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Sharing access to a printer is a very handy way to save money and space, making one printer do the work of many. Most consumer-level (i.e., affordable) printers lack direct network support, but you can adapt most printers for network use one way or another. Each of the following sections covers a particular kind of printer, usually determined by its connection method and manufacturer.
Most printers made recently support USB connections, at least as an option. Apple's USB Printer Sharing software readily adapts a large number of them for Ethernet or LocalTalk network use and comes free with Mac OS 9.
Typically found in the business world, these printers feature direct network connectivity through an Ethernet port (pictured at right). New Ethernet-ready printers can cost big bucks, but older models (including some of Apple's LaserWriter series) are finding their way into home use.
Expensive at the time, many higher-end, pre-USB inkjet printers from the '90s come LocalTalk-ready. Though some homes still use LocalTalk networks and welcome these printers readily, many need to connect LocalTalk printers to speedier Ethernet networks. If this is your situation, see the LocalTalk-to-Ethernet page instead.
Printers made or branded by Apple include the LaserWriter, StyleWriter, and ImageWriter series, many of which are still in regular use. For the non-network models, Apple provided several support options, both hardware and software.
Even if your printer doesn't fall into one of the above categories, it may still be possible to share it to a network. Some printer makers add network support for certain models through specialized hardware or software.
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