14 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2012 9:29 AM by sig
ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

can two MacBooks share a printer via just a usb hub?


MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.7.1)
  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,320 points)

    No, a USB hub splits a current one computer USB connection, it's not a router which assigns IP addresses.


    Connect the printer to your router, then you can use any computer (wired or wireless) to print.

  • ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    we have a verizon modem but not a router.

    seems we could either buy a router or another printer....

    any other suggestions?

    thank you!

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,320 points)

    ellenfromblue bell wrote:


    we have a verizon modem but not a router.

    seems we could either buy a router or another printer....

    any other suggestions?



    Do the same thing your doing to get each computer on the Internet, one takes turns connecting the cable.


    If you want both computers on the Internet and printing at the same time, that's what a router is for.






    Just sub one of the PC's above for a printer and you see the idea how it all works.


    A Airport Express is Mac friendly method, but if you have computers that have no wireless capability then you will need a Airport Extreme for the Ethernet outports.


    You can also buy a third party router from the PC store, that works too, but it's a bit more complicated and you have to install your own firmware updates manually, no Airport Utility to do it for you. But you save money.



    The important thing is setting up the router securely, WPA and WEP are both cracked. New Mac's don't even support WEP encrypted because it's worthless and false security.


    What you want is:


    WPA(AES) Personal with two passwords, each 20+ random letter, number, symbol characters in length. One password is used for Internet access only the other for Admin router access only, this way a user can't crack the router.


    Turn off remote access, don't use hidden network or MAC Address filtering, no defense.


    The long passwords are needed to defeat brute force attacks using video card based software, this type of password will take thousands of years to crack.


    You can learn more about wireless networking online, have a local PC/Mac guy set you up.


    Your computers are much more secure behind a router than directly connected to Internet as the router is a dumb switch, like a large security guard, only allowing certain things to pass and beating down others who try.


    Also you don't wear out your Ethernet port like what your doing now connecting the cable all the time.


    Good Luck

  • Linc Davis Level 10 Level 10 (173,865 points)

    See Print Sharing on this page: Mac 101: Printing (Mac OS X v10.6)

  • ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    thanks for the details.

    i'll work on this.

    appreciate your detailed help!

  • fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    ellenfromblue bell wrote:


    can two MacBooks share a printer via just a usb hub?

    Not USB hub, but there are USB switches, ie, devices which allow multiple computers to share one USB peripheral; see some here




    Most are Win-only; some claim to be Mac compatible. I've tried a couple on the Mac, and they were very buggy. My SOHO is mixed (Win & Mac) and they didn't work very well on Win either. I decided they weren't worth the trouble; but maybe they work for others. If your local computer store has something like that and a no-questions-asked money-back policy, you can just try and see if it works for you.


    If the printer is networkable, share it on the network (I suspect your Verizon device is a modem/router combo), as ds store suggested. If it isn't, share it from one of the Macs, as Linc Davis suggested. Alternatively, you can try a small network print server, such as the one from Iogear, which is not much more expensive than a USB switch.




    Or, if indeed you don't have a router, you can get a router with a built-in network print server, but they are more expensive.


    Whatever solution you choose, be prepared to deal with glitches. Nothing works as well as connecting a printer directly to the Mac.

  • sig Level 8 Level 8 (35,775 points)

    Use an Airport Express. Then each Mac can access the printer wirelessly. (And no glitches).

  • ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    thanks for these several approaches.

    i have some homework to do now!

  • fane_j Level 4 Level 4 (3,660 points)

    sig wrote:


    Use an Airport Express.

    An excellent suggestion, but a different price range from a USB switch…

    (And no glitches).

    Then it's the very first such device since the first computer was invented, bar none.

  • ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    indeed, the price issue can make it just as cheap to buy a second printer!

    less elegant, but works!

    thanks for your comments!

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,320 points)

    If buying a $50-$100 router is out of your price range, you really need to consider less expensive Windows PC's in your future, like a long lasting Windows 7 desktop/tower for instance.


    My friend has had the same XP Dell desktop he paid $1200 for 10 years ago, Microsoft still supplies security updates and free anti-malware. He is about to buy a new machine as XP is due to be retired, a Windows 7 tower for $1000 and repeat the same for the next 10 years.


    Microsoft has even sweetened the pie in Win 7 by including making of System Restore Disks/images and boot install disk so the entire drive can be restored by the user. No need for a outside service to restore.


    Laptops of all computer makers tend to wear out much faster than desktops. Windows laptops are substantially less expensive, many are easily below $1000.


    Mac's are premium priced computers, Apple doesn't play in the sub-$1000 computer market, except for the Mac-Mini but one still has to supply monitor/keyboard and mouse.


    A similar Mac laptop of the same performance specs can cost twice as much as a same Windows laptop by the time tax and AppleCare is included.


    The security issues of Windows with the new version  7 has pretty much been reduced down to nothing, and then there is System Restore, so it's easy to boot off the burned disk, wipe and reinstall.


    Apple also doesn't support older operating system versions, you either have a choice of paid upgrading the OS once or twice along with all your software, or be left behind to fend for yourself on security.


    Apple pretty much expects your hardware to be turned over on a 2-3 year basis, combined with the higher prices of Apple hardware, can place a financial burden on some users.


    If your one of these users, then ideally your not in Apple's target luxury consumer market and should reconsider.


    I have computers of all types, inexpensive Linux machines to Windows machines to top of the line Mac's.


    I'm of the opnion is what works best for the user, I've seen many people chase the luxury goods dragon and go broke in the process.


    Sometimes Windows (or even Linux) us just good enough.

  • ellenfromblue bell Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    sorry.  i lived in the Windows world at work for too long!


    didn't say any particular item was out of my price range, just looking for the least expensive workable solution.

  • ds store Level 7 Level 7 (30,320 points)

    Well you have two MacBooks and only one wired connection to the Internet, a router will solve both your problems of the sharing printer and sharing the Internet, also adds a layer of security as I mentioned above.


    Macbooks are portable devices, connecting and reconnecting the Ethernet and USB cables all the time will prematurely wear them out, Ethernet port especially.


    Unless the two computers are constantly sitting next to each other, like desktops in order to share cables, the wireless router is by far the best choice for mobile computers.


    Also another factor is Apple doesn't support older OS X versions with security updates (only the last two versions), so a "live" Mac on the Internet without a router protecting it is just asking for trouble.


    What is occurring behind the scenes is there is a constant barrage of attacks against your IP address, the one you use to connect your Mac to the Internet. If your Mac fails because Apple decided they are not going to issue a security update for your older machine, then your machine can become compromised and used without your knowledge or consent.


    What a router does is it uses the "public" IP address facing the Internet and then gives each machine on the local network a different IP address which isn't public. This shields your machines, the hackers have to first hack the router before they can gain further access. Routers have been known to be hacked, but they offer less avenues.


    With Apple's Airport Express/Extreme, they do supply updates via your Software Update and resets the router for you so it's at the peak of security.


    It's one thing I do compliment Apple's security for, however their decision not to supply security/stability updates for older OS X versions is something else entirely.


    So I'm concerned because your running two Macbooks, Apple has discontinued this model so it's a older machine, running a older OS obviously, which there is a potential security issue brewing with your machines.


    A router, properly setup, will allow you to keep using the machine, provide better security and give you mobility, which far surpassed a simple USB switch in your overall equation.


    Good luck with your decision.

  • sig Level 8 Level 8 (35,775 points)

    "Then it's the very first such device since the first computer was invented, bar none."


    So true, so true. Frankly it's a very simple solution that allows flexibility.