Configuring printers on a network can be difficult, especially if you have no experience in PC tech support. Fortunately, Windows 7 has made printer sharing easier than ever. Today, we’re going to show you how to easily share a printer between two computers running Windows XP and Windows 7.
This walkthrough assumes that your printer is already connected to your Windows XP machine and that you’re trying to print a document from your Windows 7 PC. This is a common problem for people with older PCs who now have new laptops running Windows 7.
Go to your printer menu on Windows XP. This can be found in your control panel. Once there, find the printer that you want to use, right-click, and select Sharing. From the window that opens, click on the Share this printer button and type in a random name for your printer. Keep in mind that this name cannot exceed 8 characters and cannot use any special symbols.
Note: if your printer is already being shared on your network then this setting could already be enabled. Remember the Share name of your printer and save it for the next step.
Go to your Windows 7 PC and find the Network and Internet menu from the system’s control panel. From the window that opens, select View network computers and devices.
If your Windows XP PC and your Windows 7 PC are connected to the same wireless (or wired) network, then you should be able to see the XP PC here, under the Computers heading. It should have a special name, like the name of the primary user of that PC. Double click on the name of your Windows XP PC.
Your Windows XP printer will be in the menu that pops up. Right-click on it and select Connect. Windows 7 will now automatically add your Windows XP printer to your devices menu, which means that you can select it when printing any documents in the future.
Troubleshooting the “Cannot connect to printer” error message
Some users may receive the vague Cannot connect to printer error message. While Windows 7 won’t suggest a solution for this problem, we can help you solve it.
First, go to your Start Menu and find Devices and Printers. Along the top of this menu there will be a button that says Add a printer. Click on it.
A Wizard-type menu will pop up that walks you through the printer installation process. Select the Add a local printer button. Windows 7 will then prompt you to create a new port. Beside the Type of port setting select Local port.
Windows will now ask you to enter a port name. Don’t panic! This step is actually pretty easy. Your port name will be:
Remember when you saw your Windows XP computer under the Computers heading up above? The name you saw there will be the name you type into the Port Name box. This is followed by the Share name of the printer you’re trying to connect. If that printer is connected to your Windows XP computer (which it should be if you followed the steps listed above), then that port name will work.
Next, Windows will ask you to install the printer driver. Conveniently enough, there should already be a list of common drivers that you can install. However, if your printer is old, then you may have to download a Windows 7 driver from the internet (or put the installation disk into your PC).
After the driver is installed, your printer should be successfully connected to your Windows 7 PC. Double check this by printing a document.