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Printing with Windows XP

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Learn how to print a document from within the program that created it and also from the Windows XP desktop, how to manage various printer settings, how to install a printer attached to your own computer and how to set up your computer to use a shared printer, and how to share your own printer with others on the network.

Printing is one the basic functions you will perform with your computer. Windows XP makes printing as easy as it has ever been, coordinating all the mechanics in the background so that you can focus on your work.

In the tasks in this part, you learn how to print a document from within the program that created it and also from the Windows XP desktop. You also learn how to manage various printer settings, such as how to set your default printer, paper source, and paper size. You learn how to install a printer attached to your own computer and how to set up your computer to use a shared printer—one that's available on the network. Finally, you learn how to share your own printer with others on the network.

How to Print a Document from a Program

Most of the time, you print documents directly from the program you used to create them, whether that program is a word processor such as Microsoft Word, or a drawing program such as Paint. Because most programs designed for Windows follow similar guidelines, you will find that the process of printing from any Windows program is very similar to the following steps. Many Windows programs also offer a Print button on the main toolbar. This button usually prints one copy of the document using all the default printer settings. If you print this way, you bypass the Print dialog box described in this task altogether.

Open the File

Open the file you want to print using the File, Open command of the program used to create the file. In the program's Open dialog box, navigate to the folder where the file is stored, select the file, and click Open. Here I am opening a document in Microsoft Word.

Figure 3.1

Choose the Print Command

When you are ready to print the open document, choose File, Print from the program's menu bar. The Print dialog box opens, which allows you to specify which pages of the document as well as how many copies you want to print.

Figure 3.2

Choose the Printer to Use

If you have access to more than one printer, use the Printer drop-down menu to select the printer you want to use.

Figure 3.3

Choose Printing Options

Some programs let you set special printing options that are specific to the program you are using. This is usually done by clicking an Options button in the Print dialog box. For example, some programs allow you to print a document in draft mode, which can save a lot of time and printer ink because it prints characters in a lighter text.

Figure 3.4

Choose Pages and Number of Copies

Almost every Windows program lets you specify the range of pages you want to print. You can use the program's File, Print Preview command to see a preview of what the document will look like when printed so that you can determine which pages of a lengthy document you want to print. In the Number of copies box, type the number of copies of the document you want to print.

Figure 3.5

Print the Document

After you have selected your printer, specified the pages and number of copies you want to print, set any extra options, and click OK to print. Most programs allow you to continue working while your document is being printed.

Figure 3.6

Setting Printer Properties

The Print dialog boxes for most programs include a Properties button. This button gives you quick access to system-wide properties for your printer—the same properties you can set from within Windows, as described in Task 4, "How to Change Printer Settings."

Previewing Before You Print

Some programs offer a feature named Print Preview, usually available from the File menu, that lets you see your document onscreen as it will look when it is printed. This can be a handy way of making sure that your document looks the way you think it should before using up paper and ink to print it.

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