13.1 Installing a Printer
A printer is designed to follow computer instructions called
from your PC. These codes tell the printer what fonts to use, how to set margins, which paper tray to use, and so on.
But the codes aren't identical for every printer. Therefore, every printer requires a piece of software ”the
the printer how to interpret what it "hears" from your computer.
Windows XP comes with hundreds of printer drivers built right in; your printer also came with a set of drivers on a CD or floppy. You can often find more recent driver software for your printer on the manufacturer's Web site, such as http://www.
.com or http://www.lexmark.com, or from a central driver repository like http://www.windrivers.com.
13.1.1 Existing Printers
Did you upgrade your PC to Windows XP from an earlier version ”one that worked fine with your printer? In that case, Windows XP automatically notices and inherits your existing settings. If it's a fairly recent printer with a
recent driver, it'll probably work fine with Windows XP.
But if the printer is
elderly, the printer software may be incompatible with Windows XP. In that case, your first activity after dinner should be to search the printer company's Web site for an updated version, or check Microsoft's master Windows XP compatibility list at http://www.microsoft.com/hcl.
If you just bought a new computer or a new printer, however, you'll have to hook it up yourself and install its software. In general, there's not much to it.
Only people with Administrator accounts can install a new printer to a Windows XP machine (see Chapter 16).
13.1.2 USB Printers
If you're like most people at home these days, you use an inkjet printer that connects to your PC's USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. As a technology, USB has lots of advantages: USB gadgets are easy to connect and disconnect, are very fast,
space, can be plugged and unplugged while the PC is running, and so on.
Just the act of connecting a USB printer to your PC, for example, inspires Windows XP to dig into its own bag of included driver modules to install the correct one (Figure 13-1). See Chapter 14 for more on this process.
Figure 13-1. You got lucky. Windows recognizes your printer, has the appropriate driver, and has put the software into place. Let the printing begin.
13.1.3 Network Printers
If you work in an office where
people on the network share a single laser printer, the printer usually isn't connected directly to your computer. Instead, it's elsewhere on the network; the Ethernet cable coming out of your PC connects you to it indirectly.
In general, there's very little involved in ensuring that your PC "sees" this printer. Its icon simply shows up in the Start
Printers and Faxes folder. (If you don't see it, run the Add Printer Wizard described in the following section. On its second screen, you'll be
the chance to look for "A network printer, or printer attached to another computer." That's the one you want.)
13.1.4 Parallel, Serial, and Infrared Printers
Although USB printers are the world's most popular type today, there was, believe it or not, a time before USB. In those days, most home printers fell into one of these categories:
. Before USB changed the world, most printers connected to PCs using a printer cable or
The cable connects to your PC's parallel port, which Microsoft's help screens call the LPT1 port ”a 25-pin, D-shaped jack. (On many PCs, this connector is
with a printer icon on the back panel.)
. Other older printers use a cable connected to one of your computer's
) ports, the connectors that often accommodate an external modem. The primary advantage of a serial connection is the extended cable length: Parallel cables must be no more than nine feet long, while serial cables up to 50 feet long work fine.
To protect its innards,
off the PC before connecting or disconnecting a parallel or serial cable.
. Certain printers from HP, Canon, Citizen, and other companies print using
technology ”that is, there's no cable at all. Instead, if your PC has an infrared lens (as many laptops do), it can communicate with the printer's similar lens
, as long as the printer and PC are within sight of, and relatively close to, each other.
If the technology gods are smiling, you can just connect the printer, turn on your Windows XP machine, and delight in the "Found new hardware" message that appears on your taskbar. You're ready to print.
But if Windows doesn't "know about" the printer model you've hooked up, it can't install its drivers automatically. In that case, the Add Printer Wizard appears (Figure 13-2) ”or you can always
it. (Choose Start
Printers and Faxes; click the Add Printer link.) Click
to walk through the questions until you've correctly identified your printer and installed the appropriate software.
Figure 13-2. Top: As the note explains, use the Add Printer Wizard only if your printer doesn't connect to your USB or FireWire (IEEE 1394) port. Bottom: In this window, try the "Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer" option first, as shown here. If Windows can't automatically detect the brand and model of the printer you've attached, return to this screen and turn off this option. You'll wind up in the dialog box shown in the next illustration.
Here are the guidelines for using the next screen:
Try the "Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer" checkbox first (see Figure 13-2 at bottom). If it doesn't succeed in locating your printer and installing the software, run the wizard again, this time turning that option off.
If the "Automatically detect" option didn't work, you'll be asked to specify which PC port your printer's connected to. You'll then be asked to
, from a gigantic scrolling list of every printer Microsoft has ever
of, your exact brand and model (Figure 13-3).
Figure 13-3. The left pane lists every printer manufacturer Microsoft has ever heard of. Once you've selected your printer's manufacturer, a list of all the printer models from that manufacturer (that Windows XP
about) appears in the right pane. Click the Have Disk button if your printer's driver software is on a disk supplied by the manufacturer.
At this point, you must lead Windows by the nose to the printer's driver software. On the Add Printer Wizard screen, select your printer from the list of printers. If Windows doesn't list your printer there, or if its manufacturer supplied the Windows XP driver on a disk, click the Have Disk button, and then navigate to the CD, floppy disk, or downloaded Internet installation file that contains the driver.
wizard screens will invite you to type a short
for your printer, in order to make it available to other computers on the network (yes, Windows can even share, for example, a USB inkjet, even though it's not technically a network printer), to print a test page, and so on. (If the test page doesn't print out correctly, Windows XP launches its printer
”a specialized wizard that offers you one troubleshooting suggestion after another until either you or Windows quits in frustration.)
13.1.5 The Printer Icon
If your driver-installation efforts are ultimately successful, you're rewarded by the appearance of an icon that represents your printer.
This icon appears in the
Printers and Faxes
window ”an important window that you'll be reading about over and over again in this chapter. Exactly how you
there depends on how you've set up Windows XP:
If you've set up your Start menu to display a submenu for the Control Panel (Opening the Control Panel Window When You Can't), just choose Start
Printers and Faxes.
If you view your Control Panel in
view (Section 9.1), choose Start
Control Panel, and then open the Printers and Faxes icon.
If you view your Control Panel in
view, choose Start
Control Panel, click the Printers and Other Hardware link, and finally click the "View installed printers or fax printers" link.
The Printers and Faxes window should be listed in your Start menu, which saves you some burrowing if you use this feature a lot. If it's not there, for some reason, right-click the Start button. From the shortcut menu, choose Properties. On the Start Menu tab, click Customize, then click the Advanced tab. Scroll down in the list of checkboxes, and finally turn on "Printers and Faxes." Click OK twice.
If Your Printer Model Isn't Listed
If your printer model isn't in the list of printers (Figure 13-3), then Windows XP doesn't have a driver for it. Your printer model may be very new (more recent than Windows XP, that is) or very old. You have two choices for getting around this roadblock:
First, you can contact the manufacturer (or its Web site) to get the drivers. Then install the driver software as described in the previous section.
Second, you can use the
feature. As it turns out, many printers work with one of several standard drivers that come from other companies. For example, many laser printers work fine with the HP LaserJet driver. (These laser printers are not, in fact, HP LaserJets, but they
The instructions that came with your printer should have a section on emulation; the manufacturer's help line can also tell you which popular printer yours can impersonate.
GEM IN THE ROUGH
Installing Fake Printers
If your printer has two paper trays, switching to the secondary one is something of a hassle. You must
time making the changes in the Print dialog box, as described later in this chapter. Similarly, switching the printout resolution from, say, 300 dpi to 600 dpi when printing important graphic documents is a
That's why you may find it useful to create several different icons for
the same printer.
The beauty of this
is that you can set up different settings for each of these icons. One might store canned settings for 600 dpi printouts from the top paper tray, another might represent 300 dpi printouts from the bottom one, and so on. When it comes time to print, you can switch between these virtual printers quickly and easily.
To create another icon, just run the Add Printer Wizard a second time, as described on the
pages. At the point in the installation where you name the printer, invent a name that describes this printer's alternate settings, like
When the installation process is complete, you'll see both printer icons ”the old and the new ”in the Printers and Faxes window. Right-click the new "printer" icon, choose Printing Preferences from the shortcut menu, and change the settings to match its role.
To specify which one you want as your
printer ”the one you use most of the time ”right-click the appropriate icon and choose Set as Default Printer from the shortcut menu.
But thereafter, whenever you want to switch to the other set of printer settings ”when you need better graphics, a different paper tray, or other special options for a document ”just select the appropriate printer from the Printer Name drop-down list in the Print dialog box (see Figure 13-5 at top). You've just saved yourself a half-
additional mouse clicks and settings changes.
Figure 13-5. Top: The options in the Print dialog box are different on each printer model and each application, so your Print dialog box may look slightly different. For example, here are the Print dialog boxes from Microsoft Word and WordPad. Most of the time, the factory settings shown here are what you want (one copy, print all pages). Just click OK or Print (or press Enter) to close this dialog box and send the document to the printer. Bottom: During printing, the tiny icon of a printer appears in your notification area. Pointing to it without clicking produces a pop-up tooltip like this that reveals the background printing activity.
If you're using your Start menu in Classic view (Section 9.1), you get to your Printers and Faxes window by clicking Start
Printers and Faxes.
In any case, the Printers and Faxes window now contains an icon
the name you gave it during the installation (Figure 13-4). This printer icon comes in handy in several different situations, as the rest of this chapter clarifies.
Figure 13-4. At first, the task pane in the Printers and Faxes window offers only two commands. But when you click a printer icon, a long list of useful options appears, as shown here. Many of them duplicate the options that appear when you right-click a printer icon ”something you'd be wise to remember the day your right mouse button breaks.