Top Tips




If you’ve got a scanner I'm willing to bet that you have had trouble keeping curly photos and documents with a fold or crease flat on the glass and aligned with the edges. When you make the scan the image is usually off-bonk so you have to waste time smoothing it out and lining it up again. Here’s a quick and simple tip to keep your material flat and square and that’s to keep it in place with a thin sheet of glass from a photo frame. Keep it by your scanner; you’ll wonder how you ever got on without it.



If your inkjet printer sits idle for more than a week or two at a time then you run a very real risk of the cartridge or print head drying out or clogging, particularly in warm weather or if it’s used in an office with a dry atmosphere. When that happens the cartridge could become unusable, even after cleaning and on some models, with a separate print head, the printer could be permanently ruined. This is easily avoided, just remember to print at least one document every couple of weeks, a web page or the Test Document in your printer’s Properties box (right click the printer icon) are as good as anything but make sure there’s some colour content to keep the colour inks flowing freely.



Having problems with your printer?  You may be surprised to know Windows 95 comes with a sophisticated printer troubleshooting program. It's on the CD-ROM, you can find it with Windows Explorer, click on the D: drive icon, then open the Other folder and inside you'll find a folder called Misc, open that and then the Epts (enhanced printer troubleshooter). Click on epts.exe and the program starts, first analysing your printer set-up, it then asks a series of questions and suggests remedies to help you solve the problem. The troubleshooter is built into Windows 98, just open Windows Help and type Troubleshooting into the Index Windows and select Printers from the list.



If you have a paper jam do not force it. Always try to remove the blockage in the normal direction of travel, if it tears make sure all of the fragments are removed. If you can't clear the paper path refer to the manual. Store paper flat in the original packaging, always fan it before loading to free up the sheets and stop them sticking together. If the paper hopper is partially full always load it so the old paper is used first. Always check to make sure the paper you are using is within the printer's handling limits. Keep printers well away from radiators and out of strong sunlight -- especially laser printers -- as this can affect print quality.



The settings on your printer can have a big effect on the quality of prints. Most printers have a paper selection option, for different finishes (gloss, matt, silk etc.) and ‘weights’ (the thickness of the paper), try them all on series of test prints and compare the results. Clean your printer regularly, a build up of gunge and dried ink on the rollers can leave streaks, lines or scratches on the surface of the print, refer to your printer manual for guidance.



If you regularly need to switch between two settings on your printer (i.e. portrait and landscape mode, etc.) when printing from different applications, you can avoid a lot of messing around by making Windows believe you have two or more printers. Open the Printers folder in My Computer and click on Add New Printer and follow through the installation procedure for your existing printer. At the point when Windows asks the printer’s name, change to default, Printer 2 for example. When the setup is complete right-click on the new printer icon, select Properties and change the settings as required. Now all you have to do is select the new printer in your application's Printer Setup dialogue box, or simply drag and drop the file onto the Printer 2 icon.



Here's a way to squeeze a little extra speed out of most printers. By default Windows is set to spool print jobs. That basically means the data to be printed is first written to a temporary file, which allows you and the PC to get on with other jobs, whilst the printer is working. If you turn off the Print Spooler you should find print jobs take less time to complete. The option can be found by right-clicking your printer icon from the Printers Folder in My Computer or Start > Settings. Select Properties, then the Details tab and click on the Spool Settings button. Click 'Print Directly To Printer' then OK. The only disadvantage is that on long print jobs you may see the busy icon in your application more often than usual. Be warned that it doesn't work on all systems and all printers so try it on a test document first – time a print job before and after switching off the spooler – if you encounter problems click the Restore Defaults button in the print spooler dialogue window.



If you have a partially filled cartridge that won't print, or the text/image is streaked or fading from top to bottom there's a good chance that the print head is partially or fully blocked by dried ink. If it won't respond to your printers cleaning routine here's something to try, you've got nothing to lose! Find a bowl or shallow container and fill it to a depth of a few centimetres with a 50/50 mixture of very hot water and bleach or ammonia. Immerse the print head – the part where ink comes out -- into the solution and leave it for a couple of minutes. If the dried ink dissolves you'll see it start to flow in the water. Dry it off carefully with a soft, lint-free cloth and try it out. 



Copyright (c) 2006 Rick Maybury Ltd.