Print to Mac-connected printers from Windows

If you need to print to a printer that’s connected to your Mac from Windows—either a dedicated PC or a virtual machine running under VMware Fusion or Parallels—there are many solutions for doing so. Dan Frakes wrote about one of the simplest, using Apple’s Bonjour to print to Bonjour-capable printers. But what if you don’t have a Bonjour-capable printer? It turns out that you can still use Bonjour to get the job done; you just need to combine it with one additional Apple technology—printer sharing.

To print to your Mac-connected USB printer from Windows, here’s all you need to do:
  1. Make sure your printer works as expected in OS X.
  2. Launch System Preferences and go to the Sharing pane. On the Sharing pane, check the box for Printer Sharing, and (if you have more than one locally-connected printer) check the box for the specific printer you’d like to share.
  3. Switch to your virtual or real Windows machine, and download and install Bonjour for Windows. If you need more help with the installation, Dan’s linked article above has more details.
  4. After installing Bonjour, you’ll find a new Bonjour Printer Wizard on your Windows desktop. Launch it, then click Next to get to the Browse for Bonjour Printers screen.
  5. In the Shared Printers section of this screen, you should see your shared Mac-connected printer. Select it, then click Next.
  6. On the Install Bonjour Printer screen, you’ll probably see the Manufacturer as Generic and the Model as either Generic/PostScript or Generic/PCL. Choose Generic/PostScript first—if that doesn’t work, you can try again with PCL later. If you want this to be your default printer, check that box, then click Next.
  7. Click Finish; you’re done.

In my testing, this worked perfectly from both Windows Vista and XP Pro in Parallels and VMware Fusion. It also worked when booted into Windows XP Pro via Boot Camp, so it should work fine on a “real” PC as well. Keep in mind that you won’t get the same full-featured Print dialog that you’d get if you had the printer’s native print driver installed. However, I had no trouble printing either text or images from Windows—though clearly, if I had an image file that I needed to print with all the bells and whistles, I’d move it over to my Mac first and use the native print driver for my photo printer. But for basic output, this process works well, and it works with any printer that works with your Mac.

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