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Mac OS X: Cannot locate a shared Windows printer

In Mac OS X 10.3 and later, Printer Setup Utility allows you to add a printer that's being shared by a Microsoft Windows PC. However, Printer Setup Utility may not see some shared Windows printers. Here are some reasons why and what you can do about it.

The printer name contains more than 12 characters

Only printer share names that contain 12 characters or less will be displayed in Printer Setup Utility when browsing for a Windows printer. If you need to use a printer with a longer share name, either shorten the share name on the computer that's sharing the printer, or add the printer manually using the steps found in this article

Incorrect Windows username or password when adding a Windows printer

Printer Setup Utility will prompt you for a username and password when adding a shared Windows printer. These fields can be left blank if the computer sharing the printer is set up to allow guest users to see and print to the shared printer.

If the computer that's sharing the printer is set up so that only specific users can see the printer, the printer list will be blank if the wrong user (or no user) is entered. Contact the administrator of the computer sharing the printer to determine what username and password to use. Please note that the steps in this article will not work if you are not using a correct username and password.

The computer sharing the printer is on a different subnet

Printers shared by Windows PCs that are on a different subnet than your Mac will not be listed. You can manually add printers shared by a Windows computer on another subnet using the steps in this article. Be sure to use the computer's IP address—not the computer's workgroup and name when adding the printer manually.

The shared printer's comment contains special characters

If one of the shared Windows printers has a Return character (which isn't displayed) at the end of its comment (description), any printers that should appear after it will not be displayed.

To resolve this, go to the computer that's sharing the printer and remove any Return characters (or other special characters) from the printer's comment. Please note that the steps provided in this article, will not work until you remove these characters.

Tip: Printer Setup Utility lists available printers alphabetically, but Windows may not list the printer order in the same way. This means that the printer with the special character in its comment may not be the last printer listed in Windows, as it's listed in Printer Setup Utility.

How to manually add a Windows shared printer

See Mac OS X: How to manually add a Windows shared printer.

Last Modified: Oct 8, 2008
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  • Last Modified: Oct 8, 2008
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