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Printers and Faxes

Manage local and network printers.

To Open

Start Settings Printers and Faxes (Classic Start menu only)

Control Panel [Printers and Other Hardware] Printers and Faxes

Command Prompt control printers


The Printers and Faxes folder contains icons representing your installed printers and fax devices. Once a printer is installed here, you can print to it from within your applications, drag documents to the its icon to print them, or double-click on the printer icon to see or change the status of current print jobs (see Figure 4-77).

Figure 4-77. Use the Printers and Faxes folder to add, configure, and troubleshoot your printers

The Add Printer wizard helps you select the appropriate printer driver for a local or network printer. The context menu for each printer, among other things, allows you to select that printer as the default printer—the one that appears, by default, in all your applications’ print dialogs.

File Print is the standard way to print for most applications. Right-clicking on a file then selecting Print from its context menu allows you to send a file to the printer without opening it first, although this can have mixed results. You can also create a shortcut to a printer on the Desktop and then drag-and-drop a file on the printer icon.

If you drag more than one file to a printer icon, the system will open a separate copy of the application for each file. This may be OK for text files and a small application like Notepad, but drag a group of Word or Excel files to the printer, and it may bring your system to its knees.

Double-click on any printer icon for a view of the printer’s job queue. You’ll see the document name, status (printing, paused, and so on), the owner of the job, progress (in number of pages printed), and when the job was started. You can drag your own jobs up and down to change their priority. Use the Printer menu to pause the printer or purge all print jobs. Use the Document menu to pause or cancel (delete) any selected documents.


  • To have more than one computer print to the same printer, just connect the printer directly to one of the computers. After it has been installed, right-click its icon, select Sharing, and click the Share this printer option. Once a printer has been shared, it can be installed as a network printer on all the other computers on the network (see Figure 4-78). See Chapter 7 for more details.

    Figure 4-78. Let others on your network print to your computer with the Sharing tab

  • You can choose whether print spooling (“offline printing”) should be enabled for any printer. If offline printing is selected, you can print to a network printer even when you aren’t connected, or to a local printer when it is turned off. When the printer then becomes available, you will be asked whether to print any files in the queue.

See Also

“Control Panel”

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