Everything You Need to Know About Print Drivers

Submitted by Joel Metzler on Wed, 02/10/2021 - 09:00
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If you've ever wondered how computers and printers interact, it's likely that you've heard of a print driver. As the unsung heroes behind the scenes, print drivers are responsible for the way that our computers and printers communicate, and without them, printing wouldn't be nearly as simple as it is now. 

What is a Print Driver? 

A Print Driver is a piece of software on a computer that converts data to be printed in a format that a printer can understand. Its main purpose is to allow applications to print without being aware of the technical details of each printer model. While printers can technically function without them, it is a difficult and complicated process that involves a USB connection and an in-depth understanding of computer logistics.  

While print drivers come automatically installed on the machine themselves, sometimes an additional installation is required for the computer to obtain permission to print through it. Smaller desktop printers often require the installation of a print driver onto a computer before it can begin printing, but larger multifunction printers typically don’t require this.  

Related Reading: 3 Training Resources for Your Xerox Copier/Printer 

 

What are the Different Types of Print Drivers? 

There are three main types of drivers: Printer Command Language (PCL), PostScript (PS), and XML Paper Specification (XPS).  

Printer Command Language (PCL) 

This print driver is most often used for everyday text printing, including legacy applications, mainframe printing, and some vector graphics.  

 

Postscript (PS) 

This print driver is used more for publishing applications, color graphs, complex graphics, clipart, and PostScript file types.  

 

XML Paper Specification (XPS) 

This type of print driver isn’t widely used but can be utilized with Windows 8 and Windows Runtime (RT) operating systems.  

 

Which One is Right for Me? 

Print drivers are traditionally designed and developed for use by specific brands, meaning that they might not be interchangeable. For example, if you have an HP print driver installed on your computer, and you try to print on a Xerox machine, they might not be compatible, and chances are they won’t be able to communicate with one another. This means that things such as DPI, clarity, and contrasts can’t be adjusted or changed.  

However, there are some “universal” print drivers, such as Xerox Global Print Driver which supports not only Xerox machines, but non-Xerox machines, PCL, and PostScript. This saves end-users the hassle of downloading individual print drivers for each machine in their office. HP offers a similar driver, the HP Universal Print Driver, and PaperCut has its own version as well.  

Because of this, it’s often best to use the print driver that comes with your machine or product line that you’re utilizing. This becomes significantly more convenient when all your copier/printer technology belongs to the same brand.  

 

Keep Things Simple.

While it's likely that once your print driver is installed, you won't have to directly interact with it again, it's important to understand the software behind your machine. If you ever find yourself struggling with certain functions, or your printer seems to be malfunctioning, the print drive can also be a root of some of these problems. As always, our service team is available to assist you in any way possible, and our Learning Center is full of additional resources. 

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