Using a Shared Printer
Once you have enabled the sharing of a printer, you can add that printer to other PCs on the network so you can print from it. Here's how to do it in Windows Vista:
1. Open the Printers folder from the Control Panel.
2. Click the Add a printer button on the toolbar.
3. Select the Add a network, wireless, or Bluetooth printer button. It will begin searching for any shared printers on the network.
4. Select the printer and click Next. If you don't see the printer you want, click the appropriate button to manually find it.
5. Enter your desired name for the new printer.
6. If you don't want the printer to be the default one selected/used when printing from the PC, uncheck the appropriate option.
7. Click Next. A window should appear indicating the printer was successfully added.
8. To ensure its setup correctly click Print a test page.
9. Click Finish.
If you're unable to find the shared printer during the setup, you may want to ensure that printer sharing isn't disabled on the PC hosting the printer. You can check this by opening the Network and Sharing Center and scrolling to the appropriate entry on the status light area
Enabling Password Protection
In Windows Vista you can enable password protection for your shared folders. When enabled, however, your shared resources aren't shared with others on the network. The shared resources will only be available to other user accounts on the same PC, and of course access is only given by entering the password.
1. Right-click on the network status icon in the system tray and select Network and Sharing Center. The Network and Sharing Center pops up.
2. Scroll down to the green and/or gray status lights and click the arrow on the right of Password protected sharing. The settings will appear, as seen in Figure 3.
3. Select Turn on password-protected sharing and click Apply.
Viewing All Your Shared Folders
Unlike Windows XP, Vista allows you to easily and quickly see all the folders you're sharing. It's very easy to forget which folders you've shared over time, and as a result this helpful feature enables you to always know exactly what is being shared and to whom. This enables you to better protect your data and privacy, which is particularly important for those who often use un-trusted networks such as Wi-Fi hotspots.
Here's how to view the lists of shared files and folders:
1. Right-click on the network status icon in the system tray and select Network and Sharing Center.
2. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the Network and Sharing Center.
3. Click on the links, as pointed out by the red arrow in figure 4, to view the files and folders you are sharing.
It's a good idea to periodically check your shared folders, their permission settings, and their contents to make sure you don't unintentionally share something that's private or sensitive.
Stay Tuned for more on networking using Windows Vista, including our Introduction to Wi-Fi Networking with Windows Vista as well as tips for Connecting to Wi-Fi Networks using Windows Vista.
Eric Geier is the founder and president of Sky-Nets, Ltd., which operates a Wi-Fi hotspot network serving the general aviation community. He has also been a computing and wireless networking author and consultant for several years. One of Eric's latest books is Wi-Fi Hotspots: Setting up Public Wireless Internet Access, published by Cisco Press.
This article was first published on Wi-Fi Planet.