Windows 7 has made sharing files and folders on a network even easier with its HomeGroups function. However, if you think your Vista and XP PCs can't share the same network, you'd be wrong. We show you how to get all your PCs to play nicely on the network, including Macs.
Use a Windows 7 printer from XP or Vista
If you'd rather install a printer on the Windows 7 system, you can still connect from XP and Vista. Here's how.
In Windows XP, open the Printers and Faxes Control Panel. Choose File, Add Printer, and click Next. Click the button to add a network printer, and click Next.
Click the Connect to this printer button, and type the path to the network printer.
For example, my PC with the printer is named 'SLOTH', and the printer is called 'EPSON_R1800', so the path I typed was \\SLOTH\EPSON_R1800.
If you're unsure of your path, open a new window on the Windows 7 PC, and open the Network menu on the left.
Browse to your PC name, and locate the printer there to identify the PC and printer name. On the Windows XP system, click Next.
Enter your username and password for the Windows 7 PC. Leave the box for Remember my password checked if you want to automatically connect in the future. Click OK.
Click Yes to the warning that appears. If the printer driver doesn't automatically download, try to manually identify or install it, as mentioned in the previous section.
Choose if you want to use this as the default printer, click Next, and press Finish. Now, when you print a document, use the Name drop-down menu to pick the network printer.
In Vista, open the Printers control panel, and double-click Add Printer. Pick the second option to add a network printer, and click Next. Vista should find the printer. Select it, and click Next.
If presented with a dialog box that says that you're missing the printer drivers, click OK, and browse to the driver files. If you're still having problems, install the printer drivers first, before trying to set up the network printer.
Otherwise, choose if you want to set the new printer as your default, and click then Next and Finish.
Share a Windows 7 printer with Mac OS X
Mac OS X can reach a shared Windows 7 printer just as a PC can.
Thanks to some new networking architecture in Windows 7, I had problems connecting a Mac with OS X 10.6.2 using the default SMB protocol, but here's how to use the LPD (Line Printer Daemon) standard to share a printer.
On the Windows 7 PC, go to the Programs control panel, and pick Turn Windows features on or off.
Double-click Print and Document Services, and activate LPD Print Service. Click OK.
On the OS X Mac, open the Print & Fax System Preference. Click the plus icon to add a new printer.
Right-click the toolbar, and pick Customise Toolbar. Then drag the Advanced button up into the toolbar and click Done.
Click Advanced, and pick LDB/LPR Host or Printer as the Type. Enter the path with your PC name and printer name.
My Windows 7 PC is called ‘SLOTH', and the printer is ‘EPSON_R1800', so my path is lpd://SLOTH/EPSON_R1800.
Click Select Printer Software in the Print Choosing pop-up menu, and select your printer in the list. Click OK and Add.
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