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Windows XP Home Edition: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Fancy Printer Tricks

The masses of Windows users generally slog through life, choosing FilePrint, clicking OK, and then drumming their fingers as they wait for the paper to slide out of the printer. But your printer can do more than that—much more. Here are just a few of the stunts that await the savvy PC fan.

Printing at 39,000 Feet

Printing any document is really a two-step procedure. First, Windows converts the document into a seething mass of printer codes in the form of a spool file on your hard drive. Second, it feeds that mass of code to the printer.

When you’re not connected to your printer—for example, when you’re sitting in seat 23B several miles over Detroit—you can separate these two tasks. You can do the time-consuming part of the printing operation (creating the spool files) right there on the plane. Then, later, upon your happy reunion with the printer, you can simply unleash the flood of stored spool files, which will print very quickly.

To set this up, right-click the icon for your printer in the Printers and Faxes window (Figure 13-4). From the shortcut menu, choose Pause Printing. That’s all there is to it; now you can merrily “print” your documents, 100 percent free of error messages. Windows quietly stores all the half-finished printouts as files on your hard drive.

When the printer is reconnected to your machine, right-click its icon once again—but this time, choose Resume Printing from its shortcut menu. You’ll find that the printer springs to life almost immediately, ...

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