Getting Windows XP under Parallels printing to a Mac network printer

Windows printer iconSo here’s today’s little teaser. My wife runs Windows XP under Parallels on her iMac, and she wants to print to the printer that’s connected to my iMac. How’s it done? The obvious thing would be to share the printer on my iMac (System Prefs > Sharing > Services > Printer Sharing, followed by System Prefs > Print & Fax > Sharing > Share these printers with other computers > [check the box next to the printer]), but of course that would be too easy, so it doesn’t work. In Windows XP I tried Start > Printers and Faxes > File > Add Printer > Next > Network printer > Next > Browse for a printer > Next (phew!) but, although the iMac’s name appears in the list, it shows no printers attached. Sodding thing.

After much mucking about trying to get the ever-stubborn Windows XP to recognize the printer, I came up with a nice bit of lateral thinking. What about Bonjour for Windows? Bonjour (previously known as Rendezvous) is the Mac’s zero-config system allowing auto-discovery of stuff on a network, such as computers, printers and routers – and, handily, they make a Windows version, too. It’ll never work, surely…!

Seriously, it was as simple as:

  • Download the EXE
  • Double-click said EXE to open it in Windows XP (in Parallels)
  • Run the setup (no reboot required!)
  • Double-click Bonjour Printer Wizard on the desktop
  • Click Next
  • There’s my printer! Click it, then click Next twice followed by Finish
  • Boom!, as Steve Jobs would say – the printer is installed, and usable under Windows XP.

Why can’t Windows always be as straightforward as that? 😉

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15 Responses to “Getting Windows XP under Parallels printing to a Mac network printer”

  1. Si Says:

    Good lord, who’d have thunk it?!

    si xx

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Hi there.. OMG Thanks so much for this tip! I just got my mom a macbook because we work together (she owns the business) and she JUST bought a new HP computer that literally is crashing every day and its only 6 months old… Well, thats my computer at work now.. BUT my mom needed a new laptop. i told her that i would NOT allow her to buy a PC and that she HAD to get a mac with parallels. PARALLELS IS AWESOME!! Its super easy to use and kinda fun playing around in it.

    But i was having the same issue as you.. PRINTING without having to constantly printer sources.

    I am trying to get the networking to work, and it hasnt. I did everything you did.. No go. i am going to run and download bonjour now.. I HOPE its as easy for me as it was for you.. The one thing i KNOW that is going to cause an issue is that the server computer is running Vista.. FREAKING VISTA

  3. Matt Says:

    @Lindsay: no problem, hope it works on Vista!

  4. Vmama Says:

    I tried these steps and the printer was recognized by XP. However, when I send actual print jobs, the jobs just sit in the printer queue with an error “Error printing document.” It did not have any details so I am stuck right now. Can’t print anything from the Windows OS, so I just drag the document to Mac OS, then print from that environment.

    Any other tips to help me out? Thanks in advance.


  5. Bernhard Says:

    great tip! thanks

  6. Jeff Says:

    I’m having the same problem as Vmama was having. Anybody have any good ideas?

  7. Matt Says:

    @Vmama and @Jeff: Just a random thought – could it be a firewall issue? Either Windows firewall or the Mac firewall blocking the Bonjour port(s).

  8. Aaron Says:

    Great tip – worked fine for me.

  9. Matt Says:

    @Aaron: Glad it worked for you! Actually I tried this Bonjour trick again recently under VMware Fusion and it didn’t work. 🙁 It would say it had printed, but nothing would actually print! In the end I had to “connect” the printer directly to the Windows VM via USB. Ah well!

  10. Tom Says:

    I had this same problem and found a very easy solution. I just stuck a bluetooth dongle in my HP office jet printer and erased all printers on my IMAC os 10 side. Then have the imac find the bluetooth printer. After it is found then lock the printer preference box down so no changes can be made.Then hook the usb cable up to the imac and tell it to go and be used on the windows side.

  11. Murray Says:

    I have tried for months to get printing out of xp programs and now finally after your suggested quick fix everything works.Thanks so much for the advice.

  12. Matt Says:

    @Tom: Interesting solution, thanks for posting!

    @Murray: No problem – glad it helped!

  13. Bart Says:

    This did not work for me at first until I realized (DOH!) that I did not have Printer Sharing turned on in my Mac OS. Once I turned this on and shared the printer, the printer immediately popped up in the (Windows) Bonjour setup window.

    Thanks so much for the tip!!

  14. Matt Says:

    @Bart: Glad it worked in the end 🙂

  15. Donald Leslie Says:

    Thanks for this. My problem is that with parallels 6 I can print OK in windows XP using the “Use Mac Printer” feature EXCEPT on this web-based proprietary software used by one of my clients which just prints out gobbledygook. Using this procedure I could get it to work when the computer was physically connected to the printer via a usb cable. It wouldn’t detect anything when the printer was connected to a network router via ethernet or airport express wirelessly. I’ve got it connected to one of the imacs by a usb cable and I can now print everything from that machine and everything bar the weird program from the other machines on the network. So a big step forward but frustrating not to be able to network it properly.