The Print Shop: Guide to PC World's Top Printer Tips And Tricks

Although our Printer Info Center and indeed this very column serve as your springboard to the best information PC World has for you that's printer related, you can also find some useful printing tips and tricks in the monthly columns from our other specialists. Accordingly (and to make sure you don't miss out on some great advice), I've put together a list of the best printing information on PCWorld.com.

How to Find Our Printing Info

  1. General Printer Guides
  2. Troubleshooting and Maintenance
  3. Strategies to Save on Printing Costs
  4. Photo Printing Tips
  5. Portable Printing
  6. The Lowdown on Printing CD/DVD Labels

Tip of the month: Ever received or given a gift only to have the initial excitement squashed by reading the fateful words, "Batteries not included"? It's not a good feeling. To avoid a similar disappointment (and potential return visits to Best Buy or CompUSA), check that a USB cable is included with your shiny new printer--such cables usually aren't. So, unless you have a spare at home, pick one up while at the store or when ordering the printer online.

1. General Printer Guides

The question that I'm most often asked by readers is what to keep in mind when buying a printer. Though I try to provide tailored advice, I always point to our
Printer Buying Guide, which includes shopping tips and solid background information to help you understand the various types of inkjet printers plus monochrome and color lasers. The second most common question: Which is the best inkjet, laser, or multifunction printer? Your best bet: Browse our complete list of reviewed models, using the tools on the left to sort and filter the listings according to your needs.

We also have a detailed guide to help you print faster and smarter by tweaking your Windows printer settings (for Windows XP, 2000, and 95/98), plus introductions to wireless printing and Linux printer drivers.

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2. Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Artwork: Pierre Granier, Chip Taylor
Printer problems are not uncommon, of course, and if you have one, one of our previous stories might have just the answer to help you fix it yourself. From
troubleshooting typical laser printer headaches to cleaning inkjet nozzles or improving your printer's output, the solution could turn out to be easier than you think.

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3. Strategies to Save on Printing Costs

For the ultimate in tips and tricks to get great-looking output without spending a fortune on ink and paper, it's hard to top our
Cheapskate's Guide to Printing. Other money-saving reads include our look at simple ways to get more out of your inkjet printer for less, and other printer tricks that save bucks. For photo enthusiasts, we also have six cost-saving tips for your photo printer.

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4. Photo Printing Tips

Photograph: Marc Simon
The increasing quality of the glossy photos that today's printers can output has contributed greatly to their rise in popularity, so it's no surprise that we've covered this topic in quite some depth. We've previously run articles on
foolproof photo printing and demystifying photo resolution, sharpness, and print quality in addition to an overview on getting the best results from an inkjet printer.

You'll also need to ensure that you pick the perfect photo paper and that you know how to how to preserve your prints. Then there are the many home-craft jobs you can choose to explore, such as printing your own photo album, creating a photo collage for printing up or e-mailing, making a four-in-one photo poster or scaling and printing pictures for framing.

You can also let someone else do the work for you by using a Web-based service such as those from Kodak, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Yahoo, or Wal-Mart. In March this year, we reviewed online photo services, comparing the results with those from our top-ranked inkjet photo printer (the Canon Pixma iP6600D), in terms of both quality and price.

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5. Portable Printing

Photograph: Rick Rizner
Lightweight and portable printers can be a boon for working on the road, so we've looked at some of the best
portable printing products for you and produced a guide to buying a portable printer. Another alternative is to use online services to print your documents when you're away from your PC--and, you guessed it, we've reviewed some of those, too.

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6. The Lowdown on Printing CD/DVD Labels

After consulting with a variety of printer manufacturers, I wrote a column in April, partly replying to a reader's question about which vendors offer
models capable of direct CD/DVD label printing.

Though Epson is still the only company offering such printers in North America, there are indeed alternatives if you own another brand of printer, many of which were also discussed in that column. However, I neglected to point out that we've previously reviewed CD/DVD labeling kits and explored other ways of labeling CDs and DVDs. These products and techniques are certainly worth a look.

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I find it convenient to have everything bookmarked in one place for reference, so I hope you find this "best of" collection as useful as I have. Until next month...

Have a printer question or a comment? E-mail Danny Allen.

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