How to Share Printers across Your Mac Network

You can share a printer with others on your local network, using Lion’s super-easy Bonjour network sharing feature. (Here, you’re going to share a printer that’s connected directly to your MacBook, like a portable photo printer.)

If you decide to share your printers, don’t be surprised if Mac OS X seems to slow down slightly from time to time. This is because of the processing time necessary for your MacBook to store queued documents from other computers. The hard drive activity on your laptop is likely to significantly increase as well.

Once again, turn to System Preferences! Click the Sharing icon; then click the Printer Sharing check box to select it.

To share a printer, click the check box next to the desired printer and click the Add button to select which users will have access to the shared printer. (By default, a shared printer can be accessed by everyone.) To prevent someone from printing, click that user’s entry in the list and click the Delete button (look for the minus sign). Voilà! You’re the guru!

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What about your firewall? Perhaps you would worry if you were using that Other Operating System — which shall remain nameless here — but you’re using Lion, and everything is set automatically for you the moment you click the Printer Sharing check box!

Lion automatically opens the correct port in your firewall to allow printer sharing. (And yes, if you decide not to share your printers and you deselect the Printer Sharing check box later, Lion cleans up after you. It closes the port in your firewall for you.) Super-flippin’ sweet.

The printers that you specify are available to other computers within the same IP subnet. In other words, someone in your local network can use your printers, but no one outside your network has access.

If you haven’t already assigned a printer a descriptive name, click the desired printer from the list in the Print & Scan pane and then click the Options & Supplies button. Click the General button on the sheet that appears and enter a descriptive name in the Name text field. You can also identify that printer’s location in the Location text field. For example, in an office environment, add the room number to a shared printer name (as well as the Location field).

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