If you are using a printer at home or in your office and looking for a way to get the much desired ability to access your peripheral from a remote computer, then you've come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll highlight the simplest ways to share your printer for remote access. The good news for Windows users: you can do this with the help of the built-in HomeGroup feature working across LAN. The even better news: if you’d like to go further than your local network and share a printer over the Internet, there are efficient software apps that can help you easily achieve this. Plus, the dedicated programs will let you share printers from not only Windows but also Mac, Linux, and Android. Read on to learn more.
As I’ve already mentioned, the standard Windows options allow you to share your printer only within a local network. So, I’ll start the write-up with more versatile solutions like FlexiHub and USB Network Gate. These third-party tools work across any distance and make it possible to redirect printers over the Internet.
If you don’t know which solution to choose to share a printer on a network, you may use an efficient printer sharing software - FlexiHub. It allows access and helps to share a printer on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android platforms.
Your printer will be redirected to the machine, and you can use it as if it were connected physically to the computer. In free FlexiShare subscription you don't have an opportunity to connect to remote devices. If you need to access remote printer over network you will have to pay for FlexiHub connections.
Looking for an easy and effective way to share a printer over the network? USB Network Gate is specifically designed to provide remote access to USB devices, and will certainly help with sharing a printer over network in a couple of clicks.
If you are firm in your intention to share a printer using the standard Windows options, go ahead. But be ready to do a little legwork to make it work.
The HomeGroup feature allows both beginners and experienced system administrators to easily create networks of Windows-based computers connected via a local area network. These networks can operate without domain controllers (DC) and provide the ability to share resources such as printers and files. This option is primarily aimed at the mass consumer, but it can also be used by employees of small enterprises who do not have the support of IT specialists.
The Microsoft HomeGroup protocol is an open standard for peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, formed on the basis of the Web Services on Devices (WSD) protocol. The standard is used to publish and discover resources on local subnets without using client-server infrastructure. By using IPv6 P2P graphing technology in conjunction with the Peer Name Resolution Protocol (PNRP), computers get the ability to detect each other without the help of a DHCP version 6 server (DHCPv6).
When a user connects to a new home network, this activates a simple master program; if the program cannot detect any homegroup on the network, the user is offered to create a new homegroup to share some libraries, such as Documents and Videos. If the computer is included in the domain, the user can join the existing HomeGroup, if there’s any on the local network.
As I’ve already mentioned, the HomeGroup setup program allows users to share their files and devices with others. A more detailed configuration can be obtained by enabling the “Share with” option in the Windows Explorer. Also, you can select one or several folders and then disable the sharing function (by selecting Nobody from the Share with menu) or grant read-only access (Read) or read-write access (Read/Write). By default, read-only access rights are applied to library materials shared by members of home groups. If you decide to enable the Share with option to give users the right to read and write, do not forget that, in fact, users will receive the full set of Full Control permissions (which means, they will be able to delete files, among other things).
Now let’s see how the Homegroup feature can help you share your printer with other users.
Before you start, make sure that the printer is attached to one of your local computers and is configured properly.
Then, launch the HomeGroup control panel app, Start> type “homegroup”>Enter.
Your next steps will depend on what will be shown in the HomeGroup window.
Scenario 1. The computer where the printer is connected physically is already added to a HomeGroup but the printer isn’t shared yet:
Scenario 2. There’s a HomeGroup on your local network but the computer with the printer attached to it is not a member of this group:
Scenario 3. You need to create a new HomeGroup:
Once, you've set up your new HomeGroup and shared your printer over LAN, other users can access the device remotely.
In April 2018, the HomeGroup feature was removed by Microsoft from Windows 10 platform. So, if you run the latest Windows update on your PC, you won’t be able to create or access HomeGroups to share your printer. Instead, you can rely on other tools that have always been a part of Windows.
So, in order to make your printer accessible for other computers, you should first connect it to your local PC and check whether you can print to it from the computer.
Then, head to the Control Panel and choose “Devices and Printers”. Right-click the printer you’d like to share over the network and select “Printer properties” from the context menu. After that, go to the Sharing tab.
Note that it won’t be possible to share the printer if the machine to which it is connected is in the sleeping mode or is shut down.
As for the password protected sharing, all users that want to access a shared printer remotely will need to type a username and password when they first connect to the device. They won’t have to do it each time they access the printer though. Also, you can allow printing to your device from any guest PC. In this case, there won’t be any password protection.
Enable the option ’Share this printer’ there. You can also change the name for the printer you’re going to share, if necessary.
One more useful option is the ability to render print jobs on client machines. If you enable this feature, the documents will be rendered on the computers where the printing is done and not on the one where the printer is connected physically. This will help to protect the “server” system from being impacted when clients use the device.
After that, simply click ‘Apply’ and make your printer available for access on your network.
Now, it’s time to have a closer look at the second part of the process: how to connect other computers to the printer that has been shared across the network. And here we have two main ways.
In case you share your printer using the HomeGroup feature, connecting to this device from other computers will be super easy. You just need to make sure that remote computers have joined your HomeGroup, all the rest will be done by Windows. Once a PC becomes a member of a HomeGroup, it automatically gets access to all devices shared from other PCs. That means your shared printer will just appear in the Devices and Printers windows of client computers.
Connecting to devices shared using methods other than HomeGroup is neither too easy nor too difficult. You just need to follow a few steps: go to ‘Devices and Printers’ and hit the ‘Add Printer’ button.
Windows will check whether there are any devices on your network that haven’t been installed on your PC yet and show them in the “Add a device” window. If you see the required printer there, just click it, and Windows will take care about its installation and download drivers if needed.
If you don’t see the printer, click “The printer that I want isn’t listed”. You’ll get the following options:
By enabling one of these options you make Windows try one more time to scan your network but there’s little hope that it’ll find anything that it didn’t see before. However, if you know the exact network name of the printer that you need, the TCP/IP address or hostname, another attempt to find the device on the network can be successful.
So, these are the options you get if you don’t share your printer using HomeGroup. But I hope you won’t have to ever bother with those ones. If your printer is properly connected to the network, chances are high that Windows will do everything for you straight away.
One of the most useful capabilities you may find in a modern printer is the built in networking. More and more current-day printers come with support for Wi-Fi, Ethernet or both. This is very convenient, as you don’t need to have your PC turned on to be able to access the printer. Now, you can connect to the printer directly over the network.
There’s no a general instruction on how to configure the networking option on your printer, as the set up depends on the type of the printer you have. But if you are sure that your device supports this feature just check the manual that came with your printer or the manufacturer’s website for information.