The printer primer

Adding a printer

In such cases, you should add the printer. And you start by clicking the Plus (+) button that appears below the Printers list. Do this and an Add window will appear containing a few options. Let’s run through them.

Default: When you click Default, you’ll see a list of some of the printers available on your local network. (I say some because these are printers that have been configured to make themselves known to your Mac using a scheme called Bonjour. This requires no more work from you than to choose to share your printer over the network using printer sharing as I’ve described.)

To add one of these printers, just select it and then click the Add button. Its name, location, and driver should appear below. You’ll then be prompted to add it. Go right ahead.

Fax: Ha ha ha ha ha, who uses a fax these days…. Oh, you do? Sorry. If you have a multifunction printer that includes a fax feature, it will appear here if you’ve installed the software that accompanies that printer. Select it and click Add if the printer’s fax feature doesn’t appear in the Print & Scan window.

IP: Devices on your local network are assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) address. For example, if your devices are connected to an AirPort base station of some kind, your Mac might have an IP address of 10.0.1.2 and your iPad a 10.0.1.3 address. Network printers are assigned addresses of their own. You can learn what that address is by printing a configuration page. (See your printer’s documentation to learn how to do this.)

Once you have that address, click the IP tab and enter the printer’s IP address in the Address field. If the address is good and your Mac “sees” the printer on the network, you’ll see ‘Valid and Complete Address’ below the Address field. The Name field will hold the IP address. You’ll want to change that to something more recognizable—Bobo’s Printer, for example. Then click Add and the printer will be available to you.

Configuring a network printer via IP

Windows: We try to not have an attitude about Windows in Mac 101. If Windows computers, and printers attached to them makes sense for your work and play, good on ya. This is particularly important because many new Mac users come from the Windows world and would like to continue using as much of their old or existing gear as possible. Fortunately, Mountain Lion is quite understanding of Windows when it comes to printing.

If you’ve shared a printer via Windows (using something called the SMB—or Server Message Block—protocol) your Mac can be made aware of that printer and use it. Just click the Windows tab, select Workgroup, and locate the printer attached to that workgroup. Then select it, and click Add.

You can also add a scanner to the Print & Scan window (thus the word scan in its name). But as scanning is a horse of another color, I’m going to address it specifically in an upcoming column.

Regarding desktop printers

You can create something called a desktop printer. This is an icon that represents your printer that you place on your Mac’s desktop. When you want to print a file from the Finder, simply drag it on top of this icon. The document’s host application will open, and the file will print without you having to jump through any dialog boxes.

Creating a desktop printer is a cinch. From within the Print & Scan window, just drag your printer to the desktop. Its icon will appear with a small arrow pointing to it, indicating that it’s an alias to your “real” printer.

About the print queue

As promised, let’s turn to the print queue. When you send a file to be printed, a new icon that looks very much like your printer will appear in the Dock. This is the PrinterProxy application. The number of documents its queue holds will be reflected in a red badge icon that appears at the top right of the icon.

Click this icon and you’ll see the queue. There are a couple of things that you can do within it. First, you can pause all printing by clicking the green Pause button in the toolbar. Until you click Resume, all printing stops.

Viewing the printer queue

You can also pause the printing of individual documents. You do that by clicking the Pause icon that appears to the right of the document you wish to pause. Other documents that aren’t paused will continue to print. To resume printing of a paused document, click the Resume icon (which looks like a half-circle with an arrow at the end). You can remove documents from the print queue by clicking the X next to them.

And there you have the basics of configuring a printer to work with your Mac. Next week we’ll focus on the actual job of printing documents from within applications.

Next week: The printing primer

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