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Accessing a Shared Printer

Except for perhaps disk drives, the most commonly shared device on small networks is almost certainly the printer. This makes sense because almost everyone needs to print something sometime, and those print jobs vary: One day it's a letter to send to the laser printer, and the next it's a photo to send to the ink-jet. Of course, it's wasteful (and decidedly impractical) to attach both a laser printer and an ink-jet printer to every computer. It's just so much easier (and cheaper) to share one of each type of printer on the network so that everyone can use them.

To access a shared printer, you must connect to it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Open the network computer or print server that has the printer you want to use.
  2. Right-click the shared printer.
  3. Click Connect. If a Vista driver for the shared printer isn't already installed on your computer, Vista warns you that it must install the driver to use the shared printer.
  4. Click Install Driver. The User Account Control dialog box appears.
  5. Enter your UAC credentials to continue. Vista installs the printer driver.

You can also add a shared network printer using Vista's Add Printer Wizard. Follow these steps:

  1. Select Start, Control Panel to open the Control Panel window.
  2. Click the Printer link under the Hardware and Sound icon. Vista opens the Printers window.
  3. Click Add a Printer in the task pane to open the Add Printer Wizard.
  4. Click Add a Network, Wireless or Bluetooth Printer. Vista searches for shared printers on the network and then displays a list of the printer it found, as shown in Figure 8.10.
    Figure 8.10

    Figure 8.10 The Add Printer Wizard displays a list of the shared printers that it found on your network.

  5. Select the network printer you want to use.
  6. Click Next. If a Vista driver for the shared printer isn't already installed on your computer, Vista warns you that it must install the driver to use the shared printer.
  7. Click Install Driver. The User Account Control dialog box appears.
  8. Enter your UAC credentials to continue. Vista installs the printer driver.
  9. If you want to use the shared printer as your default printer, leave the Set as Default Printer check box activated and click Next.
  10. Click Finish.

After you connect to a shared printer, Vista adds it to the Printers window. The name of the icon you see takes the following general form:

PrinterName on ComputerName

Here, PrinterName is the name of the printer as given by its device driver, and ComputerName is the name of the computer or print server to which the printer is attached. For example, Figure 8.11 shows a connected shared printer that uses the following name:

HP LaserJet 5P/5MP PostScript on Paulspc
Figure 8.11

Figure 8.11 When you connect to a remote shared printer, Vista adds an icon for the printer to your Printers window.

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