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January 19, 2004

Sharing Mac Printers With Windows Users

p. One of the promised new features with Mac OS X Panther was the ability to both easily use printers shared from Windows and easily share printers to Windows. p. In my months of running Panther, I was never able to get Windows computers to print to the Canon S450 attached to my Mac. Errors showed up in the logs about format errors, but I never felt like pursuing it any farther. p. This afternoon, though, I had a hunch to the solution. In fact, it's the same solution Microsoft suggests for a completely unrelated problem. p. The key? In most cases, *don't use the correct printer driver*. This doesn't hold true for laser printers capable of PostScript. But for inkjets and the cheapo lasers that don't speak PostScript, this is key. p. So here's a step-by-step guide to getting printing working. This assumes Mac OS X 10.3 and Windows XP. h4. On the Macintosh # Add the printer to be shared, if it hasn't already been automatically detected. # Open System Preferences. # Select the Sharing pane. # Enable Windows Sharing by checking the box or clicking the Start button. # Enable Printer Sharing by checking the box or clicking the Start button. # Quit System Preferences. h4. On the Windows PC p. Although the Printers and Faxes control panel would seem the likely place to go next, it's completely the wrong place to go unless you hate yourself. Due to the way Microsoft has designed it, you don't have to opportunity to authenticate to password-protected shares (and as a result, it's impossible to browse to your Mac OS X printer). We're instead using the My Network Places view. # Open a My Network Places window. The icon to facilitate this may be on your desktop, in your Start menu, or floating in limbo. # Double-click the icon labeled "Mac OS X." If you haven't changed your Mac's name, this will be something like "Mac OS X (john-does-comp)". # Log in using the username (short name) and password of your Mac OS X account. # Right-click the printer you want to print to. # Select "Connect..." from the contextual menu. # Click Yes on the next two dialogs. # In the printer selection dialog, select Apple as the Manufacturer. # In the printer selection dialog, select Color LaserWriter as the model. # Click OK. h4. Caveats and Such p. The only things you lose are any special features your proper printer drivers may offer. If you've used Windows for any period of time, though, you're probably aware not all manufacturers' drivers work properly over the network anyway (so you may not be losing anything you wouldn't with Windows-to-Windows sharing). p. It may well be possible to control the printer remotely and print successfully by creating an additional printer on the Mac through CUPS, but I'm not hard up enough for my S450's minimal features to try it. If the possibility piques your interest, though, check out a Mac OS X Hints article on the subject.

Posted by Colin at January 19, 2004 3:50 PM

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I am having the same problem. I tried what you wrote, but got stuck at step 4 on the PC: when I connect to my Mac, I only see the stuff in my User folder--I don't see any printers. Any ideas on how I can find the printer? Thanks.

Posted by: Bruce Wiggins at February 10, 2004 10:35 PM

I'm also having the same problem.

And I'm also stuck at the same point. I get to an empty folder called 'Printers and Faxes on (Macname)'.

The printer is correctly installed on the Mac, and both Windows Sharing and Printer Sharing are started; so, I don't know why the printer would not show up.

Any ideas?


Posted by: Ed Fulmer at February 28, 2004 5:35 PM

Hi Guys,

I too had the same problem of not seeing any printers after following the above steps. I did three things on the Mac side to make it work. One, edit /etc/smb.conf and uncomment the first three lines in the [printers] section. Be sure to save the file. Two, in system preferences, Accounts, Select the user and click edit user. Enter the password and select the checkbox to allow logins from Windoze. Three, in system preferences, Sharing, stop and then restart both windoze file sharing and printer sharing. Now back on the windoze side you should be able to do a refresh of the workgroup that your Mac machine is in, and when you select that computer you should be prompted with a username/password dialog as described above.

Good Luck!

Posted by: Calvin at March 4, 2004 2:31 PM


Thanks for the suggestions, but 1) I couldn't find the file /etc/smb.conf anywhere on my Mac, and 2) in the Accounts dialog, there is no option to "edit user", so I can't find the checkbox to allow logins from Windoze (although I have checked "Windows sharing" in )... I am running 10.3.2, so maybe you have a different version? Anyway, I still can't find the printer. Any ideas would be mucho appreciated.


Posted by: Bruce Wiggins at March 14, 2004 9:46 PM

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