How to Find a Shared Printer on Your Network ?

Finding and connecting to a shared printer on your office or home network can save time and make printing more convenient. This guide covers locating available shared printers in Windows, Mac OS, and Linux operating systems.

How to Find a Shared Printer on Your Network ?

What Is a Shared Printer?

A shared printer refers to a printer that is connected to one computer on a network, but is available for other computers on the same network to access. The computer that the printer is directly attached to acts as the host, while the other computers are clients that send print jobs to the shared printer over the local network.

Sharing printers on a network eliminates the need for each computer to have its own dedicated printer. It saves money and desk space by allowing multiple users to leverage a single high-quality printer. Shared network printers facilitate printing documents, photos, web pages and more from whichever computer you happen to be using.

Benefits of Using Shared Printers

Here are some of the advantages of using a printer shared over a local network:

  • Cost savings – Sharing one printer is cheaper than purchasing separate printers for every computer.
  • Convenience – Print from any computer on the network without transferring files.
  • Accessibility – Allows printer access to laptops and devices without a direct USB connection.
  • Centralized management – Printer settings, drivers, maintenance, and troubleshooting can be managed on the host computer.
  • Resource efficiency – Better utilization of existing printer hardware on the network.

How to Find Shared Printers on Windows

Windows makes it easy to discover and connect to shared printers on your local network. Here is the step-by-step process:

Browse Available Printers

  1. Open Settings and go to Devices > Printers & scanners.
  2. Click “Add a printer or scanner”.
  3. Click “The printer that I want isn’t listed”.
  4. Select “Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer”.
  5. In the list of available printers, select the shared printer and click “Add device”.

Windows will automatically install the correct driver for the shared printer from the device host computer.

Search for Printer by Location or Name

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above.
  2. Click “Search by printer location or name”.
  3. For the location, enter the IP address or computer name that is hosting the shared printer then click Next.
    • Or enter part of the printer name to search.
  4. Select the shared printer when displayed and click Next, then finish adding device.

Once installed, the shared network printer will show up alongside your other installed printers for printing from any application.

How to Find Shared Printers on Mac

Here are instructions for browsing, adding and connecting to shared printers on a Mac:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Printers & Scanners.
  2. Click the + icon below the printer list to add a new printer.
  3. Select the default option “Add Printer or Scanner”.
  4. Click the “Default” drop down and select “Bonjour” or “IP” discovery modes.
  5. Locate and select the shared printer from the network list.
  6. Confirm the print queue name and select desired options.
  7. Click “Add” to install the shared printer.

Any installed network printers will now be available from the print dialog window of all applications.

How to Find Shared Printers on Linux

The process varies across different Linux distributions, but here is a general guide to adding shared network printers on Linux:

  1. Open terminal and run lpinfo -v to list available printers.
  2. Identify the network shared printer from the displayed list. Take note of its queue name, URI, and model name.
  3. Run lpadmin -p [queue name] -E -v [URI] -m [model] to add the printer.
  4. For example: lpadmin -p officeprinter -E -v ipp://officeprintserver/printers/officeprinter -m drv:///Sample.ppd
  5. Set the printer as default if desired: lpoptions -d [queue name]
  6. The shared printer is now installed and accessible from applications.

Consult distribution-specific documentation for further details on exposing shared printers from another Linux system, Windows or Mac.

Troubleshooting Shared Printer Issues

Try these troubleshooting steps if you are having issues finding or connecting to a shared network printer:

  • Verify host computer has sharing enabled – Check that printer sharing is enabled on the host computer in services and network settings.
  • Confirm host firewall is not blocking – Ensure host firewall has exception for printer sharing port (UDP 5353).
  • Check network connectivity – Shared printer may not be discoverable due to network problems. Test connectivity by pinging host.
  • Reboot devices and router – Power cycle the printer, host computer, your computer, and network router to refresh connections.
  • Install manually if auto-discovery fails – Use hostname/IP address to directly add undetected printer queues.
  • Update printer and computer drivers – Old drivers can prevent proper printer operation and discovery.
  • Change printer port settings if receiving job timeout errors and pages fail to print.

Still struggling to access the shared printer? Check with your administrator or router settings.

Tips for Printer Sharing

Follow these tips for successfully setting up and sharing a network printer:

  • Connect printer directly to a wired network port for best reliability versus wireless.
  • Sharing works between Windows, Mac & Linux but install matching drivers.
  • Windows offers granular network permissions for printer access control.
  • Macs can share USB printers connected with SharePrinter app.
  • Check the manual for printer maximum simultaneous jobs.
  • Set page timeouts to prevent job getting stuck.
  • Enable SNMP for remote printer monitoring.
  • UPnP simplifies discovery but has security concerns.
  • Install printer on non-mobile device, not laptops which may sleep or disconnect from network.
  • Position WiFi routers near printer and use 5 Ghz band for performance.
  • Label printer queues consistently across devices for easy identification.

Key Takeaways of Finding Network Printers

  • Shared printers on local networks allow multiple computers to access a single printer.
  • Windows, Mac, and Linux provide native options for finding and adding shared printers.
  • Make sure sharing and discovery protocols are enabled on the printer host computer.
  • Fix connectivity and firewall issues if having trouble finding available printers.
  • Set up print queues and drivers consistently to avoid user confusion.
  • Follow tips like using wired connections for optimal printer sharing reliability.


Accessing a shared printer can save costs while enabling convenient printing capabilities from all devices on a home or office network. Learning how to properly find and install shared network printers is key to unlocking the benefits of printer sharing. Whether using Windows, Mac or Linux, utilize the built-in tools to locate available printers, troubleshoot discovery issues and optimize the printing experience for a seamless cross-platform printing workflow.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shared Printers

  1. What protocols and ports should be open for printer sharing?
    Most printers use SNMP (UDP port 161), printing ports (TCP 631, 9100), and some discovery protocols like Bonjour (UDP 5353). Windows may also utilize SMB (TCP 445).
  2. How do I find the IP address of my printer to connect directly?
    You can check the printer web interface, OS settings, network config report page, or use an IP scanner tool to locate your printer IP on the network.
  3. Does a shared USB printer need to stay powered on?
    Yes, the host computer for a shared USB printer needs to stay powered on in order to provide network access to the printer.
  4. What happens when multiple people print jobs simultaneously?
    The print queue will handle job scheduling automatically. Most printers have memory to handle concurrent jobs in progress.
  5. Can I wirelessly connect my printer instead of using Ethernet?
    Wireless printing is convenient but more prone to connectivity problems. For best uptime stick to wired Ethernet if possible.
  6. Why does my shared printer work sometimes but go offline?
    Frequent disconnects of shared printers usually stem from WiFi problems, drivers, sleep settings or the printer host PC shutting down/sleeping.
  7. Do all applications have to be closed while installing a shared printer?
    No, applications don’t have to be closed but may need restarting before recognizing a newly added shared printer.
  8. How do I check if my network has a print server?
    Ask the network admin. Print servers show up in network scans or device listings as shared printer queues.
  9. Can I share a wireless printer from my laptop?
    Technically yes, but your laptop would need to stay powered on and not sleep. Better to use a wired desktop PC as the host.
  10. Where should I position my wireless router relative to my printer?
    Ideally the router should be in close proximity to the printer for best signal strength. Use 5 Ghz WiFi band if available.
  11. How do I restrict printer access to specific network users?
    On Windows, set permissions on the printer share. Macs and Linux printers can also use firewall rules for access restrictions.
  12. What utility can I use to remotely monitor my shared printer?
    Enable SNMP on the device to allow remote monitoring via many available SNMP tracking software options.
  13. Why do documents sometimes fail to print to the shared printer?
    Jobs failing can indicate connectivity problems between devices, incompatible drivers, bad configurations or hardware issues of the printer.
  14. Does sharing extend the printer wireless range?
    No, it works within the existing wireless range of that printer hardware. A wireless bridge device could help expand range.
  15. How can I prioritize printing based on application or document types?
    Use the priority queuing options of the printer driver, print server software, or configure rules on the device itself if supported.
  16. How do I know if a printer on my network is shared?
    Shared printers will explicitly list themselves as available to the network/other computers in printer searches. The name may indicate it is shared.
  17. Can multiple operating systems share a printer seamlessly?
    Yes, as long as the printer drivers match across Windows, Mac and Linux. Some print options may differ slightly.
  18. What is AirPrint? Do I need it for wireless printer sharing?
    AirPrint is Apple’s printer sharing protocol. You only need AirPrint if sharing a USB printer wirelessly from a Mac or iOS device.

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