Technologists got pretty excited about “the paperless office” in the 1980s, but the PC explosion had exactly the opposite effect. Thanks to the proliferation of inexpensive, high-quality PC printers, the world generates far more printouts than ever. Fortunately, there’s not much to printing from Windows 7.
A printer is a peripheral device—something outside of the PC—and as such, it won’t work without a piece of driver software explaining the new hardware to Windows. In general, getting this driver installed is a simple process. It’s described in more detail in Chapter 18; here are a few notes on the process to get you started.
If the technology gods are smiling, then installing the driver for a typical inkjet USB printer works just as described in Chapter 18: You connect the printer, turn it on, and marvel as Windows autodetects it and autoinstalls the driver, thanks to its secret cache of hundreds of printer drivers (Figure 17-1).
If you have a really old printer, its drivers might not be compatible with Windows 7. Check the manufacturer’s Web site, such as www.epson.com or www.lexmark.com, or a central driver repository like www.windrivers.com, to see if there’s anything newer.
If you work in an office where people on the network share a single printer (usually a laser printer), the printer usually isn’t connected directly to your computer. Instead, it’s elsewhere on the network; your PC’s Ethernet ...