Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Windows 8 (mis)adventures: Some Unprintable Words About Printers

If I were starting out today, I'd have no problems with printers. I'd get a printer that could be networked, network it, and that would be that. I suppose I could disconnect everything, network the pieces as though I were starting fresh, and have no problem, but it's sooooooo easy to stick with what one has! (As I type this, I'm getting tempted to do it even though I resolved my latest issue!)

I got my first printer before there were were networks to network it into. It is connected directly to my desktop PC. All of the laptops in the house access the printer wirelessly through the desktop. This was easy to do when all of the computers used the same version of Windows. Today, the desktop uses XP. (It's old, but it's rock-solid with a quad-core processor, works just fine, and meets my needs.) Each new laptop brought a new iteration of Windows--there was 32 bit Win 7, 64 bit Win 7, and now 64 bit Win 8--bringing its own set of issues. In each case, it was a painful experience that took hours and, when I was done, I was never sure what it was that I did that eventually got things working.

Once again (with Win 8) I went through the exercise, but I may finally have a sense of what's going on. I can't provide a detailed flow chart that guarantees results, but I can describe some things that cost me a few hours each trying to resolve. (At least, they felt like a few hours each. The grief certainly took a few years off of my life...each!}

  • Be sure the printer is set up to be shared! Go to Printers & Faxes in the Control Panel of the computer to which the printer is physically connected (the host computer). Right click on the appropriate printer. Go to Printer Properties. Click on the Share Tab, and put a check mark in the appropriate box.
    • Be sure the the latest printer drivers are installed on the host computer. This may have been what was causing the problem with Windows 8. When a new computer seeks to use the printer wirelessly, it downloads the drivers from the host computer.
    • Recheck the share status of the printer. Permission to share the printer may be rescinded at part of the installation process when drivers are updated.
  • OTOH, the Windows 8 issue might have been this. (I say "might" because I did this before the previous step. In the end, I ended up doing them both, so I'm not completely sure what got everything to work, especially in light of the next step! Were I to start all over again, I would leave this step last.)

    I tried getting the latest driver onto my Win 8 laptop by downloading it from the manufacturer's site. However, the only way the installation program would run is if the printer was physically connected to the laptop. So, I connected the printer to the laptop, installed the drivers, and then uninstalled the printer (through Devices & Printers) without uninstalling the driver.

    This step may have been unnecessary had I performed the previous step first, but I don't know for sure so I list it "just in case".

  • When all the steps have been accomplished and the printer still doesn't work, Restart the computer(s)! I'm so accustomed to having software tell me when it's necessary to Restart, that I don't restart unless I'm told to. However, the only thing I did between the last failed attempt to print a test page and the first successful attempt was to restart the computers.

I don't know if this will solve all issues, but I'm not dreading the next time nearly so much as I have in the past.

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