How to: Share Printers Between Linux, Windows and Mac PCs on a Network

All operating systems, despite their huge differences, can share their components, when they are part of a network. One essential category of components that can be shared between operating systems is printers. As a result, you could use just a printer for the need of all your computers, which are part of your home network.

The only requirement for such a process is the type of your printer. Furthermore, your printer must be a wired one, like a USB printer, in order to connect your printing device with one of your PCs. This process does not apply to modern wireless printers, because they connect to a network and then share themselves. Therefore, you could just connect to them.

Let’s take a closer look on how you can share a printer in every operating system.

Share a Printer on Windows

  • First of all, go to the Network and Sharing Center from the Windows Control Panel and click on Change advanced sharing settings. 
  • Then activate file and print sharing.

As you can notice, you will have to configure your printer sharing with a rather alternative method, because Macs and Linux computers can’t connect to homegroups, so they tend to use other handy feaures of Windows.

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  • Go to the Printers list in the Control Panel and right-click on the printer that you would like to share.
  • Then select the Printers Properties from the menu.
  • Once you do this, go to the Sharing tab and enable the sharing of your printer. Then you could enter a name for it.

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Access to a Shared Printer on Windows

  •  Click on the Network option of your Windows or File Explorer, in order to browse PCs on your local network.
  • Next, double-click on a Windows or Linux PC of the network, while sharing your selected printer. After this, you will see the shared printer in the PC’s window. If you double-click on the printer, you could add and configure it. You will then view the printer alongside with your local printers in the printing dialogs.

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  • Alternatively, you could go to the Devices and Printers panel and use the Add Printer dialog. Your computer will scan the local area for printers. Once it finds your desired printer, you can add and configure it.

NOTE: In case the shared printer comes from a Mac, you will need to install Apple’s Bonjour Print Services for Windows and use its Wizard app to add the printing device on your Windows.

Share a Printer on Mac OS X

In Mac’s operating system you will have to use Apple’s Bonjour protocol, instead of the Windows standard sharing system. It is intergrated in your Mac. This kind of printer requires from Windows users to install an additional software to access it. On the other hand, Linux users won’t have to do anything, because the operating system works automatically with Bonjour.

  • In the Apple menu click on System Preferences and then press Printers and Scanners. 
  • Choose the printer that you want to share and check the Share this printer on the network box.

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  • Click on the Sharing Preferences and make sure that you have activated the Printer sharing service.

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Access a Shared Printer on Mac OS X

  • Click on the + button from the bottom left side of the Printers and Scanners panel and choose the Add Printer or Scanner option.
  • You can use the Print dialog of an application to add a printer too. You could simply click on the printer;s box and press Add Printer to access the dialog.

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  • Click on the icon of Windows and select the appropriate workgroup. Then select the printer you want to share and add it on your Windows. When the process is over, the printer will appear as a local printer.

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NOTE: You could found automatically printers, which have been shared from Linux PCs. These printers will then display as options on your Print dialog.

Share a Printer on Linux

Although we used Ubuntu 14.04 for the operation, you should not expect that the process will be different in other distributions.

  • Click the gear icon on the top bar to open the System Settings window.
  • Click the Printers icon. Once you do it, you will view all the printers you have added in the list.
  • On the upper right side of the screen select the Server menu and click on the Server settings option.

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  • Check the Publish shared printers connected to this system box, so that you activate the network sharing of the connected printers.

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  • Right-click on the desired printer from the list and press the Properties option. Next, click on Policies to make sure that the Shared box is checked.

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Access a Shared Printer on Linux

  • Once again, open the System Settings window and click the Printers icon.
  • Press the Add button, so you add a new printer in the system.

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  • Expand the Network printer section on the left side of the window and choose the Windows Printer via SAMBA option.
  • Press the Browse button and you will navigate through the network printers, which are connected to various PCs on the network.
  • Add the desired printer on your computer and configure it. It will then appear as a standard printer in your Print dialogs of your Linux apps.

NOTE: Ubuntu will immediately detect printers that are shared from Macs by using the Bonjour. These printers will be added automatically.

That’s it! As you can see the sharing method of wired printers is quite complex in all operating systems. Therefore, you should be careful, when trying to share a printer with other PCs. However, if you own a modern wireless printer, you do not have to go through such operations, because these kinds of printers have Wifi by default. As a result, they make themselves available for any type of device.