How Can Two Computers Share a Non-Network Printer?

By Alan Sembera

Many businesses use one printer for all computers.
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When your computers aren't connected by a network, you can still configure them to use the same printer using a good-old-fashioned switch box. Modern USB sharing switches no longer resemble the bulky boxes of the past, and if you buy an automatic switch, you can tuck it away behind a desk and forget it's even there. Both computers must be within 15 feet of the switch; otherwise, the signals won't carry over the USB cables.

Obtain a USB two-port sharing switch. You can purchase these switches online or at your local electronics store. Many USB switches require you to push a button to switch between computers, but for a few extra dollars you can buy an auto-sharing switch that automatically detects incoming print jobs from either computer. As of May 2013, an auto-sharing switch with cables costs around $20.

Plug the printer's USB cable directly into the first computer and install the printer drivers. Repeat the process on the second computer.

Plug the printer's USB cable into the switch using the outlet marked for the printer.

Attach the two computers to the switch using the USB cables that came with the switch. If the cables aren't long enough, you can replace them with different USB cables, as long as neither cable exceeds 15 feet in length.

Install the software that came with the switch on each of the two computers. Once you install the software, you will be able to print from either computer. Some switches don't support simultaneous print jobs from both computers, while other switches include a print buffer that allows you to send a print job at any time.