[Update: Got Windows 8 or RT? Mark Allibone has published an update on how to do this at his blog!]
Want to print from your Windows 7 PC to a USB printer connected to Apple’s Airport Express? Well, you can do what Apple says:
- Install Apple’s Bonjour for Windows
- Run the Bonjour Printing Wizard, answering its questions one by one
And that works. At least it did for me. For some definition of “works”:
- It showed the correct printer, but selected a driver for a different printer (that didn’t work at all)
- It was easy to switch to the right driver, which worked
- But it would only print black-and-white to my color laser printer
- And would only print one job. Subsequent print jobs from the same or any other PC or Mac did nothing until you turned the printer off and back on.
Or, you could do what ended up working for me. The key points of my solution are:
- Do not install any Apple software on your Windows PC
- Do not pay any attention to anything Apple says regarding printing from your Windows PC
Instead, just use the regular Windows 7 Install Printer wizard. There are a lot of steps, but they’re easy.
- Select Devices and Printers from the Windows Start menu
- Click Add a Printer
- Select the Add a local printer option (yes, it’s not local, but that’s Microsoft for you)
- Click Create a new port, and select Standard TCP/IP Port from the drop-down list, and click Next
- Fill in the Hostname or IP address with the address of your Airport Extreme router. That’s probably 10.0.1.1, but you can check it by running the ipconfig command from a command prompt and looking for the Wireless LAN’s Default Gateway address. Leave Port name at whatever it fills in, uncheck Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use, and click Next.
- The wizard will say it’s Detecting the TCP/IP port. It should find the device. If not, you probably entered the wrong IP address. Check it and try again. If it still fails to detect it, don’t worry about it and continue anyway.
- Select Network Print Server (1 Port – USB) from the Standard Device Type list. The default Generic Network Card would probably work okay, but I didn’t try it. Click Next.
- Select your printer’s Manufacturer from the list, then select your specific printer from the Printers list, then click Next. If your printer isn’t there, you’ll have to download a driver and use the Have Disk… option.
- Fill in a Printer name, or leave the name it fills in for you alone. Click Next.
- Decide whether to share the printer or not. Since other devices on your network can print directly to the Airport Extreme, why bother to share it? I selected Do not share this printer and clicked Next.
- Decide whether to Set as the default printer, and try to Print a test page, then click Finish.
This worked for me on two different Windows 7 PCs. They now print in color, and jobs submitted after they print also print.