I can see many of you go “HUH?!” looking at the title of this post… You are not alone, because this is an undocumented feature of Apple Airport Express (AE). Quite a handy one too. For the longest time I was looking for a way to share my wife’s laser printer over the network. The closest I got to was to create another wireless network with the AE and connect the printer to the USB port. But it was troublesome to switch the network every time I wanted to print. Needless to say my wife didn’t like the setup at all. She likes things that “just work”. Fair enough, because after all technology should simplify things for people.
So I went back to the drawing board. Funnily enough Damien was trying to do something similar recently and he pointed me at this article to configure your AE to join an existing network. I decided it was worth a shot. But before I got too far with that, I stumbled on the built in setting in AE to join a network. Setting up was a breeze. Here are the steps.
- Make sure the wireless network you want to connect is up and running and your Mac is already connected to it.
- Plug the AE in and connect your printer to the USB port in AE.
- When the orange light starts flashing bring up the AirPort Utility App.
- It should detect your AE and click the “Manual Setup” on the dialog.
- Goto Wireless tab and select “join a wireless network” from the drop down.
- Select the wireless network you want to join and fill in the security information.
- That’s it! Once saved your AE will restart and the orange light will turn to green after few minutes.
- Then do the usual to add the network printer via system preferences.
Adding an AE shared printer On Windows
Adding the network shared printer on Windows requires little bit more work. You need to install Bonjour for Windows and then follow the on-screen instructions to add the printer. Once set you will have wireless printing with your existing wireless network.