Network Printing From A Windows Vista Computer

Long ago, a printer would be a device, attached directly to your computer. The earliest computers called a printer a "Line Printer", and let you connect your printer to a physical post on your computer. Some computers might have up to 3 physical ports - labeled "Line Printer 1", "Line Printer 2", or "Line Printer 3", abbreviated as "LPT1", "LPT2", or "LPT3".

Then network printing was made possible. You could setup a printer, locally attached to your computer on LPT1, and share it with your neighbours. You had YourComputer, and you could designate your printer to be shared as YourPrinter1. Similarly, your neighbour might have TheirComputer, and a printer shared as TheirPrinter1. If you wanted a second printer to use occasionally, you could setup your programs to print to LPT2 on your computer. You could redirect your LPT2 to print to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1".

Then somebody else started writing programs to print directly to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1", without involving "LPTn".

Now, accessing either a directly attached printer ("LPT1"), a network attached printer redirected (LPT2 redirected to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1"), or a directly networked printer ("\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1") involves specific code in the printer drivers, both in your computer (the client), and in the other computer (the server).

None of these options are magical, and not all printers will have drivers that will support all 3 ways of using the printer. Some drivers will claim to support all 3, but depending upon how your computer, and your neighbours computer is setup, one may work better than another. That's reality.

It appears that not all printer drivers, written for Windows Vista, support the old LPTn standard. If you can't get your network printer to work as "LPTn" redirected to "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1", try bypassing the LPTn redirection.

  1. Install the Vista printer driver on your Windows Vista computer.
  2. During installation, you'll be prompted to connect the printer to your computer. Choose the option to proceed with installation without connecting the printer.
  3. After installation completes, open the Printers wizard from the Windows Vista Control Panel.
  4. Right click on the entry for the new printer, and choose Properties.
  5. Go to the Ports tab.
  6. Click Add Port, select Local Port, then click New Port.
  7. For the port name, enter the network path and share name of your printer (ie "\\TheirComputer\TheirPrinter1").
  8. Click OK, and verify that the new port is selected.
  9. Click OK to close the printer properties.

(Update 10/30): If you're experiencing these, and similar problems with printing, try the Vista Compatibility, Performance, and Reliability Comprehensive Update.

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spicey1nga said...

Thank so much for your help! I was about to give up on connecting my laptop to my printer!!!

Jon-Scott said...

Thanks! I'd been working on this problem forever until I found your post. My printer is now working great.

Chris5214 said...

Just wanted to say THANK YOU so much. I was pulling out what little hair I have left trying to get this printer on xp to print from the new laptop though the network. You made this so much easyer. Thanks again :)

Unknown said...

At last it's working - the new port did it. Thank you for doing what MS should have.

Smiley72 said...

Thank you so much. My network printer was working (slow but working) until a couple of days ago when it requested a driver update wich I tried to no avail. I came upon your post and tried the local port thing... worked perfectly. Moreover, the performance trouble is now gone... Magic. Thanks again! :o)

Joe said...

Great work on figuring that one out.It seems simple now that I did it, but I have been frustrated by not being able to print from my new Vista laptop for about 2 months already!


Andy said...

Thanks a bunch! My install CD came with a network printer driver option, but I couldn't get it to work until I changed the port like you suggested!

fdsailor said...

I am having a related problem, although, judging from other web posts a tougher one - any help would be appreciated - here goes...

Configuariton: Vista 64, USR5461, print server connected to a Borther 5050.

Other information: Two other XP computers can connect to this print server and it works great.

Details: Installed network printer, using the full network name listed on the router web page ( Also downloaded latest printer driver for the Brother printer.

After printer configuration, test page will not print. Then edit the Port Settings / Raw Settings: port number, set to 1631 (from 9090, I think). Even disable the firewalls on Vista - still no luck.

Question: what am I missing? Has anyone solved this problem? So far spent hours on this - beginning to believe the Mac commercial, i.e. "steps 1 - 23" :-)