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Ask Max: Sharing Printers with Macs and PCs

Asked on 09/12/2007:

Currently I have 3 printers (HP 1600 laser jet, HP 1200 Laser jet and Canon MP500). How can I network these printers between an Apple desktop, a MacBook, and an HP laptop and desktop? Do I need some kind of device to connect them?


Although there are several devices that will share printers on a network, my current favorite is the New AirPort Extreme base station. Not only will it share printers and hard drives, it will also act as a gigabit router.

Apple Airport Extreme Station

You can connect many printers to the base station's USB port via a USB hub and have them all simultaneously shared. The complication will come from the HP Color LaserJet 1600 printer. It is not Mac compatible and probably won't work on the base station. That printer may need to be connected to your HP desktop and shared from the Windows printer-sharing feature. It may turn out that the LJ1600 will one day be supported--you might even find that it does work when connected to the base station now, but there is no guarantee.

Here is a link to printers that have been tested to work with Apple's wireless printer sharing equipment:
Click Here for details.

It is not an official list, but can be helpful. If you already have an investment in good networking equipment then the base station may not be the best solution because of the expense added to your network. In that case, you can always use the OS X printer-sharing feature to share the other two printers. The option is in the System Preferences in the Sharing section. It is limited, but would work as a low cost option.

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