Printer Drivers 101 | An Introduction

By: Marco
October 5, 2022

Riddle me this: what software is free, but highly valuable, gets no attention, but is impossible to print without?  The answer is print drivers, and this blog will tell you everything you need to know about these underappreciated programs.

What Is a Print Driver?

A printer driver is the software that helps your computer communicate with your printer and tell it what to do.

Understanding Printer Drivers

Every printer communicates with your computer differently, so each printer needs a unique driver. If your office has multiple printers, you will need printer drivers for each printer installed on your computer, if you want to be able to print to several printers.

Typically, your computer will have one printer set as your default or primary printer, so you won’t have to choose a printer each time you print, but you will have the ability to change the printer.

Printer Drivers & Your Operating System

Printer drivers vary by printer but also by operating system. Essentially, a printer driver is a translator, interpreting your computer’s language so your printer can understand.

There are a lot of operating system “languages” that exist in the computer world – here are the top operating systems in use today:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux

To complicate issues even further, each operating system also has different versions.  With each operating system update, you will need to update your printer driver(s).

Signs You May Need To Update or Install a Print Driver

If you’re experiencing printing issues, your printer itself may not be to blame. Updating your printer drivers can resolve many common printing issues:

  • Poor print quality
  • Print jobs getting lost in the queue
  • Your printer’s connection to other devices is inconsistent
  • Your printer becomes unresponsive

Especially if your computer recently got its operating system updated, you may want to check your print driver before you try other troubleshooting techniques. Your driver also might be to blame for any printer issues if you’ve recently experienced a computer virus, a power outage, or other systemic problems.

How To Check if Your Driver Is Up to Date

If your computer sends you update notifications, it will let you know when your driver isn’t up to date. However, depending on your system, you should be able to check that you’re using the most recent driver by going to Printer Properties, clicking on Setup, then About.

These steps may vary slightly, but you should be able to find information about your current driver here.

How To Install or Update Your Printer Driver

Most modern computers have an update center that will notify you when you need to update your printer driver and will allow you to do so in a few quick clicks.

However, you should also be able to find updated printer drivers on the manufacturer’s websites. And if you’re using a Managed Print Services provider, their website should also provide the newest driver updates.

If you’re updating new drivers from a manufacturer’s or print provider’s website, it’s a good idea to uninstall your current driver before downloading the new one. Then, determine the make and model of your printer so you can download the correct driver. The make and model can be found on the printer or in the documentation you received with your printer.

Next, go to your print provider or manufacturer’s driver download section of their website. Select your operating system, and then download and install the correct driver.

Why Should You Keep Your Drivers Updated?

In addition to troubleshooting printer problems, keeping your drivers updated can also provide you with new features and capabilities.

Updated drivers make it easier for your printer to do its job, but it also could help your computer run reliably. For example, using obsolete software can cause computers to crash, so always using the latest driver can save you from all sorts of unpleasant disruptions.

How Businesses Can Manage Driver Updates Easily

Connecting one computer to one printer is usually fairly straightforward. But managing multiple connections to multiple different devices can become a challenge. Marco’s recommends PrinterLogic for clients that need help managing more complex print environments.

However, depending on the organization, printer drivers are often the least of their worries. The average IT department spends 15% of its time on printing issues. Their time is probably better spent on cybersecurity and helping your organization avoid disruptions instead of constantly responding to them. An excellent Managed Print Services provider can help businesses in a number of other ways in addition to saving them precious time and money.

If you’re interested in exactly how the top managed print provider in the country can make your workplace a less frustrating, more productive place to be, you can download our free eBook. Our experts are also on hand to answer any questions you might have about our services.

What are Managed Print Services? Download Our eBook

Topics: Copiers & Printers