Printer Drivers and Printing Software

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Printing software allows you to access and interface with your printer. Before you can print from a drawing, painting, image-editing, or page-layout program, the printer software program must be correctly installed onto the computer, usually from the CD that comes with your printer. (Photo-direct printers that take media cards don't require computers, and the printer software can be accessed directly from the printer itself).

Every print device requires a particular "printer driver" for the specific operating system of the computer. (Note that it's your computer's operating system that you match to the printer, not the software application.) You must have the right driver for your printer in order to support all the printer's features (paper selection, quality level, and so on) and to tell the print engine how to correctly render the image's digital data. If you change your operating system, you may need to install an updated printer driver, which you can normally download from the printer-manufacturer's website.

When you select "print" from your application's File menu, what you get is a series of menu screens and dialog boxes for that particular printer driver (see Figure 2.17). If you have a PostScript printing device, you need to use a PostScript driver and select it.

Figure 2.17 The printer driver at work. Left: The basic print dialogue box from Windows XP Home when accessed via Adobe Photoshop Element's "Print" command. Make sure the proper printer is selected (Canon i960 inkjet printer); then click Properties (red oval). Right: The Properties screen lets you specify that printer's important options and settings, or it will open further screens as needed.

Figure 2.17 The printer driver at work. Left: The basic print dialogue box from Windows XP Home when accessed via Adobe Photoshop Element's "Print" command. Make sure the proper printer is selected (Canon i960 inkjet printer); then click Properties (red oval). Right: The Properties screen lets you specify that printer's important options and settings, or it will open further screens as needed.

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