Windows NT Printing


When Microsoft uses the noun Printer they are generally refering to the software component that manages the printing process. The rest of the industry refers to this software component a the printing queue.

The actually hardware, normally refered to as a printer, is a printing device according to the standard Microsoft terminology.

Windows NT Printer Configuration Utilities

The Printer Configuration utilities is located under Settings-Control Panel on your startup menu. You will also notice a direct shortcut to printers on the Settings menu. Either way, you get to the same location which is the printers control utility.

You will also see icons for any of the printers that you have already configured. The trick to the Windows 95/Windows NT 4.0 interface is that to change the configuration of a given printer, you right click on the icon for that printers and select properties from the menu that appears. This will bring up a tabbed dialog (yes, you see a lot of this type of interface for properties settings under 95 and NT) which let you set all of the properties for this printer.

Finally, if you double click on a printer icon on the Printers control utility, you will be given a window that allows you to control jobs and the print queue itself for that printer. This panel allows you to stop the printer queue, delete jobs or set up which printer is the default on your system. Therefore, while the properties page lets you tell the system about the type of printer that you have and what you want your print jobs to look like, this utility lets you control the print jobs that are actually being processed by the system.

Configuring a Network Printer

You can use the TCP/IP Printing service to connect and use most printers connected to a TCP/IP network can use the LPR/LPD (line printer requester/line printer daemon) protocol over TCP/IP networks.

Print Queue Management

Automatically Download Print Drivers

Windows NT's ability to automatically download print dirvers to client computers that need them vastly simplifies suppporting printing on a large network. The feature currently works with Windows NT and Windows 95 clients.

To see the list of drivers currently supported or add new drivers go to the Printer properties and look under the Sharing tab.

Dealing with Printing Problems

The first thing to check is the printer queue on the workstation creating the print . If the job is not leaving the print queue on the workstation that is generating the print job, check network connectivity to the print server using Network Neighborhood, Explorer or File Manager. See if you can connect to disk drives on the remote computer to prove that the network is correctly transmitting signals between the two computers.

If you cannot see the print server from the file connection utilities, go to other workstations that are on the same part of the network as the workstation having the problems and see if they can see the print server.

Check to see that the print server can see other resources on your network. Are there any segments of the network that you cannot see (such as all the workstations on that segment are missing). Based on these checks, you can determine if network connectivity is your problem. If you cannot see anything, you may have to check your network setup and possible reboot the print server.

Check the print queue on the print server to see if jobs are getting stuck in its queue. If so, check lights and indicators on your printer to see if any information is getting to the printer. This isolates the problem between the printer and the print server.

After you have run these basic checks, you now get into the printer specific, network specific and operating specific problems. There are any number of them, but it helps to narrow your focus. I have found the print queues to function quite reliably once they are set up correctly. Occasionally you will have to reboot machines or servers that have become confused, but this is relatively infrequent. Most of the problems that I have run across deal with the printers themselves jamming, running out of paper or just plain getting dirty.