If you have a lot of laptops that are using your printer at home, chances are that members of your family are finding it inconvenient for having to physically connect to your home printer whenever they want to print something. If you have an old Vista computer that is no longer being used, you can turn it into a wireless print server so that your family members can use the printer whenever they please and wherever they may be using their laptop.
Please note that this will only work if your Vista is at least the home premium version. I don't know if this will work in the home basic version but you can check if the options mentioned here are present in the Vista version that you have in your house. The first thing that you need to do is to change the settings in your wireless router to have a static IP address assigned to the Vista computer that will serve as a wireless print server. Somewhere in this website are instructions on how to do this.
The next thing that should be done is to install the printer on the computer that will serve as the print server. You will need to physically connect the printer to this computer through a USB connection. Make sure that the computer is able to print a test page at the end of the installation. Log on to the Vista computer as an administrator and open its control panel. Click on Network and Internet and then click on Network and Sharing Center. At the lower part of the window click the arrow opposite Password protected sharing, click on the Turn off password protected sharing and then click on the Apply button.
Click on the downward arrow opposite Printer sharing, click on the Turn on printer sharing, and then click the Apply button. Notice that the file sharing option has been automatically turned on also. Go back tot he Control Panel home and click on Printer below the Hardware and sound heading. Select the printer that you want to share, right click it, and then click on Sharing. Click on Change sharing options button on the Properties window. Notice that the printer has been already shared. Just click on the OK button and then close all Control Panel windows.
Turn on and log on to a laptop that will be using the wireless print server. Open the Control Panel and click on Printer under the Hardware and Sound heading. Click on Add a printer at the top portion of the window. Click on Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer. Highlight the printer to which the printer server is connected and then click the Next button. Click on the Next button and then click on the Print a test page button. Make sure that a printer test page is printed on the wireless shared printer. Close the Printer Test Page window and then click on the Finish button.
Before using the printer, the Vista computer that serves as the print server needs to be turned on. The printer needs to be physically connected through a USB cable to the printer that is being shared. If the computer being used to share the printer is a laptop, you would need to change its power options so that it will stay running for a long time and not to sleep when not being used. The laptop should likewise be plugged in to an electric outlet to ensure that its batteries receive continuous electric power. To use the printer in a wireless mode, advise your family members to choose the network printer instead of a local printer when printing in the application that they are using.
If client computers cannot find the printer that is shared, the most probable reason is that password protected sharing is turned on in the Vista computer that is sharing the printer. Make sure that password protected sharing is turned off in the computer that serves as the wireless print server. Now your family members need not connect physically with your home printer in order to be able to print their documents. Thanks to your old Vista computer that you have found a new use for.