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How to share a printer?
A comprehensive printer sharing guide

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.

Contents

  1. Software for sharing printers over the Internet
    1. FlexiHub
    2. USB Network Gate
  2. How to share printer on LAN. Windows methods
    1. Printer sharing using HomeGroup
    2. Share printer without HomeGroup
  3. Connect to shared printers on the network
    1. If the printer was shared via HomeGroup
    2. If HomeGroup was not used to share the printer
  4. Wireless Printer

Software for sharing printers over the Internet

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.


FlexiHub

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.

FlexiHub

Windows, macOS, Linux, Android
4.8 Rank based on 78+ users

FlexiHub easily connects any remote printer no matter where it is.

FlexiHub

How to connect to a shared printer. Step-by-step guide

  1. Register a free FlexiHub account here or directly in the app later.
  2. Start a FlexiHub trial by choosing the number of connections.
  3. Install and open the software on both machines participating in the connection. To log in enter your registration e-mail and password.
  4. In the FlexiHub interface find the printer you are going to connect to and click the "Connect" button.
  5. That’s it! You may manage the printer like it is plugged to your computer directly!
printer sharing last step

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.

Pros:
  • The app works via wireless network
  • All connections are protected with advanced encryption
  • The app enables you to share any USB and Serial devices – scanners, web cameras, projectors, mobile phones, etc.

Cons:
  • Free version doesn't allow to access remote devices
  • The software has to be installed on all of your machines which will connect to the remote printer

USB Network Gate

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.

Few easy steps:

  1. Download and install USB Network Gate .exe file. It is available here (version for Mac, version for Linux). Install on other computers too.
  2. Once you install it, the printer to be shared will be displayed in the Devices window. If you need to change the port, add encryption into the connection or encipher data transfer – press the gearwheel icon next to Share. Once the setup is complete, click Share. Now the printer can be seen on all machines with USB Network Gate.

USB Network Gate

Windows XP and later, OS X 10.9+, Ubuntu 14.04+, Android 4.0 and above
4.9 Rank based on 179+ users

Looking for an easy and effective way to share printer over LAN? 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.

USB Network Gate
Pros:
  • 14-days trial version has a complete functionality
  • App is available for Mac and Linux also
  • Licensing works as standard software – you will only have to pay once
  • Unlike FlexiHub, it is capable to share printers over LAN as well

Cons:
  • Once the trial period is over you will need to buy a license for $159.95
  • The app has to be installed on every computer that needs access to the printer
Share printer

How to share a printer over LAN. Windows methods


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.


Printer sharing using HomeGroup

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:

  • Click the “Change what you’re sharing with the HomeGroup” link.
  • Select “Shared” on the “Printers & Devices” drop-down menu.
  • Hit Next. Now, you can close the HomeGroup options.

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:

  • So, first, you’ll need to join that group. To do this, click “Join now,” and then “Next”.
  • After that, make sure that the option “Shared” is enabled for “Printers & Devices,” click “Next".
  • Enter the password for the HomeGroup you’d like to join, click “Next".
  • Click “Finish”.

Scenario 3. You need to create a new HomeGroup:

  • Click “Create a HomeGroup”, then click “Next".
  • Select the “Shared” option for “Printers & Devices,” click “Next".
  • The final screen shows the password you’ll need for other PCs on your network to connect to the HomeGroup. Write it down and then click “Finish”.

Once, you've set up your new HomeGroup and shared your printer over LAN, other users can access the device remotely.


Share printer without HomeGroup

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.

Sharing printer over network

Connect to shared printers on the 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.


If the printer was shared via HomeGroup

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.


If HomeGroup was not used to share the printer

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.


Wireless Printer

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.

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