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How to select a compatible printer driver for your printer How to select a compatible printer driver for your printer when you use Office 97, Office 2000, or Office XP

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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.

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More information

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.

Ink-Jet Guidelines

There are four types of ink-jet printers. These are listed as follows:
  • Epson-compatible

  • Hewlett-Packard (HP) DeskJet-compatible

  • PostScript

  • 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

   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

   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

   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

   DECwriter 110i,       Olivetti JP360 for            HP DeskJet 500
   and 120i              Microsoft Windows 95

   DECwriter 500i,       Olivetti JP450 for            HP DeskJet 500
   520ic and 550ic       Microsoft Windows 95

* 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.

Dot-Matrix Guidelines

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       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      Wide       No      LQ-2500, LQ-1050,    IBM Proprinter 24 XL
                              Epson Compatible

   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 Guidelines

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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For more information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
128345 How to troubleshoot printing problems in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows Millennium Edition
137863 Troubleshooting plotter problems in Windows
138714 Using the Windows Printing System with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, and Windows Millennium Edition
123485 Troubleshooting print overflow/overrun errors with LaserJet 4
163551 Troubleshooting printing problems in Windows
260142 How to troubleshoot Windows 2000 printing problems

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Keywords: kbinfo, kbprinters, kbhowto, KB177512

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Article Info
Article ID : 177512
Revision : 5
Created on : 4/29/2008
Published on : 4/29/2008
Exists online : False
Views : 1687