In order to print anything from your computer it's necessary to have a printer that is compatible with your system. Although this is not usually a problem, some computers such as the MAC may not work with Windows - make sure you know before you buy a printer if it will work with our computer. You also need to know if it is compatible with your operating system. In most cases, this is not a problem, but if you are buying a used printer, it's essential to know if it will work with your computer. For instance, some of the older Hewlett Packard printers are designed to work with Windows 95 or Windows 98. While the majority of user have upgraded to Windows XP and beyond, there are still some still running older operating systems, especially home users who feel no need to upgrade because their current systems are running well.
Once you have established your printer is compatible with your operating system and you have connected it to your computer, you must install the printer drivers in order for it to work. While it may appear the process is as simple as just connecting the printer to the computer, it goes beyond that. For instance, the computer has to recognize new software, and while it usually does this step automatically, there may be times you will need to do it manually, especially on operating systems prior to Windows XP.
The next step in the efficient operation of your printer is to install the printer drivers. Depending on the kind of printer you have there may be several steps involved. If you did not receive software with your printer there will be an option to obtain the drivers online. You will have to choose your printer from the drop down list, and if it does not show up, you may have to manually install the drivers. In addition, if you have a combination unit such as printer/copier/scanner/fax machine or any combination thereof, you need to make sure you install the drivers for all the devices or they will not work. For example, if you only install drivers for your printer and copier but not the scanner or fax machine, only the printer and copier will work. While the copier may not require drivers to operate, the printer, scanner and fax machine do.
Once you install the drivers for your printer and it is ready for use you want to put the drivers disk in a safe place in case something should happen and you need to reinstall them. In addition, you need to update them on a regular basis to make sure you are running the latest printer software. This ensures your printer will always be running at the utmost efficiency based on its age and the amount of use it undergoes. The more often you use your printer, the more wear and tear it will sustain. If you use your printer frequently, make sure you choose one that is designed for more extensive use so you will not need to replace it frequently.