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Share Printer From Win x86 PC to Win x64 PC

posted Jan 28, 2011, 9:46 AM by Jeremy Walker
Since 64 bit computing became popular by the advent of Windows 7, I've been searching for a way to share printers from Windows XP and Server 2003 32 bit to Windows 7 and Vista 64 bit computers. Most of us tech-people know how painful it's been trying to do such a thing. Now, either I've been blind or Microsoft has been hiding it from us, but after a year or so of searching I finally found the solution on Microsoft's help forums. And it's so easy! Here's how:

When you're browsing the remote computer's list of shared printers, simply right-click the window then click Server Properties at the bottom of the context menu. A Server Properties window will appear with the drivers, ports, and printer settings of the remote host. Click the Drivers tab then add the 64 bit driver for the printer that you want to connect to. Then close the window and connect to the shared printer (right-click the printer icon then click connect). Ta-da!

...at least thats how its supposed to work. In most cases, when you attempt to connect to the printer, you get the same exact rhetoric that you saw when you tried to connect without the 64 bit drivers; the driver failed to install. Here's why:

Printer manufacturers have a way of producing inconsistently named drivers for their devices. Hello, imperfect world! When you added the 64 bit driver, more-than-likely the name of the 64 bit printer driver was at least slightly different than the 32 bit driver. i.e. 'HP Officejet 6800 Series PCL' is different than 'HP OfficeJet 6800 Series PCL'. Look carefully at the two examples and you'll see that the 'J' in 'OfficeJet' is different. Yes, even spaces and case make a difference. How do you fix the name of the printer driver? Here's how:

Find the INF file for installing the 64 bit printer driver and open it in notepad. Find the line where the name of the printer is given (it should be within a few lines from the top). Replace that with the name of the 32 bit printer driver in the Server Properties window, letter for letter, case for case, and space for space and save the INF file. Then remove the previous 64 bit printer driver (in the server Properties window) and re-add the newly edited one. Now connect to the printer again. That should do it!

Notes
  • It does not matter if the protocol (PCL or PS) of the 64 bit driver doesn't match the 32 bit driver on the remote computer. But it's a good practice to keep the name of the drivers consistent with the protocol.

  • If the driver used to operate the shared printer is not signed it will prompt you for permission to install it. Be sure you are installing a driver from a trusted source, i.e. the manufacturer.

  • If you don't have a bare driver package from the manufacturer or you can't locate the right INF file to edit, install the printer on the 64 bit computer per instructions from the manufacturer then connect to the printer shared from the 32 bit host. Windows should use the local 64 bit driver.
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