Thursday, August 16, 2018

3 Printer Settings you Really Should Know About

Printer software varies greatly by manufacturer, type, and model. However, there are many settings that are universal. Some of these settings include, but are not limited to:
  • Paper size
  • Monochrome vs color printing
  • Printer sharing
  • Port type (USB, wireless, etc.)
  • Print resolution (the higher the number the greater the quality)
In addition to these settings, there are 3 printer settings you really should know about to get the best usage out of any printer.

3 Printer Settings you Really Should Know About

Print Spooling

Print spooling is the setting that controls when the printer begins printing each print job it receives. This setting has 2 options:

  1. Begin printing jobs immediately - even if the printer has not yet received the entire job OR
  2. Begin printing only after the entire job has been received by the printer
Using the print jobs immediately setting is the default and typically starts printing sooner, especially with larger jobs. However, print jobs with large or detailed graphics often pause sporadically between pages as the data for the job is still being received and processed. One benefit to printing only after the last page is spooled is how much easier it is to be at the printer when it begins printing. When printing on special paper, using the bypass tray, or any situation where being at the printer can prevent issues, this is the setting to use.

To change the print spooling setting:

  • Right-click on the printer and select "Printer Properties".
  • Click on the "Advanced" tab.
  • In the middle of the tab, click the radio button to match when you want the printer to begin printing.
  • Click "Apply" and "OK" to save this setting.

Media Type

Media type is likely one of the most overlooked printer settings. This can be due to user's unfamiliarity with the setting or because leaving it at the default often prints "well enough". However, you will find yourself with far greater results if you choose to change the media type when printing on anything other than standard paper, like card stock or glossy photo paper. Changing the media type alerts the printer that it needs to print differently to achieve the best results. 

When the paper type is changed and the media type is left unchanged, you can end up with less than usable results. The photo below was printed on a laser jet printer using glossy photo paper with the standard paper setting. As you can see, the toner was not fully burned onto the paper leaving the edging distorted as the toner comes off when handled.

Typical example of a photo printed on glossy paper without appropriately changing the media type.

To change the media type:
  • Right-click on the printer and select "Printing Preferences".
  • From the Basic tab, click on the drop down menu next to "Media Type".
  • Select the appropriate media type.
  • Click "Apply" and "OK" to save this setting.
  • Be sure to change the setting back to standard paper once finished.
  • NOTE: If this is a very uncommon change, you can do a one-time change. Click to print from within a document. Modify the Printer Preferences from the print window that appears inside the document. Changing this setting inside the print window of a document makes the change for that print job only.

Availability Hours

The availability hours setting is extremely useful for large families, groups and small businesses. The beauty of this setting is that the print device can be installed for each user, but you can limit when they print. This setting can help prevent accidental printing, printing documents that have not been proofed, or even non-work related items that quickly use up resources.

  • How easy is it to print an extra page when an item fell just outside the margins? 
  • Or to print in color when black and white would have sufficed? 
  • Or to print only to realize you forgot to make one last change? 
These mistakes happen to all of us. If you have ever worked or volunteered in a classroom, you have seen the astonishing amount of waste that can occur. 

To change the availability hours:
  • Right-click on the printer and select "Printer Properties".
  • Click on the "Advanced" tab.
  • Set the hours you want the printer to be available for printing.
  • Click "Apply" and "OK" to save the new setting.

Regardless of the type of printer, there are many common features that most printers have. These settings are available so they can be configured for specific uses. Still, there are likely some settings you might never have looked at or understood their special uses. Print spooling, media type and availability hours are three such settings that are often overlooked but can be extremely useful in the right situations.

As always, knowing why a setting exists, and how it can affect the output makes all the difference in how you use that information to your advantage!

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