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Printer sharing is the process of allowing multiple computers and devices connected to the same network to access one or more printers. Each node or device on the network can print to any shared printer and, to some extent, make changes to the printer settings, depending on the permissions set by the administrator for each user.
If a printer is attached to a computer that supports printer sharing, the computer can share that printer with other computers on the same network. It does not matter whether the shared printer is old or new, as long as it is properly installed in one computer it can be shared by that computer. The sharing is facilitated by the OS, which handles the communication between computers and devices within the network and the printer itself. When a print request is sent from a networked computer, this is received by the computer where the shared printer is attached; this host computer initializes the printer and then sends the print job to it. Unfortunately, retrieval of the actual printouts still must be done manually by the initiator of the print job.
In Windows 7 and 8, the printer sharing function can be activated in the Control Panel as follows: click on the Network and Sharing Center icon and then click "Change advanced sharing settings"; under "File and printer sharing", select the "Turn on file and printer sharing" radio button.