Lexmark told me that in order to share a printer, both computers have to have the same operating systerm. One computer is XP and the other is Vista. Would this be a problem?
Thats rubbish. All Windows platforms will share files with each other. Admittedly, sharing between XP and 9x can be more tricky to set up but not a problem between XP, 2000 & Vista.
The reason you can't get the laptop to see the printer on the network is because you haven't set up file sharing between the two machines yet. In other words, it can't see the printer because it can't see the computer that has the printer attached.
You'll need to do the following :
XP & Vista use different default workgroup names. So unless you've already changed them, you need to change one or the other to match. Vista uses WORKGROUP as the default, XP uses MSHOME as the default.
First of all, check on the XP machine that the workgroup name is MSHOME (right click on My Computer & select Properties. In system properties, select the Computer Name tab & check the workgroup name is MSHOME.)
Next, on the Vista machine, go to Start menu, then right click on Computer & select Properties. In the System window, change the workgroup name from WORKGROUP to MSHOME. Reboot the system.
On the Vista machine, click Start, then right click Network & select Properties.
In the Network & Sharing Centre window, check that the network type is set to Private (not public or domain). If it needs changing, use the customize button.
In the Sharing & Discovery section, make sure that the following options are turned on :
Public folder sharing
You choose whether to enable or disable Password Protected Sharing. When enabled, you must enter a username & password whenever you access files across the network. This means that your user account must be setup on each machine first.(i.e same username & password)
If disabled, you will not need to enter username/password everytime but it does mean that anyone on your network will have access to the shared files/printers.
On the machine which has the printer attached, right click on the printer icon & select the 'sharing' option & enable sharing of the printer. Check that the permissions are set correctly.
It would help if you let me know which machine (desktop with printer attached or laptop) is running Vista. Also whether you have XP Home or Pro.
Another thing to check is any 3rd party firewalls you may have & the Windows Firewalll. Like I said before, it's easier for now if they are disabled while setting up the file/printer sharing.
Re. user accounts
It is possible to transfer files between one user account on one machine & a different user account on the other machine. However, this depends on the permissions that you have setup for file sharing (i.e whether access is restricted to certain users only)
Also, if you have to log in with a username & password when you connect to the other computer over the network, then that user account must be setup on both machines.
When you copy files across over the network, they will go to whatever user account you are currently logged in under on the receiving machine. (NB Vista also creates a Public shared folder by default for file sharing. If files are copied into this folder, they will be visible over the network. I 'believe' that this Public folder is visible & accessable to all users on the vista machine, i.e not attached to any one individual user account)
When you said about copying user account settings from one account to another, did you mean if both accounts are on the same machine or on two different machines?