It's usually one of your first administrative tasks: you buy a printer, take it home, unpack it, and follow the instructions on the bedspread-sized flyer. For most of today's models, this means installing the drivers on the accompanying CD (a reboot is sometimes requested) and then just connecting the device to the computer through an available USB parallel port. XP takes over from there.
And at times it can even be less complicated than that. XP ships with a wide variety of hardware drivers, including many of the most common print models. Print device installation can sometimes be simply a matter of attaching the device to a USB or FireWire (IEEE 1394) port and turning the darn thing on. Windows detects the print device and installs the appropriate drivers.
But while getting a print device up and working may not present the biggest challenge to the average computer user, there are times when printing can get a little more complicated.
For example, what should you do if your model cannot connect through a USB port and instead uses the older parallel port? The parallel port, unlike the USB port, does not support hot-swapping, which is the ability to attach and detach a device without rebooting the system. In order to set up the printer, you will have to use the Add Printer Wizard, available through the Printers and Faxes Control Panel applet.
To start the Add Printer Wizard, follow these steps:
I recommend clearing the check box to prevent Windows from detecting your Plug and Play printer. If the printer were truly Plug and Play (like a USB printer), XP would have discovered it by now.
The other screens in the Add Printer Wizard depend on whether you choose to install a local printer or a network printer. If you are setting up a local printer, next you'll select a port that the print device is connected to (usually LPT1) and then find the printer drivers to install. Many of these drivers are included with the XP operating system and will also be included on the disk that ships with the print device.