How to Connect One Printer to Two Computers

By Larry Amon

Sharing computer resources just makes sense. Specifically, sharing a printer between two or more computers is something that more and more people want to do at home and not just at work, as more families are starting to own multiple computers. Printer-sharing has been possible for many years, but with new and cheaper technology, it is now easier than ever. Connecting one printer to two or more computers is very simple, but how you do it will depend on your budget and other constraints.

Step 1

Use a switch. You can buy what is called a printer switch; they are made for both parallel cable and USB cable printers. You simply plug both computers and the printer into the switch and set up the printer on each computer as you normally would. Some of the older-style, parallel printer switches make you physically flip a switch to assign one computer at a time to the printer, but newer and slightly more expensive switches will do this for you automatically. For this solution to work, your computers must be close together.

Step 2

Use Windows printer sharing if you are running Microsoft Windows. Access the Control Panel and then "System" on both computers; make sure file- and printer-sharing is turned on, and that both computers have the same workgroup name. On the computer to which the printer is already connected, go to the Control Panel and select "Printers and Faxes." Select the printer, right-click on it and select "Properties." Select the "Sharing" tab, click on "Share this Printer" and give it a name. On the other computer, go to "Printers and Faxes" and select "Add a Printer." Choose "Network Printer or Printer attached to another computer." Choose the option to browse for a printer, and you should see the name of the printer you shared on the first computer. Follow the instructions in the wizard, and have the printer's driver CD handy to install the printer software on the second computer.

Step 3

Buy a network printer. Many inexpensive printers now include the option of a network connection. You simply need to have a router set up near the printer or a connection to a router near the printer. Set up and turn on the printer. Connect the printer to the router with a network cable, then set up the IP address under the options on the printer. On each computer, you simply have to use the "Add a printer" wizard and provide the IP address you set up in the printer.