
  3. In the right-hand side of the Print & Fax preference pane, click the Open Print Queue button.
  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.

That's it; you're ready to use your shared Windows 7 printer on your Mac.

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. For example: The specific driver for your printer may not work, but a generic version may, either from the same printer manufacturer or from a third party, such as CUPS or Gutenprint drivers.