Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Vista and the "Windows cannot connect to the printer" error message

Several months ago I purchased a new PC with Windows Vista Home Premium. I purchased it mostly to be able to make use of the parental control features of Vista and I'm pretty happy with it from that point of view.

There has been one nagging sticking point however. I couldn't get the Vista system to connect to a printer shared from another computer running Windows XP. From the Printer control panel I selected "Add Printer", clicked on "Add a Network Computer" and then choose the shared printer from the list. This resulted in a "Windows cannot connect to the printer. Access is denied" error message. In printing emergencies I was able to save the documents to the XP systems "Shared Documents" folders and then print it from the XP system but that is less than an ideal solution.

Fortunately, I've found a solution. Rather than choosing "Add a Network Computer", select "Add a local computer". Then click on "Create a new port" and click "Next". In the dialog box that appears enter \\ComputerName\PrinterName where computer name is the name of the computer sharing the printer and printer name is the shared name of the printer. (I found these instructions here).

Note however this won't work if you've already browsed the computer in Explorer to find out the printer name. Apparently, Vista will already create a port with that name and so the steps above will fail. So, be sure to shared the printer from the remote computer and then remember the name so you can type it in.

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