If you want to troubleshoot a problem with your printer driver, try printing with a different printer driver. If you determine that the problem does not occur when you use a different driver, you may need to update or reinstall the original printer driver. This article describes some general guidelines to use when you want to select a compatible printer driver.
It can help to understand the printing process, if you know something about print jobs and printers. A print job contains more information than the document information that is displayed on the screen; a print job contains source code in the form of embedded commands that only the printer can interpret.
Printers are electronic computing devices that produce printed output by interpreting the source code in the print job. Printers use their own input and output channels (parallel or serial, network adapters, output to paper, film, or fabric, and so on). A printer has a processor that may be a proprietary microchip or a general-purpose chip (like the Motorola 680x0-series chips in Apple LaserWriter devices).
Printers store incoming data in their own random access memory (RAM), and they have a programming language interpreter (for example, a PostScript, PCL, or HP-GL/2 interpreter). The program you use on the computer combines data objects such as text, fonts, and graphics, and then uses a printer driver to create a printer program that is interpreted by the printer. The result is the printed output you receive from the printer.
Selecting a Compatible Driver as a Troubleshooting Step
All printers use a language to print a file: for example, Postscript, PCL, or Qume Sprint 11. To identify a compatible printer driver to use, first determine which language your printer recognizes. When you select a compatible printer driver, use the guidelines in the following sections. NOTE
: Printing with a compatible printer driver should be used only as a troubleshooting step or as temporary workaround. For additional help with drivers that are not distributed by Microsoft, please contact the printer manufacturer.
There are four types of ink-jet printers. These are listed as follows:
- Hewlett-Packard (HP) DeskJet-compatible
- Windows Printing System
If the ink-jet printer has a maximum resolution of 360 or 720 dots per inch (dpi), the printer is likely to be an Epson-compatible printer. If the maximum resolution is 300 or 600 dpi, the printer may be an HP DeskJet- compatible (PCL), PostScript, or Windows Printing System printer. Selecting a Compatible Driver:
To help you select a compatible inkjet printer driver, use the following table.
Ink-Jet printer Best emulation Other emulation -------------------------------------------------------------------- Canon Bubble Jet, IBM Proprinter 24 Epson LQ black/white Canon BJ Color Epson LQ-860; usually Epson LQ-2550 a dip switch setting must be changed Canon BJ 610 Windows Printing System None Citizen ProJet HP DeskJet 500 HP DeskJet 500+ Epson Stylus Epson LQ; use the 24-pin None Epson grid that follows to pick an appropriate driver HP DeskJet Can be used only with None DeskJet drivers; try installing the monochrome DeskJet 500 driver for later models
IBM/Lexmark PostScript printer; try QMS Colorscript Color 4079 the Apple LaserWriter II* IBM/Lexmark HP DeskJet 550 None ExecJet II 4076 IBM/Lexmark Windows Printing System None WinWriter Star Micronics Epson LQ None Tektronix PostScript printer; try a None Phaser 140 low-level Apple LaserWriter* like the Apple LaserWriter II DECwriter 100i Olivetti JP350 for HP DeskJet 500 Microsoft Windows 95 only DECwriter 110i, Olivetti JP360 for HP DeskJet 500 and 120i Microsoft Windows 95 only DECwriter 500i, Olivetti JP450 for HP DeskJet 500 520ic and 550ic Microsoft Windows 95 only
* When you print bitmap graphics by using the Apple LaserWriter driver, the graphic is printed in grayscale. NOTE
: You probably will not receive the best results (resolution or features) when you use a compatible driver, instead of the original driver.
Almost all dot-matrix printers emulate an Epson or an International Business Machines (IBM) printer. Exceptions to this rule include Toshiba, Texas Instruments, some Okidata and C.Itoh printers. All Panasonic, Star Micronics, and Citizen dot-matrix printers default to an Epson emulation mode but can also emulate an IBM printer if you change the printer settings. In general, try an Epson printer driver first, and then try an IBM driver if necessary.
Determine if the printer is a 9-pin or a 24-pin printer. If a driver is installed, you can determine this by viewing the available graphics resolutions. A 9-pin printer uses resolution settings that are increments of 120 x 72. A 24-pin printer uses resolution settings that are increments of 120 x 180 or 180 x 180. Then, determine if the printer is capable of printing in color and if the printer uses a wide carriage (can take paper that is up to 14 7/8 inches wide). Use the following table to determine which driver to use.
#Pins Carriage Color Suggested Epson Suggested IBM ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 9 Narrow No FX-80, FX-850, Generic IBM Graphics, Epson-compatible IBM Proprinter 9-pin 9 Wide No FX-100, FX-1050 Generic IBM Graphics Wide, IBM Proprinter XL 9 Narrow Yes JX-80 N/A 9 Wide Yes N/A use JX-80 N/A 24 Narrow No LQ-800, LQ-850, IBM Proprinter 24, Epson-compatible IBM Proprinter 24E 24-pin 24 Wide No LQ-2500, LQ-1050, IBM Proprinter 24 XL Epson Compatible 24-pin 24 Narrow Yes LQ-860 N/A 24 Wide Yes LQ-2550, LQ-1060 N/A
Laser Printers Guidelines
Most laser printers that are available are PCL or PostScript-based printers, and many are both. Some are Windows Printing System printers. If a driver for the printer is installed, view the About box to determine whether it is a PostScript printer or a Windows Printing System printer. If the printer is a PostScript printer, try using the Apple LaserWriter driver. If the printer is a Windows Printing System printer, you may not be able to use another driver. If the printer is neither type, the most compatible driver to use is the LaserJet II (or LaserJet III if you are certain that the printer was recently manufactured.) The following printers are not PCL compatible. You cannot use these printers with another driver if no PostScript option is available:
- Canon LBP-8 (all models except those with an "x" at the end of the name)
- Canon LBP-4 (all models except those with an "x" at the end of the name)
- IBM 4019/4029 (not PCL by default but you may be able to change the settings on the front panel)
For color PostScript printers, try the QMS Colorscript driver as a test. Make sure that Postscrp.drv is the Microsoft version by checking the About information for the file. Windows Printing System printers typically use only the driver that is created specifically for them.
Other printers, especially high-end color printers, are usually PostScript-compatible or Windows Printing System-compatible printers. Again, check the About box of an installed driver to determine if it is a PostScript or Windows Printing System printer.
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