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Be the Master of Your Printer

Sometimes you need a print immediately, other times you need to continue working with your application while printing. You can make your printer accommodate your needs by configuring your printers "Spool Settings" and "Print Queue".

An application can transfer its data much faster than any mechanical printer can create the document on paper. For this reason, when you print, the data goes to a "spool" which acts as a buffer between your application and the printer.

If you need a print immediately, you can set the spool to start printing as soon as it gets enough data to create the first page of the document. But this forces your application to wait until that first page is transferred to the spool.

If you prefer to continue working with your application, you can set the spool to start printing after it has received the entire document. This moves the printing operation to the background.

To configure the printers Spool Setting, select Start | Settings | Printers. In the Printers window, right-click on the icon for the printer you want, and in the popup window select "Properties". In the printers Properties dialog box, on the "Details" tab, click on the [Spool Settings...] button.

In the Spool Settings dialog box, set the radio button for "Spool print jobs so program finishes printing faster". Then set the radio button for either "Start printing after last page is spooled", or "Start printing after first page is spooled".

If need a print super fast, you can set the radio button for "Print directly to the printer". This bypasses the spool entirely. Note: If the printer is shared, you may not have the option to print directly to the printer. If you have the required rights, you can temporarily disable sharing.

If the printer is near your computer and you don't want to be disturbed by printer noise, you can pause the printer. Right-click on the printer's icon and in the popup menu click on "Pause Printing". Then when you are ready to go to break or lunch, click on "Pause Printing" again to let the printer work while you are away.

If your operating system is Windows 2000 or XP, you can schedule exactly when the document will print. Pause the printer before you print the document. Then double-click on the printer's icon to open the printer's queue window. Right-click on the name of the document in the queue and select "Properties" in the popup window. On the "General" tab, in the "Schedule" section, set the radio button for "Only from" and set a time interval during which you want the document to print.

If you have the required rights, rather than schedule when the document will print, you can set a time interval during which the printer is available. In the print queue windows "Printer" menu, select "Properties". In the printers Properties dialog box, on the "Advanced" tab, set the "Available" time interval for the printer.

If you want quick access to these various printer configurations, click on the "Add Printer" icon and use the "Add Printer Wizard" to install another copy of your printer. On the "Add Printer Wizard" where you select "Keep existing driver" or "Replace existing driver", set the radio button to "Keep existing driver". Then on the "Printer name:" page, give the printer a descriptive name, for example "Lunchtime LaserJet".

Then when you print, you can select the desired configuration from the "Print" dialog box. You can also create desktop shortcuts to the various configurations. For example, if you want to print a document while you are at lunch, you can drag the document to the "Lunchtime LaserJet" shortcut at any time and the print will be ready when you return from lunch.

You don't have to accept Windows default configurations for printing. You can have your documents printed immediately or at a time of your choice. Use the methods described in this article to be the master of your printer.

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