Many home computer users have gone to the trouble of setting up a home network to share their Internet connection, but they don't realize that network can be used to share other resources as well. One very useful resource to share is a printer. With a home network, you do not need one printer for each computer, they can all share the same one. This article will assume you are using Windows XP.
The first step to sharing your printer is to uninstall any unnecessary fire wall softwares. The Windows XP built-in firewall is not a problem since it allows printer sharing by default, but other products like Zone Alarm, Norton Internet Security and McAfee Personal Firewall will cause problems and aren't needed when your computer is protected by a network router anyway. To uninstall programs, click Start, then Control Panel, then Add/Remove Programs.
Next you must share the printer. Go to the computer that the printer is connected to. Click Start, then Control Panel. Your Control Panel will have either "Switch to Classic View" or "Switch to Category View" at the top left. If you see "Switch to Classic View", click it. Now double-click on Printers & Faxes. Now right-click on the printer you want to share and click Properties. Click the sharing tab. If you have never enabled sharing on this computer, you will see a link stating that printer sharing must be turned on. If you see this link, click it and do not run the network wizard when asked. Choose to just enable printer sharing. Once printer sharing is enabled you should see two radio buttons. Select the radio button that says "Share this printer" and enter a Share name for the printer. Now click ok.
Next, we need to find the name of this computer. Click start, then right-click on the My Computer icon and click properties. Click the "Computer Name" tab. Your computer name is the text after "Full computer name:" up to, but not including the first period.
Now we can go to the remote computer and connect it to the printer over the network. Click on Start, then run. In the box enter \\ComputerName (Name of the computer from the previous step) and click ok. A window opens. You should see the shared printer here. Double click on it. You will be asked to confirm that you want to load the printer driver. In some cases you may even have to install the printer software on the remote computer from CD. Once this step is done, the printer is connected and you can print to it as if it was connected to your local computer.
Once you have connected your printer over the network to a remote computer, you can repeat the process on each computer on your network so they can all print to it. If you run into problems, contact me.