Installing and Sharing Printers with Windows XP

Before you get too worried about the idea of configuring your XP system as any type of server, keep in mind that any system hosting shared resources is already performing server-based functions. For example, if you’ve already shared a folder on your system, XP is acting as a file server. Share a printer, and you’ve got a print server up and running already.

Installing a printer on XP is as simple as walking through the steps of the Add Printer Wizard found in the Printers and Faxes tool and selecting the options to add a local printer. As part of the process you’ll also be able to specify whether the new printer should be shared, and give that printer an appropriate share name. For example, while the local name of the printer may be HP LaserJet 1000, you might want to pick a more intuitive name as the share name, such as “laser”. This will make it easy for other users to connect to and identify your shared printer using tools like My Network Places.

When a network card is installed on an XP system, the ability to share files and printers is enabled automatically in the properties of your network card. However, you may have previously disabled this feature, so it’s worth knowing how to re-enable it if necessary. To do so, open the Network Connections tool, right-click on your network card, and click Properties. Ensure that the checkbox next to File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks is checked and you’re ready to go – making your system a server is truly as easy as that.

Assuming that File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks is enabled, sharing an existing local printer is a piece of cake. For example, let’s say that you installed a local printer on your XP system and didn’t share it during the initial installation process, but want to share it now. Simply right-click on the printer in the Printers and Faxes window and click Sharing. This will open the properties of the printer to the Sharing tab, as shown below. To make the printer available to other network clients, simply select the Share this printer radio button, and then give the shared printer a name by which it will be identified on the network. Any name will do, but a shorter descriptive name is typically a better choice, especially if you ever have to type it out manually in a wizard or otherwise. After clicking OK, the printer will already be shared and ready for network clients to connect to and use.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.